Consulting Rooms

I am continuing to work on a piece about therapists' offices/consulting rooms. In fact if you are a therapist or have been in therapy and would be willing to complete a questionnaire about your.your therapist's office, leave a comment and I will send it to you.

Anyway, I dug out my material by Robert Langs, as he has the most detailed description of what he believes are the best parameters for a therapist's office. He describes them in Psychotherapy: A Basic Text.

“The ideal office for the private practice of psychotherapy should be located in a professional building. It should also be a single office with a private waiting room, not shared with other therapists or physicians. It should have its own bathroom that May be used by therapist and patient...It should have an entrance to the waiting room and a different exit for the patient so there is no contact in the waiting room between patients…

The appointments of the office should be attractive, but as simple and neutral as possible. Plants are an option though magazines tend to be diverting and self-revealing of the therapist and should not be included. Minor objects of decoration and inexpensive posters or prints are optional, since their absence creates a rather austere setting…

Carpeting should be comfortable but not ostentatious. The therapist should have a private closet and a separate coat rack. The consultation room itself should have a comfortable chair for the patient; a comfortable chair possibly with an ottoman for the therapist (and the two chairs should be quite different); and a couch if the therapist intends to make use of one. It is advisable to have a table between the two chairs and between the the therapist’s chair and the couch. The chair May be placed at a desk or not, though it is helpful to have a desk present to provide a sense of professionalism. However, there should be nothing on the desk that is self-revealing, and especially no papers, books, journals, or patient records -- if such exist.” pp.362-364

Now Langs, a psychoanalyst, is of the belief that the therapist can be non-revealing, which I think is open to question as everything about us from the clothes we wear to how we speak and move to how we look reveals significant information about us. What we reveal combined with the way patients interpret that and project onto us are part of the stuff of therapy.

I was amused to contrast what he says is ideal with Freud's consulting room -- looks like the father was a bad therapist by Lang's standards.


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