FP fans, meet Rachel Ann Dine, a therapist in Chesapeake, VA!
1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
When designing my office, I really sought to create a Bohemian Chic vibe as I love the mix of colors and textures that are so keen to the anything-goes, eclectic boho style.
While the bright colors in my rug and artwork bring about cheer, the neutral grays in the couch and pillows provide more of a grounding and calming vibe.
My belief is that part of mental clarity comes from having an organized space with items that bring joy, so I sought to create a light, airy office that still had the added comforts of fun throw pillows and décor, but wasn’t bogged down with clutter and excess.
2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
The first words that come to mind are healing, inspiring, and free spirited.
My therapeutic style is very strength and empowerment based and I work to help clients be their most authentic selves to achieve more peace in their lives. So naturally, I wanted my eclectic office to reflect my therapeutic values that are so heavily based on freedom of self-expression, creating joy in life, and helping clients find pieces of themselves that are unique to them—much like the unique pieces in my space.
Furniture fabric choice, curtains, and the overall environment you create has the propensity to elicit very positive & calming emotions and through hanging sheers, choosing velvet pillows, having a bright area rug, and plant in my space, I was acutely aware that this would increase comfort for clients.
In my therapist off time, I am an artist who paints commissioned pieces and I believe so much in the power of colors related to how they make us feel. I painted the pieces in my office (minus the piece over my gray couch!) keeping the color palette and subject matter in mind as I believe visually interesting art inspires joy and is just pleasing to the eye!
For me, hanging unique art finishes a room and the larger the pieces, the better, as it’s a great way to add some color and depth to a neutral colored wall.
3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
Absolutely! I provide gourmet coffee, creamer, and beverages for clients to enjoy. Maybe this comes from my Southern upbringing, but I believe in the hospitality of providing a warm or cold beverage to clients.
How uncomfortable would it be to have to work a busy day, run into see your counselor, forget your water, and have to sit through an hour of talking feeling thirsty?!
And in addition to this human experience of being soothed by a cold or warm beverage, I do a lot a lot of work around the mind body connection which of course means assessing what clients are doing to nurture themselves at the physical and emotional level. I can’t tell you how many times a client has said, “I really need to drink more water! Do you mind if I grab one?” and boom, water is provided and a new habit is reinforced/reiterated.
Providing extras does add on an added layer of work, but I find it very valuable to the customer service side of my business which is largely self-pay clientele. When clients feel taken care of at these basic levels, it’s meaningful to them and I believe it enhances the therapeutic experience.
4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
I lovingly designed my entire space myself! While I did briefly consult my mom and dad—who are fabulously artistic—on some of the item choices I had (therapy chair, sheer curtains or patterned, etc.), overall, I designed the space through taking into consideration the size of my office in relation to the furniture, color palette, and experience I wanted to create.
I believe that designing a space, whether in your home or office, is much like painting a piece of art—careful consideration of colors, sizes, feelings you want to elicit, and medium must be taken into consideration. In addition to painting, interior design is a creative outlet of mine and it brings me so much joy.
There have been so many fun interior design hacks I’ve learned throughout this process—how to make your space look larger through choosing certain furniture, effectively soundproofing your space as many commercial buildings don’t do this well, and how to know what paintings create the vibe you want for your specific clientele.
As a subset of my current art business, I encourage therapists and private practice owners to reach out to me if they need help in creating their dream space. I recognize that interior design can be overwhelming and I would love to be your creative eyes and ears to help ease the anxiety that may come from creating a beautiful office!
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?
Always know you don’t have to do it all at once. This probably comes from my specialization in working with high achieving, perfectionistic, and Type A clientele, but I see this too much to not mention—don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have the “perfect” office space, especially if you’re just starting out.
Decide on your design theme first. Then, go with the basics initially— a beautiful rug which essentially should be the foundation/base of your office space (there are very affordable rugs on Wayfair and Amazon), a piece of art, a really good therapy chair you enjoy being in, and comfortable couch or chairs for your clients, and go from there!
You can easily add in fun knick knacks, upgrade a lackluster clock, grab a plant, etc., as you build income and clientele. As long as you have the basic elements to create a comfortable space, you’re good!
You also don’t have to spend a fortune. Check out thrift stores, Facebook marketplace, TJMaxx Homegoods, Wayfair, Amazon, and Etsy for furniture and art. One of my favorite parts of the design process is the hunt for the piece of furniture or decor at the right price for your budget!
The last piece of feedback I have is to just have fun with your design. Don’t be afraid to bring in a bit of your own personality and flair because as much as you want to create a comfortable space for clients, you need to feel comfortable, too.
Personal example—I’m not a beige, neutral décor person so I knew that if I created that kind of space, it wouldn’t be true to who I am and therefore I wouldn’t feel as comfortable. If you’re comfortable in your space, it will read that way to clients which I believe will only enhance their comfort level and therapeutic experience. Be yourself in both your therapeutic style AND your office space!
Rachel Ann Dine is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in VA, where she practices in Chesapeake, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in FL, where she’s originally from…