Now is the time to decorate your online therapy office space to create a space that defines and expresses you as a clinician and provides calmness and peace of mind to your clients. If you were not doing telehealth prior to the pandemic, most likely you are now and will be for a while as the numbers to continue to increase for those infected by the virus.
What is the feel you want your clients to have via this online space with you? To make your office comfortable and pleasing for yourself so you can relax and show up at your best for your clients, I recommend the following.
Bringing The Outdoors Indoors
I love being outdoors. When I’m not in an online therapy session and have a break, I step outdoors to breath fresh air. I like to feel the sunshine on my face and body. It’s also nice to listen to the birds sing and chirp. I take time to look at the colors of trees and flowers to rest my mind and eyes from online fatigue.
Since I’m not able to go outside during sessions with clients, I bring the outdoors inside. In my online therapy office space, I use live greenery. For example, a tall green potted plant placed directly to the side of me and in plain sight for my client to look at. I have a vase of bright, fresh flowers sitting on top of a desk in the corner of the room.
Objects in Your Visual Field
I have a handful of fidget items such as stones and crystals on my desk in front of my computer that my clients are not able to see. These items help me stay grounded and centered throughout the day.
I have personal spiritual objects around my online therapy office and computer that are meaningful to me. I also light a candle (Battery powered candles work fine too!) and use a lighted salt rock to create calmness and tranquility in the room and within me.
These objects are pleasing to the eye. They also relax the body to decrease anxiety, tension, stress, irritation, sadness, etc. Clients have expressed these items uplifts their mood. They give clients other things to look at in my online room other than myself.
Create an Online Office Backdrop
Think of your online therapy office as if your client was physically present in the room with you. Most clients tend to gaze at other objects in the room beside the clinician during an in-person session. The intent is to mirror how a client would experience the session in a room physically with you.
The first thing that clients notice is what is in the background of the room of the person who is talking. I have noticed this for myself with all of the “Zoom” rooms I’ve been in the last four months for trainings, consultations, classes, webinars, and meditations. I find myself looking at the books on their shelves, the art on the wall, the color of the wall, or an object that catches my eye.
Some of the rooms I see look more generic than others, and some are more defined and detailed. Either is fine; there is no right or wrong to decorating. It’s a personal choice, but there are some things to consider when making choices on how to decorate an online office.
To make for a pleasing backdrop on camera, I use a free-standing screen. The screen I use has muted painted flowers on it that is not too distracting to the client.
Objects for Online Therapy Clients
Colorful and/or scenic photos or paintings are also pleasing to the eye. They also give the client the opportunity to have something else to look at while processing difficult emotions and feelings with you during your online therapy session.
Have a Good Therapist Chair
Purchase a good chair that has a lever to change its height. The lever will come in handy if you want to change the angle of your computer screen or if you switch back and forth from desktop to laptop. I’ve also noticed that arm supports offer more comfort, especially as the day progresses in online therapy sessions with clients.
One thing we do know for sure, the pandemic is not going to be going away anytime soon. Since it’s not leaving, the use of online therapy for mental health professionals is here for at least a bit longer. As a result, you may be deciding whether to give up, renew your lease, or just work from your home. Whatever your decision, you will want to create a personal touch to your online therapy office.
To read more blog posts by Lisa Lewis, check out How to Create a Wellness Room to Relieve Anxiety, Stress and Fear which was featured on Practice of the Practice.