“A space should be something that supports you as you try to achieve specific goals,” – Sally Augustin, PhD, Founder of Design With Science 
In any practice, professionals make use of space for a specific purpose. The same goes for therapy spaces. Practitioners want to use their therapy space to help their clients. By making simple yet well-thought-out design choices, you can fully utilise your therapy space to achieve your goals in every session. Here are some considerations you can make on how to design therapy spaces.
Why Designing Therapy Rooms Is Important
The environment that surrounds people in a certain space can greatly affect their mood, behaviour, and disposition while they stay there. (1) In therapy, practitioners are helping clients work towards a certain goal and mindset. This includes designing the right therapy spaces as this is where consultations and sessions happen. By creating a welcoming and calming space, it can help clients be at ease during sessions. The right setting helps establish trust, making them more comfortable to open up to you.
As practitioners owning a business, be mindful of how your therapy spaces are laid out and designed. For this, there are many things to consider, including accessibility, room theme or colour, lighting, fixtures, furniture and decorations, and more.
Considerations On Therapy Room Design
Different people have different physical needs. In coming up with a design for your therapy spaces, remember this: it’s an ethical obligation that you, as a practitioner, should fulfil. In some countries, such as the United States, it’s so a legal obligation you must fulfil. (2)
Make sure, every one of your clients can be accommodated and can move around comfortably in your space. Choose a space that’s big enough for wheelchairs to move around. Add braille labels where they’re needed, such as room signs. When thinking about how to design therapy spaces, consider the many types of clients that may enter your door.
Colour plays an integral part in your therapy space’s overall design and feel. In choosing a colour, there are several factors that you can consider. The first one is age. Younger people, such as children and teens, tend to associate lighter colours with positive emotions. Some young adults and a lot of older adults tend to like blue, while green and red are the favourites of many young adults.
Another factor is physiology since colour usually has physical effects on people who see it. For example, warm colours tend to stimulate, while cooler tones promote relaxation. (2)
In general, you would want to choose a light colour that is relaxing and makes both you and your clients feel comfortable. If your practice caters to all demographics, choose a colour that would cater to all of such people. Meanwhile, if it’s specialised, you should consider what is appropriate to the demographic you’re serving.
- Fixtures and Lighting
(Image credit: Pursuit)
A lot of clients tend to be more comfortable in open spaces. Having windows is a must for many practitioners. Having windows in a room caters to the instinct of self-preservation among people since it gives them a view that gives off a feeling of not being confined. (3)
In terms of bringing light into the therapy space, having a windowed room is also a plus as it lets natural light in. Natural light helps a lot in promoting a positive mood to everyone in the room. When push comes to shove and there is a need for artificial lighting, it’s better to opt for table lamps that emit a soft glow, instead of overhead, harsh, fluorescent and incandescent lights. (4)
When choosing decors, it’s best to keep nature in mind as it is a good theme to go for. Choosing furniture made up of natural materials such as wood is a plus.
Also, consider the spaces between your furniture. How far should your chair be from where the client is sitting? How far should the couch be from the centre table? Consider the best placements of your furniture to maximise your space.
Apart from the general decor, having some items that can stimulate the eyes and promote “positive distractions” are good to have around. (4) Some such decor includes a fish tank or natural landscape artworks that people can look at while in your office.
Additionally, do not hesitate to reinforce the trust you’re building with your client. Display your credentials, and let people know that they are in good hands. Hanging your credentials on your wall will help many clients to stay at ease while in your office.
Extra tip: The design of your welcoming room or waiting room is just as important. Design the place with comfort in mind so that clients can wait for their session with you without feeling anxious. Accent pieces are great and so are beautiful paintings that you feel your clients can resonate with.
Therapy spaces should serve as a refuge for clients who are in your care. The design of your therapy spaces needs to be well-thought-out to be a productive space as well as offer a safe haven where clients can find solace.
When you are in the process of creating and designing your therapy space, remember to put yourself in the shoes of your client. What kind of space will your clients like? What design will help them get into the right headspace? You may have to change things up from time-to-time to find the best layout and design. It will be worth it if your clients respond to you better, so keep at it!