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3 Tips For Setting Up Your Counselling Office in Private Practice:

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Are you ready to set up your counselling space?

Planning your office can be a wonderful opportunity to be creative and to integrate some of who you are, as both human and practitioner, into your practice.

Whether you hope to offer in-person sessions or run your practice online, planning your counselling room might be an important part of your business and service-offering for clients. The therapy room isn't simply a place we meet with our clients, but it is also an extension of our service; a place facilitative of healing; one that communicates some of who we are and how we might work; and somewhere we need to feel comfortable in too, to effectively support our clients in practice.

Setting up your counselling room is likely to be a very personal process, but here are three tips to help you get started:

1. Make your counselling room a sanctuary for you and your clients

It can help for your space to feel inviting, comfortable, safe and somewhere that both you and your clients want to spend time in. This might benefit both business and practice - if your space is therapeutic and comfortable, clients may want to return. Similarly, if you feel comfortable (physically and emotionally in your space) this might be supportive of therapeutic presence and maintaining connection with your clients as well.

This applies to both in-person and remote offices. If you conduct sessions over Zoom, it might be worth thinking about your 'frame' as your virtual counselling space (what clients can see and hear in-session with you and how this might impact the online therapeutic environment).

Here are some ideas for creating a therapeutic sanctuary:

  • Lighting

  • Therapist comfort item (eg. favourite mug)

  • Client comfort items (eg. tea/coffee/water facilities, blankets, cushions, tissues, etc.)

  • Ambiance extras (eg. candles, cushioned seating, rugs, wall hangings, plants, etc.)

2. Choose a good location

If you plan to work in-person, your physical location may be important. I recently shared a brief list of some considerations for your practice location on Instagram (@privatepracticebusiness) which I expand on here.

It may be helpful to consider:

  • Noise levels

  • Confidentiality - for example, are you in a busy town centre? This might be important to clients when making their decision about a therapist. Even though we do our best to preserve a client's confidentiality, there may be elements we can't control. For example, if a client is entering the counselling office from a busy street they might be seen by someone they know. It's possible that if a client feels too visible to the outside world they might not want to attend sessions. Similarly, if your office is in a busy spot, will you have to keep your windows closed and how might this impact your space?

  • Accessibility - thinking about public transport as well as disabled access.

  • Potential running costs

  • Your own commute

  • Your local 'market’ (are there other therapists in the area and how might this impact your business?)

2. Consider your room layout

The layout of your counselling room might also support a comfortable and effective therapeutic environment. Here are some things to think about when exploring an effective layout:

  • Will you have one or two clocks easily visible to both you and your clients? Some clients like to manage their own session time alongside you.

  • It's helpful to reflect on your feelings about personal items in your office, like family photos. How might this land with clients? Similarly, having inspirational quotes on display can land differently with people too.

  • Where might you place any therapeutic tools so they can be easily accessed in-session?

  • Will you have your certificates visible?

  • If you chose to have a panic button handy, where will this live?

  • If you are working on Zoom, will your desk position be important?

Thinking about our counselling practice, there are many factors that might influence effective therapeutic work and business success. The environment we create for our clients can be one of these factors, which highlights the importance of planning this space well and with care.

If you found these tips helpful, and plan to work in-person, I have also included a free downloadable checklist for your in-person counselling room, to help get you started with setting things up.


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