As all sessions have moved online and will continue to be for the next few months, I’ve become more aware of the what it’s like to be in the actual therapy space. My office is a place where I have been intentional with design choices, layout, and furniture to provide a place of coziness and comfort. All the objects have been carefully curated to help my clients feel at ease and to serve as a preview of my style. I’ve moved my tissue box no more than a dozen times to make sure my clients have easy access and they don’t have to go searching for it. Oh, and the intentional placement of a trash can close by so a client does not have to keep holding on to their dirty tissues.
In a session many years ago, my therapist didn’t have a trash can that was easy to find and by the end of the session my purse was full of snotty and wet tissues – gross! However, it felt like too much for me to ask where to put them. It was so similar to life where I was used to just trying to make everyone else happy. I didn’t want to inconvenience my therapist by asking for a trash can. And yes, I do realize how irrational that sounds, but in that moment, there seemed to be no other option.
As someone who also has been in therapy, I pull from my own experience where I feel the most comfortable and what my needs are. However, like everyone, I know I have blind spots, and what I need in therapy can be very different from what my client may need. Throughout our sessions I frequently check in about how it feels for someone to sit in my therapy space.
But how does this look while meeting online? I try to make sure I’m providing services in the same location in my office – with the same art. I’ve tried many different ways to light the room to help clients be able to see my face clearly. I have had clients do their sessions in their cars, in their bathrooms, in a closet, or even in a treehouse. Dr. Seuss would love it – “I can do therapy anywhere.”
I always encourage my clients to find somewhere quiet, keep a drink nearby, and, of course, have some tissues ready for times when the tears come. My hope is to be able to continue to help clients feel held and safe, even while in our separate spaces, and enable them to work through significant circumstances and feelings.