FP fans, meet Mary McLaughlin, a therapist in Vienna, VA!
1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
I would describe this space as having a zen inspired design, with natural, earthy colors, soft lighting, and comfortable furniture that’s not too ornate.
2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
The waiting room was designed to inspire more of a coffee shop feel, not a medical office. There are a variety of seating options, including a desk nook, comfortable couch, and a high-top table and stools.
The waiting room is shared by three therapists, so it’s not unusual to have 3-4 clients in the room at once. Occasionally clients talk to each other and build connections in the waiting room. I really love it when that happens!
This type of environment helps remove the shame and stigma that sometimes comes with seeing a therapist.
My personal office space is intended to help clients feel nurtured and inspired. Every object in the office serves a purpose and its placement is intentional.
For example, clients have a view of the window and there are lots of visually interesting decorations in the room of various shapes and colors. This is useful when clients need a mental break or if a client dissociates and we need to do some grounding work.
I have an aromatherapy dispenser (but only use a tiny drop of lavender, as I don’t like heavy scents!)
3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
Drinks for clients are kept in the fridge. The large bookshelf in the waiting room serves as a lending library for clients.
There’s a convenient check-in system where clients can flip a light switch in the waiting room to let us know they’re here.
Clients have commented that the quotes on the walls feel comforting to them.
4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
Carlie Ross, a friend and colleague, was the original creator of the space and I’m eternally thankful for her vision and creativity!
I’m lucky to share this therapy suite with two awesome colleagues – Megan MacCutcheon, LPC and Amy Weidinger, LPC.
We each have our own offices that reflect our personal styles and we each contribute to the decor of the common areas. We are a close knit group and I couldn’t ask for a better work environment!
5) ANY ADVICE FOR THERAPISTS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT AND DESIGNING THEIR OFFICE FOR THE FIRST TIME, OR SEASONED THERAPISTS LOOKING TO REDESIGN THEIR OFFICES?
My advice is to consider the importance of the physical environment when doing this type of work.
I believe if we are inviting clients to share their stories, we are obligated to create a space that feels nurturing and safe.
In addition, having a well thought out and attractive office gives clients the message that they are working with a professional and they are in good hands.
It’s fun to showcase your personal style but make sure that you’re always designing with your client’s needs in mind. The clocks in my office don’t tick, because that sound can be triggering for some people.
I find it helpful, every once in a while, to sit where my clients sit so I can get a feel for what they’re seeing during sessions. A window view is probably more desirable than a messy desk view.
Mary McLaughlin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with a private practice in Vienna, VA…
You can learn more about her practice at:
She and her suite-mates created this website together. Check it out to learn more about her colleagues, Megan and Amy!