I am so excited to introduce a new segment to The Inspired Therapist’s Blog! When I was redecorating my office in the fall I was curious about how other therapists arranged and decorated their spaces. I wanted inspiration! But I couldn’t find much through my Google searching. And once I had my office done it how I wanted it, for my first few years I was subletting space or going with what I could on a limited budget, I was excited to show other people because it is really special to me.
If you are starting out in private practice or are in the middle of redoing your space, I invite you to be inspired by the offices we feature. If you have an office you adore that leaves you feeling inspired, I would love to feature your space on our blog. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know that you would like to participate.
Picking and Office Space When You are Starting Out
Now let’s talk about office space. My first office here in Houston was picked based on cost. It was $300 a month to use the space part-time, which was all I needed. It was an interior room with no windows and the fluorescent overhead light was so bright that I used lamps. My clients later would refer to that space as “the cave”. If you are starting off, I recommend finding a place that is affordable even if you don’t have any clients, because in the beginning it can be slow. I also recommend finding a place that you don’t have to commit to long term. My lease was month-to-month and allowed for me to use more days as needed. This was helpful as I grew. I recommend no long term commitment at first because you may find that the area you picked was perfect, or you may find that a lot of people who are reaching out to you are in a different area or have different needs. Oftentimes I will have people who selected me because I was close to their work. Getting started it can be helpful to be around other therapists with different specialties so that you can get referrals and have people to refer clients to, or be in a space with a variety of providers so that you have referral sources. My first landlord was busy and well established but didn’t work with children, but I did at the time. She was happy to pass along children to me, which was a good boost in the beginning.
Pay Attention to Accessibility
Once I had a solid client base I was able to move out of my first office into an office I really wanted. I looked at a lot of offices. Often our clients are coming weekly. I think of weekly appointments I go to and the biggest thing, as a consumer, that I pay attention to is accessibility. I went to a chiropractor that I really liked, but he was in a high rise office building and I didn’t like how long it took to find parking and walk in. So I found a new chiropractor. I picked my doctor based on convenience. I found a doctor’s office within walking distance and that is the one I go to. Same with my son’s pediatrician. I had been recommended to a person across town but the drive was too inconvenient so I found someone closer. These things matter. Often my clients are coming in at their appointment time and don’t want to have to spend five minutes finding parking and navigating a building. I am not saying you cannot do it this way, but I am encouraging you to notice your experience when you are checking out places to see how the overall process of getting in and out is. My office is on the third floor of a building with no stairs so I make sure to mention that in the introduction email in case a client cannot come up the stairs and I need to find an alternate location.
Set an Intention for Your Space
Before your pick a space or once you have your space, it is important to set an intention for the space. How do you want clients to feel when they walk in? This is your space too where you sit and work each day. How do you want to feel in your space? There is no right or wrong answer here, but it is important that you are clear about it.
Take an Inventory of Your Space Regularly
Once I had found my dream office I set it up and then forgot about it for a couple of years. The office was great, but I did not do much to furnish it how I really wanted. One fateful Friday, I had almost every client reschedule. I was already at work, so I decided to head to HomeGoods and pick up some things to freshen up my space. That was my favorite day all year. I was able to update the space to reflect how I wanted my clients to feel: welcomed, cozy, and well loved. Without paying attention I had let a lot of things slip by that I didn’t even know about until I changed it. The biggest area I had neglected was my entry way and my refreshment area. It is easy to walk by those things without thinking twice, but once I gave them a little love, it changed the entire energy of the space. Take a look at your space with fresh eyes and see, what could use a little love?
Find an inspirational photo! It is like a north star that will guide you. My favorite place for affordable inspiration? This amazing website: www.copycatchic.com
My favorite tip for getting perspective on a space? Take a photo. I can often see things in photos (gaps I need to fill, color I need to add, walls that look bare) more easily when I am looking at a photo of the space.
I cannot wait to share inspiring offices with you! Next week I will share my office and what I love the most about it.