FP fans, welcome Traci Ippolito, a therapist in Santa Rosa, CA!
1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
I would say my office is Mid Century Modern, Bohemian, Zen. Some clients have described it as being very inviting and super comfortable.
My office is filled with plants that I think bring an element of nature that both my clients and I appreciate. But mostly what my clients have to say about my office is, “this is so you”. I think it ultimately is a reflection of the many parts of who I am as a person.
It is an authentic representation of the things I love that make me happy.
2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
Hmmm vibe… that is difficult…. I’m not sure I have thought about what vibe I hope it gives off to my clients but my desire is they feel comfortable, supported and nurtured with the vibe I created. I want them to feel like they can relax and truly be themselves in my office.
Just recently I’ve been seeing some clients in person because they have been evacuated from the fires. One of my clients, that had never seen my office said, “Is this your office or part of your living space?” I was giddy because what she meant was that it felt like a comfortable living room.
My clients tend to kick off their shoes and cuddle up with the pillows. I want it to feel very cozy. I desire it to be a safe space for them to feel joy or their deepest pain. I guess I would say I hope the vibe feels nourishing. But ultimately the more my office fosters a sense of calm and warmth for myself the office will hopefully translate into that same experience for clients.
It’s been and incredibly difficult time here in Sonoma County with so many clients that have lost their homes in to the 2017 fires and continue to be in constant danger of it happening again. Sonoma County has been through so much loss these last few years. All I can do is hope my office can be a safe haven for them. There is so much healing that is needed.
3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
I guess I like to think of my entire office as being a creature comfort. But I have sandbags that I lay over their lap when they are feeling anxious. I have some clients that just come in and automatically put them on their lap or around their shoulders.
Additionally, I have an electric fireplace/heater. Not real fire but the ambiance creates a cozy vibe as though you were sitting in your living room. Being a somatic therapist, it’s important they have things in my office that help them feel loved, safe and well cared for.
And lastly, I always have lots of pillows and a blankets so they can stretch out, lie down if they choose, or just kick off their shoes and nestle in to the couch or chair. I just want everything in my office to feel comfortable.
4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
I designed my office entirely myself. Well that’s not actually true. I used Pinterest and your site actually to get inspiration.
I went back and forth around hiring an interior designer. But in the end I didn’t want to be be influenced by anyone else and I decided I was going to embark on the journey alone.
So many times I wanted to bounce an idea of a friend or my husband but I would sit with it and ultimately end up making up my own decision. It was not always easy but in the end I’m so glad I did, because each and every piece has meaning to me and it is something “I” love.
I have always loved design and over the years many friends have actually turned to me for help with their own designing.
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?
So for therapists just starting out… I would say there are so many resources for low cost items or even free items that are fabulous. Your don’t have to spend a lot a money to find pieces/furniture you love at low cost.
I would just say, spend any amount of money you have on a comfortable therapy chair for yourself. Too many new therapists don’t give that to themselves and it’s the one single most important piece in your office, I believe.
Additionally, create in your space what you want to be surrounded by. As for more seasoned therapists, I guess I would give that same advice. Remember your client is only in the office for one hour a week but you are in there for days and many hours. So create what feels good for you and surround yourself with things that feed your soul.
When working with friends I usually start with color first. Then I have them think about what inspires them. Just to start looking at pictures of spaces even if they aren’t offices. From there, the design concept becomes much easier. So I’d say to them to figure out that first and if you don’t know go to Pinterest and just see what you’re attracted to.
Remember your clients are coming to you ultimately for who you are as a therapist and in the world. If your office represents that, they will feel it. I might recommend bouncing ideas off someone that has your same taste so they can help you make decisions.
But more than anything find joy in the process. It can be so much fun and a really great distraction during this difficult COVID time. 🙂
Traci Ippolito is a Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in Santa Rosa, CA….
Learn more about her work at: traciippolito.com