The Therapist’s Office as a Therapeutic Tool (Part 1)

Posted by: Jaclyn Trecartin on May 16, 2014 3:28 pm

I believe that my office/space is a vital tool for the therapeutic process.  This can be pretty obvious: for my work with children, I rely on toys and art supplies—obvious tools of my trade.  However, there is more to my set-up than having certain resources.  I work to keep my space child-friendly and accessible, as I find the best work happens when clients have a broad selection of activities and toys.  Therefore, open-storage is a must.

Aside from the resources kept in your office, there are other things you can do to make the space more conducive to therapy.  The rest of this post will talk about stabilization.  Stabilization, when something is stable and secure, is vital in therapy! When stabilization is seen in an office, clients (and therapists!) feel calmer, and more able to tackle interventions.

Light

Light is so important!  The quality of light in your space is something to not overlook.  Do you have overhead fluorescent lighting?  Floor lamps can be turned on instead, alleviating the harshness.  Ambient lighting, such as twinkle/Christmas lights and accent lamps are both decorative and functional. Not only are floor lamps and ambient lighting helpful in making a room cozier, they have biological importance.  For the most part, when clients come to us, they are in distress and may have hyper- or hypo-aroused nervous systems.  Gentle lighting decreases stimulation, which is helpful for the hyper-aroused, and feels safer than harsh overhead lighting, which benefits both hyper- and hypo-aroused people.  As my office is an interior one, I decided to make a faux-stained glass window with some LED lights behind it.  The lights give a nice warm glow through the coloured panes and the window itself kind of tricks my brain into thinking there is an actual window in the office, making a connection to outdoors.

Nature’s Place Inside

Human beings, over the course of our existence, have spent the majority of their time living with nature versus being indoors.  It is relatively recent in our history to spend so much time away from nature.  I truly believe this disconnection from nature is detrimental.  However, we have to live and function within this world: one that is, for the most part, taking place indoor.  So what can we do?  We can bring the outside in!

Plants

While faux-greenery can be attractive, there is something about real plants that cannot be reproduced in plastic.  One of these benefits is cleaner air!  There are so many options for houseplants— from exotic flowering ones, to hardy (and easy to care for) bamboo—that there is a plant perfect for any space.  Short on space?  You could try a hanging terrarium or two.  Maybe some air plants, which need to be soaked regularly but can spend long periods of time out of water and soil, would be good for you.  Still not convinced that plants will work for you.  Maybe high-quality faux plants would work better: you do not have to worry about watering them and the soil spilling.  Plus, if the eye thinks it sees a real plant, the brain may believe it and the calming-influence of nature can still be obtained.

Miscellaneous Bits and Bobs of Nature

In my office I have bits of nature all around.  Stones and seashells are fun to hold, great in the sand tray, and beautiful additions to my space.  I even have a stick chewed by a beaver lying about (which makes a great talking stick).  A feather you found or flowers you picked can have a place in your office as well.

Bringing the outside into your office is a way to offer stabilization and security to clients (as well as yourself).  The next installment of this topic will look at how we can use noise to further stabilization in the therapy room.

Stay tuned for the second part of this topic, where I discuss the benefits of bringing the outdoors inside!

 

 




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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