FP fans, meet Brittany Bridges, a therapist in Plano, TX!
1) How would you describe the style of your therapy office?
My office style is mostly mid-century modern chic. I highly value sophistication and elegance so naturally you will see that reflected in the space.
The atmosphere of my office has been described as “hip” but without sacrificing professionalism. In my space you can expect to see big color pops, beautiful artwork, and clean lines and finishes. And trust me, this didn’t happen overnight! I spent many (probably way too many!) hours dreaming, planning, strategizing, and coming up with a budget that I could live with to do this thing. It was not easy, but it was worth it.
I consider my space a true “labor of love” that I offer to my clients. Every aspect of the design has been thoroughly contemplated and carefully constructed with attention to detail.
2) What vibe do you hope your office gives your therapy clients?
I really want my clients to be able to experience an immediate sense of calm, peace and tranquility when they enter my office.
My goal is to create an “oasis” for clients; a safe and confidential place that fosters an environment of vulnerability, openness, and trust. I believe that these things are essential to the therapeutic relationship and must be established before clients can truly begin the process of engaging in deep and meaningful therapeutic work.
The therapist (and the therapeutic relationship) is the more fundamental part of the equation here, without question. Having said that, aesthetics are also a valuable component to “creating the magic” in my opinion.
I operate a private practice that is 100% private pay and generally stays pretty full. My ideal client is one that likely values and expects a high-end experience when it comes to any service they are paying for, especially ongoing weekly therapy sessions which require such an investment and commitment.
Sometimes I ask clients what led them to choose me as their therapist. Most will answer by saying that they sought me out at the recommendation of a trusted treatment provider or by a word-of-mouth referral based on my treatment competency and expertise. Some say they read something in my website content that really resonated.
Regardless of how clients end up in my office, I consistently receive positive feedback about the “vibe” people get from the space. Clients really appreciate a calm, safe, relaxing, and aesthetically pleasing place where they can bring their raw feelings, pain, and deepest wounds.
3) Do you have any creature comforts in your office for clients?
Absolutely I do!
But first, and in the interest of full disclosure, let me just go ahead and get this out of the way… I haven’t always been a believer in providing “extras” for therapy clients.
Back when I did agency work and even in the first years of being in private practice, I would hear of other therapists offering certain amenities to their clients (i.e. snacks, coffee, etc.). I didn’t understand why a therapist would feel the need to bring anything more than themselves and their undivided attention to a session.
Fast forward to today, and having been in private practice for several years now, I have changed my tune with regard to “creature comforts” for therapy clients for several reasons:
- Clients have choices when it comes to choosing a therapist so why not go the extra mile? (as long as it doesn’t hinder the therapeutic process, that is)
- Clients appreciate the “little things” offered to increase their level of comfort
- Clients can often do deeper and more meaningful work if they aren’t hungry or thirsty
- Never underestimate the comfort and warming power of a warm mug of coffee or tea to help create that calming environment!
- I myself value and enjoy being offered such comforts when I visit a treatment provider
- It doesn’t take much effort on my part to provide these things and I honestly enjoy doing it
So, with that said, I offer the following “creature comforts” in my practice: distilled bottled water, sparkling bottled water, tea, and mints as far as refreshments are concerned.
I have a white noise machine that is always on, primarily for confidentiality purposes but most clients find the sound to be very soothing. I also have an essential oil diffuser that talk therapy clients especially enjoy and can turn on if they choose. I like to diffuse lavender, peppermint, and other blends that are soft and not overpowering that also promote a sense of relaxation and calm. As a bonus, the diffuser also has a setting that features the soft sound of trickling water which is really nice.
In a basket next to my bookshelf you will find an array of “play” items for clients to enjoy including a set of rattlesnake egg magnets, a fidget spinner, a couple of jars of “Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty,” a Dammit Doll, some handheld stress balls, soapstone figurines inscribed with empowering words, a cozy wrap, and of course a couple of cushy pillows and soft, fuzzy blankets.
4) Who designed and decorated your therapy office? Did you get help from professionals, colleagues, friends, or family?
Again, full disclosure. I am not about to take all the credit for this design, lest I be struck by lightning or something. In my experience it definitely takes a village.
