FP fans, meet Marina Braff, a therapist in Hermosa Beach, CA!
1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
My office is bright, happy, colorful, and cozy. I have had clients and colleagues describe it as a magical sanctuary, a safe space, and a room that feels like being in my house.
When I was designing my space, I wanted my office to feel approachable, eclectic, and have a bit of the bohemian beach vibes, given that the ocean is just a block away.
2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
I want my space to make my clients feel comfortable, safe, and happy that they have decided to make time for themselves. I hope that when they come in, they smile when they see the new flowers, take a sigh of relief when they smell my candle burning, and feel as though they can sink into the couch and show up fully as themselves.
When my friends have come in, they take their their shoes off, find a place on my rug or cozy up on to the couch and immediately open up about what is happening their world – happy or not. Seeing that happen with my peers and clients alike was the greatest indicator that I made my vision a reality.
Each client connects to a different part of my office – the flowers, the candles, the artwork – and they recognize it each time they come in. It gives them a sense of continuity and connectedness to the space they are showing up to each week.
3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
There are sound machines in the lobby as well as in my room in order to ensure confidentiality.
We provide water and tea in the waiting room. One of my favorite things to do is to hold an oversized mug of something warm and get real about what is going on in someone’s life. I have heard that this ritual does in fact bond people together and I have noticed a true shift in conversation when I do this with my clients.
In my room itself I always have fresh flowers and a candle lit.
In addition, I have an array of indoor plants. I joke to my clients that they are there to absorb all of the stress so that clients don’t have to take home their struggles. As cheesy as it sounds, they go with it, and I have noticed that clients will occasionally look off to the flowers or plants right before, or after, they have talked about a challenging issue.
The plants are a grounding force and add a tremendous amount of beauty and color to the space.
I believe that being around nature is so healing; in decorating my space, I wanted to bring as many of nature’s elements in to give client’s an added bonus during their time spent with me.
4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
One of the reasons this office means so much to be is because it was such a team effort. Before moving in, I spent hours on Pinterest, bouncing ideas off my parents, talking logistics with my boyfriend, and making runs to HomeGoods with my girlfriends more times than I’d like to admit.
This office has been a dream of mine since grad school and with a month of planning and a weekend of hard work, my vision came to life.
The South Bay is filled with so many talented people – artists and small business owners alike. Because of this, I am a huge advocate of shopping small and keeping things local. My favorite pieces in my office have come from stores across the street and in the next town over. Knowing this makes me feel like my space is part of this small, beautiful beach community.
I would like to give a special shout out to the incredible artist whose work encapsulates my work: colorful, peaceful, and full of life. Drica Lobo was one of the first artists I met when I moved to the South Bay. Having her art in my office makes me smile every day and clients make comments about how happy they are when they look at her bright paintings.
Lastly, this space would not be possible without the other therapists I share my office suite with, Tristan Coopersmith, MFT and Jennifer Chrisman, PSYD. These women mentored me during my internship and gave me the opportunity to create a space that truly feels like my own sanctuary (not to mention, their own styles are something that I have always looked up to and admired).
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?
Before making any purchases, spend some time in your space and visualize what furniture pieces you need, having a broad idea as to where each piece will go. Have a color scheme, but don’t be tied to it. Think of what represents you and what it is about you that your clients enjoy and appreciate.
Don’t think that you need to spend a fortune to make the space look sophisticated. There are plenty of websites out there that offer beautiful furniture at affordable prices (just make sure you check the return policy)! Have a vision board going and know your “must-haves.” That fiddle fig tree was my number one must and having it in my room makes me ridiculously happy.
Lastly, it’s ok to feel overwhelmed.
Furnishing a space that will be a container for healing, transformation, and growth is a big deal.
Go with your gut, have a second set of eyes nearby to give things a fresh look, and everything will come together beautifully!
Marina Braff is a Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT) in Hermosa Beach, CA…
Photographer: Michael Artega