Every Successful Therapy Office Needs…
Secure entrance(s) and exit(s).
Preferably separate doors for the entrance and exit to ensure highest levels of confidentiality. Also, so the clinician doesn’t have to trek through the waiting area to get to their office. We all have those clients who get there super early and some of us are those clinicians who stroll in right before our sessions. Last thing we need is to be running through the waiting area at 9:58AM with our 10:00AM session watching us!
Seating for you and your clients.
Minimum of two chairs. Dependent on the population you see, you may need more seating. No need to spend thousands, but be sure that they are at least comfortable (you’ll be sitting in yours quite often), sturdy (don’t want it falling over on you), and durable (want it to last more than a few sessions).
If you don’t have sound proofing drywall or insulation of some sort (or even if you do) you will most likely have to utilize sound machines within your office hallways, waiting room, office or all the above. The white noise will add a buffer between you and the others in the office suite protecting your clients confidentiality even more.
Make sure it is visible for you and your client (or have two separate ones) and make sure you can actually tell the time on it! Though decorative analog clocks can add a nice flare to your wall, no shame in going digital for the ease on telling time.
Those are the basics that every office NEEDS but below are the common things offices SHOULD have.
Comfortable waiting area for clients.
I don’t mean a hallway or an empty room. I mean a secure, private or semi-private designated waiting area for your clients to sit and wait for their sessions in. This room should have enough chairs to accommodate the office suite and maybe even some reading material, soothing music and aromatherapy.
Suggestion to keep a box by your chair and your clients. Therefore, you will always have a backup for when your client pulls the last tissue mid-session. Stock up and be prepared!
Along with your client clinical hours, comes a good bit of paperwork and documentation. Most clinicians don’t need a large desk but something structured and big enough for your computer can be helpful in getting you out of your “therapist chair” and into a more upright ergonomic typing position.
Must have for all sensitive information and PHI that is not kept within client files. Even if it is a post it note with a client’s name and number on it, don’t toss that in the trash — shred it. Though we are probably the ones taking out our own trash, better safe then sorry. Follow the protocol and protect your clients confidentiality.
I know it’s the 21st century but insurances and HIPAA compliance can be “old school” and sending/receiving a fax is still one of the most secure ways to send PHI.
No one wants to feel like they are under interrogation while in session. If you don’t have the capability to dim your overhead lights, invest in a few standing and table lamps to soften the lighting throughout the space.
Ask yourself the following questions: What do I use my office for? Is my office comfortable? Are there organizational systems in place? Do the colors within the space evoke any emotions? Needing help answering those questions? Read more here.
Lots of therapist don’t invest in WIFI for the office because they can just “document when they get home”. But then you are taking your work home with you which can cause strains on your work life flow, as well as cause complications for abiding by HIPAA. There are tons of ways to get WIFI at your office (that are affordable and portable) so you can document at the office and not have to take your work home with you (literally and figuratively).
Some of the common offices amenities to have in the waiting area are water, coffee, tea, mints, hard candies, reading material, toys for children, music, TV, etc. Some of the common office amenities are blankets, weighted blanket, fidgets, candles, salt lamps etc.
Of course there are other things you will “need” for your office and that will assist you in treating your clients to the best of your ability but this list will get you going.
If you don’t want to hassle with the high startup costs associated with outfitting an office, getting all this set up for yourself and keeping up with replenishing the supplies? Check out the shared workspace of b.mindful Louisville. We provide office rentals for mental health and wellness professionals in the greater Louisville, KY area that are completely furnished and loaded with amenities. Learn more here.
Have additional questions? Feel free to message me and ask!
I’m Shannon, a professional counselor and understand the importance of having a safe space to practice in, consulting, networking, having a solid referral list, and being around other like-minded professionals.