Even at my max capacity, my creative juices can only flow so much. After all, I am a therapist not an interior designer. Sigh.
I actually had a lot of help bringing this design together. While I did choose things like the main color palette, the furniture pieces, the artwork, the lighting, and the general “vibe” I wanted to create, there are others (for which I am beyond grateful) who offered their help and design expertise.
Beth is a friend from my church home group who actually loves this kind of thing. When I first told her that I was redesigning my office and moving into a new space she lit up like a Christmas tree. I showed her a couple of pictures of things I had either already purchased or was about to and her wheels immediately started turning. This girl made my life much easier as I’m sure you can imagine, and I let her go hog wild.
Beth put in many hours brainstorming, sifting through ideas online, stalking Pinterest for the perfect added touches, and offering her ideas and opinions. Most of the time I just responded with “Yes, here is my credit card.” LOL. She taught me that it is totally okay to accept help from others (as opposed to doing it all myself- old habits die hard).
She also inspired me to think outside the box and take some design risks that were a bit outside my comfort zone, for instance, swapping out most of my silver and embrace the gold (because apparently that is what is on trend at the moment).
Beth, if you’re reading this then I hope you hear a heart filled with gratitude and thanks for helping bring this awesome new design to fruition. I couldn’t have done it classy without you. 😊
Then there are my faithful friends, Mark and Marti, of many years now that are always available to lend a helping hand in a time of need. Without their help I would not have things like beautiful curtains installed that have been perfectly been ironed with care. I would still have artwork on the floor and no idea where it “fits into the space” as Marti always says.
More importantly, without the two of them I would not have had anyone to laugh (and cry) with all night and well into the early morning hours of the same day I would start seeing clients. (Yes, that was stressful!) The two of them selflessly gave their time, energy, design expertise (Marti is formerly a very successful home stager and business owner) and ate pizza with me at midnight.
I love you guys and pray that I can return the blessing at some point.
5) Any advice for therapists who are just starting out and designing their offices for the first time, or seasoned therapists looking to redesign their office?
To answer your question, I will throw in my two cents.
1. Work with what you have, don’t overextend.
To be candid, when I first started my private practice just over three years ago, I had to do it on a boot strap budget. I did not have the luxury of going to the furniture gallery for a shop-a-thon “a la Pretty Woman” with a limitless credit card in hand.
I shopped garage sales. I found deals online. I haggled. Never mind that it turned out to be rather “eclectic” in style (aka a huge hodgepodge), I loved it because I was working with what I had. It was beautiful and it was mine. I loved it and my clients loved it. That’s all that matters.
Remember that everyone starts somewhere.
2. Feel proud of the space you create and don’t compare yourself to others.
Whether you are designing and decorating your very first office space or are a seasoned therapist changing things up, I encourage you to choose the color palette, style, and vibe that make you happy.
Of course, we design our offices with our clients in mind but at the end of the day, it’s your workspace and you want to feel good in it. I don’t know about you but for 8+ hours a day most days I want to love the space I’m in.
3. Don’t be afraid to incorporate some things that reflect your personality.
I know there is the whole “blank slate” school of thought for therapists but I no longer reside in that camp. Clients enjoy knowing trivial bits of information about their therapist; it just makes us more human and relatable.
Example: I love bulldogs. Therefore, I proudly display one or two figurines inside my bookcase. It’s fun for me and it’s a great talking point that can easily break the ice with an anxious client.
4. Try to design your office space with your ideal client in mind.
5. Make sure that a comfortable, supportive chair is worked into the equation when designing your space.
If I was only allotted one splurge, one big ticket item then it would, without a doubt, be a therapist chair.
Again, remember that as a therapist in private practice you’ll likely be sitting for multiple hours a day. Do yourself a favor and save your back. Treat yourself. You deserve it.
6. Enlist the help of your people.
Whether you’re desperately in need some design advice or you physically need help making your space a reality, don’t hesitate to reach out. In my experience people are happy to help and it will certainly help to unload a little of the stress and responsibility.
Brittany Bridges is an LPC, LCDC-Intern, & EMDR Trained Counselor in Plano, TX…
Brittany is accepting new referrals in the Plano, TX area!
Brittany is accepting new clients in the Plano, TX area!