Creating a Therapeutic Space

What is therapeutic space?  

Therapeutic space refers to the conditions that create a safe space for healing and transformation to occur within therapy.  The ideal conditions of a therapeutic space are both physical and psychological. For example, if you were to come visit me in my office location, you would transition into the therapeutic space in a number of ways that we would both take for granted. For example, as you get yourself to the office you might be thinking about how you would like to make use of your time in therapy.  You might leave plenty of time for unanticipated traffic delays and perhaps make sure you have eaten or taken care of other pending personal activities and communications in your day before coming to therapy.  This is the role you unconsciously play in creating therapeutic space.

Meanwhile, I would be in my office, preparing for your arrival.  This is how I physically and psychologically create the therapeutic space.  Perhaps I am boiling some water for our tea, thinking over recent themes of our last sessions or taking care of my own personal needs in order to be fully present in the room with you when you arrive.  It is important for you to fully feel that I am in the room waiting for your arrival at our scheduled time; it is a way I show respect for our work together and our time.

I love receiving people into the warmth and safety of the therapy room and I am serious about creating the same therapeutic space online.  I always leave time in between my sessions in order to prepare to receive each client in this way, so that I am fully present when we log-on for our session, without distractions on my desk or surroundings.  Since you cross no physical threshold to arrive to the therapy space, I want you to feel the symbolic “door” into the therapeutic space as we begin each session. With online therapy, this means that we both make sure that the conditions are right to ensure therapeutic privacy, emotional safety, and focus.  

How We Create Therapeutic Space

Here are some suggestions that I have for you that will help us co-create a therapeutic space.

  1. Arrive early to sessions. Hurray for the convenience of online therapy, but make sure to give yourself time to mentally transition from your busy life into the focused therapy hour.  
  2. Take care of your needs before our scheduled time to meet. Multitasking during the therapy hour doesn’t work.
  3. Eliminate potential interruptions. Send that last text or email and turn off the phone.  Close out all other running programs or apps on your screen and put it on “do not disturb” for the therapy time. If you must leave your phone on, please place it out of your line of vision and on vibrate.
  4. Let the other people in your world know that you will be unable to receive communications at this time–either within your home or office or through your technology. Make the therapy hour a sacred time. You are paying by the minute for therapy–don’t let other people take the time that you have generously set aside for yourself!
  5. Take a few moments to consider what would be the highest and best use of our working time together. This might mean journaling prior to a session, noticing how your body is feeling, or simply allowing your uninterrupted thoughts free reign for a few minutes before we begin.  
  6. Check to make sure your camera is working and you are not backlit. If you are using a tablet or phone, find a stable place to prop it up so you don’t have to hold it during the session. I need to be able to read your facial expressions and you should be able to read mine.

More questions?  My free 20 minute consultations are a time for us to meet and give you a feel for online therapy and if it is right for you.