FP fans, meet Emily Berry, a therapist in Portland, OR!
1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
I think I would describe the style of my office as bright, warm, and inviting. I love having lots of plants and ample natural light, which makes it feel simultaneously lively and calming for my clients (and myself).
My office is small (about 100 square feet) so I really had to get creative in making it feel spacious and comfortable. The design process has been a work in progress and it’s not over yet.
I originally had a white couch with a grey floral/geometric rug. It was beautiful and I loved the way it looked, but having a white couch felt a little bit stressful and I wanted to make my space more comfortable for my clients to be able to get cozy without worry. Now I have a grey couch cover and a teal rug, and the next step for me is to paint the walls a true white and add a mustard yellow accent wall. I’m excited!
No matter what, my office has always felt very much like me, and that’s important. As a humanistic therapist, I believe wholeheartedly in the power and importance of my own authenticity with my clients.
How can I really be authentically myself in a generic space that doesn’t reflect me or allow me to feel at home?
We can only create a safe space for our clients when we are regulated and present in ourselves. When I’m genuinely comfortable and relaxed in my office, my clients will feel more at ease, welcomed, and able settle in themselves to do the work.
2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
Peacefulness, safety, and closeness to nature. I didn’t design the lobby, but I really appreciate that it feels like it aligns nicely with my taste and design.
My office is tucked in the back of the 2nd floor of our building, and clients often comment on how nice the privacy is. I want my office to feel like a sacred space for them.
Also, I love that the large windows open up the space more. When you sit down, you can see lots of trees outside. It’s really nice, it almost feels like we’re up in a tree house.
3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
Yes! I have a large selection of teas and filtered water available every day. I have blankets in my office if clients need. Occasionally I splurge and get some mints or candy to put out.
Since my office is small, there aren’t many options for creating kitchenette or water station, so I had to play around with where to make my tea/water/candy available and where my clients would be comfortable serving themselves.
Not everyone uses these things, but I have noticed a good number of clients include a cup of tea or water as a kind of ritual and routine to get them settled in. I also definitely have a sound machine outside my door for privacy.
4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
The beginnings of my office design had a lot of help from my mother, who has a great eye. Over the years, though, it’s really been my own work as I’ve made more and more changes.
I don’t know much about interior design at all. I really just focused on colors and small touches that felt natural and honest to who I am.
Though I will say, I have had input from other therapist friends when I was undecided about certain things, and that was so helpful.
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?
Start simply, and don’t feel like you have to rush into making it perfect. Your preferences may change as you feel out your practice and the types of clients you are attracting.
I’d say, from my own experience, leave room for flexibility in the design and make changes as you grow. If you find that you aren’t completely comfortable in your office, listen closely to your gut about why, and see what you can do about it. Make a space that you feel excited to be in every day.
Emily Berry is a Master’s level therapist with a M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling…