FP fans, meet Jane McGiill, a therapist in Littleton, CO!
1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
My office style reflects my personality – comfortable and welcoming, with a bit of whimsy thrown in.
When I walked into this office I knew the view had to be my design focus. My office backs up to a residential neighborhood and I like that feeling of being home.
I gravitate toward neutral colors accented with bright pops of colors. The painting behind the loveseat was painted by my daughter years ago when she was in 8th grade and it was my inspiration for the accent colors in my office.
I found the tin butterfly and loved the combination of the two. I also have a little red wagon that I keep three of my animal stress toys in for an additional pop of whimsy.
2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
I want clients to feel comfortable and safe when they walk into my office. The loveseat is where most of my clients sit. The first time one of my long-time clients walked into my new office, she sat down, opened her arms wide, smiled and said “ah”. That’s the feeling I’m going for. I want clients to be able to take off their shoes and curl up on the sofa, and many do.
In addition, I’m blessed with huge windows in my office with evergreen trees (and birds and squirrels) just outside my windows, which give my office the feeling of being in a tree house. It’s as close as I can get to bringing the outside in and I find it immediately has a calming effect on people.
I also like that my counseling space is separate from my office space. I think this gives my counseling space a feeling of walking into my living room.
3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
I have a basket of bottled water on a bookshelf for my clients (and also water in the waiting room refrigerator), and a dish of Mike & Ikes candies on the side table.
I keep a blanket on the sofa for when it’s chilly in the office or outside, and a very soft huggable pillow at the ready. I work with clients experiencing trauma and anxiety so something to hug is helpful. I also have a small tub of kinetic sand that several of my clients grab as soon as they sit down.
I’m a faith based counselor, so my bookshelf holds several icons that reflect my faith and that of many of my clients – a Madonna and child statute from a monastery I visited in Belgium years ago, a small wooden chalice to hold tears, and a small cross – as well as a picture with one of my favorite bible verses (Philippians 4:6-7) that applies so well to counseling.
4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
I designed my office. My first office was in this same building on the first floor and was only about 100 sf, so when I moved into that office I took great care in my search for furniture to see how it would fit.
A friend of mine and I cut out footprints in paper of the furniture I liked and laid these on the floor of the office to make sure the furniture fit before buying. When this office opened up on the second floor, I had one week from looking at the office and negotiating the lease to moving in so I didn’t have the luxury of time to shop and “design”.
I had pictures of the furniture I had, and took these with me as I quickly purchased a loveseat, another side table (and found one that matched the one I had), an area rug, another bookshelf and couple of accent pieces, and I prayed it would all go together. My loveseat and side table were delivered about an hour before my first client of the day was to arrive; that’s how fast it all came together.
After I moved in, my husband and I painted the walls under the windows to give an accent color that tied into the rug.
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?
Your office is a reflection of your personality, but it also has to be a place in which your clients will feel comfortable. The goal is to mesh the two.
It’s also important to take your own needs and budget into consideration. I spent more money on my loveseat and chairs as I wanted quality and durability, and saved money on the rest of my furniture and accessories, which I found on sale from places like Target or Kirklands, or used what I had in my previous office and home.
I don’t see well in dimly lit places, so a lot of light is a personal need for me.
The bottom line is to design an office that you love so that you’ll want to go to it everyday, and that you smile when you walk into it.