FP fans, meet Dana McNeil, a therapist in San Diego, CA!
1. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
I like to think of my office as warm, earthy, inviting, comfortable, serene, and calming.
I have a client that says when she makes an appointment with me that she notes on her calendar that she is going to the “Spa.” She says she always feels that way after having a session, like she has done some good self-care and feels recharged.
I like to believe the environment of my office lends to that experience.
2. WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
I hope my office says to my clients, “Come on in, take off your shoes, have a seat, get comfortable, and let’s settle in for a chat.”
I don’t want my office to feel like a medical model in any way, shape, or form.
I really hope my clients feel they are in a space that shows my personality and allows them to feel safe expressing theirs.
I am often asking my clients to go to some really dark and scary places emotionally. The least I can do is provide them a warm environment.
3. DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
My “must haves” in the office: Water, chocolate, mints, blankets, flowers, the smell of vanilla, and never using overhead lighting.
Also my favorite place to be is on the beach taking a walk looking for sand dollars. My art work has an ocean theme.
It’s a twofer- I get to visualize being there when I have a hard session and clients get to look at something calming when they are in session.
4. WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
I came up with a vibe and emotion I was hoping to convey in my office space. My best friend, who has very definite opinions, helped me bring it together. He has been very good at letting me know when something I was thinking about deviated from my vision.
He has been to therapists in the past and was really cognizant of making sure the client didn’t feel intimidated by my furniture and decor.
My husband has been a godsend helping me move everything around, wait for deliveries, hang pictures, and be my sounding board. It was a collaborative effort!
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?
Think about creating an office look that inspires clients to come hang out fora hour a week and actually look forward to the experience.
Make sure you have comfortable seating that is built well. It is going to get a workout, and the money you invest now will be well worth it.
Your office is part of your branding. The way you present your care in setting up a warm environment is an extension of how well cared-for your clients feel.
Dana McNeil is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) in San Diego, California…