FP fans, meet Julia Caruana, a therapist in Bethesda, MD!
(1) How would you describe the style of your therapy office?
Simple but eclectic, mixing and matching old and new. I have combined contemporary furniture with antique pieces I picked up over the years.
Predominant colors are white and green which along with the wood-look porcelain tile floor give off a warm rustic feel. Light colors were chosen to enhance the limited natural light and maximize the sense of space.
I want the atmosphere to feel neutral, not aggressive not dull, just comfortable so that the attention is on the conversation.
(2) What vibe do you hope your office gives your therapy clients?
My goal has always been to make my clients feel at home, a place where they can take their shoes off, or lay on the couch if they want to. I want stress to stay at the door. I want to transmit peace, safety and a sense of well-being which I find is effective in helping my clients to feel relaxed and open up.
When you enter into my office you learn that I am from Spain, that I have a cat, a one year old boy and that I love hats! I have had many clients tell me the reason they reached out to me is because I had a home office and that in itself made them feel more comfortable; less like going to a doctor’s appointment and more like going to a friend’s house.
Since I also work with children, I had to have a play area. I was surprised to find that people automatically feel more at ease when they see toys and other reminders of childhood.
(3) Do you have any creature comforts in your office for your clients?
I have coffee, tea, and water in the waiting area. I recently added hot chocolate, which children love.
I work a lot with pregnant women so I always like having some kind of snack as well. And when doing play therapy, you will always find candy at my office.
Lately I have invited my cat Hugo, who has helped kids that struggle to open up or have anxiety.
(4) Who designed and decorated your therapy office? Did you get help from professionals, colleagues, friends or family?
My office is located in the basement of my house, and has a private entrance and bathroom.
When we bought the house, the basement was badly outdated. With the help of my cousin, who is an architect – www.teresaolea.com – we were able to completely renovate the basement. It became tricky as she lives in Spain but through pictures, floor plans and long conversations of what I needed she was able to completely convert the place into my dream office.
The change itself was easy. We distributed the spaces, chose the materials and right colors and wit the help of a good contractor we were able to create the office you see.
In terms of decoration, I have always loved decorating and looking for furniture so that was the most fun part of all. I of course had the help of my husband and sisters who were able to give me great ideas and stop me from shopping too much. 🙂
(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?
I have found that working in an office that you like and feel comfortable at is a form of self-care.
Before having my own office, I rented a tiny office where I didn’t have much freedom or space to make it my own, and still I was surprised with how something as simple as a plant or a picture can change the feel of an office.
Trying to bring something of yours to the office helps you feel connected to the space which I think translates to doing better work with your clients.
Julia Caruana is a Licensed Clinical Marriage & Family Therapist (LCMFT) with a practice in Bethesda, MD…
She offers family therapy in English and Spanish. She loves working with expectant parents that are struggling to adapt to the new changes and parents that want to improve their relationship with their kids.