If you’re a private mental health practitioner, you’re likely already aware of the potential of your office to serve as a safe space for clients. It can be important for clients to feel comfortable sharing personal details of their lives while in session, and the environment they’re in can make all the difference. In addition to being welcoming to clients, it can be vital to ensure that your office is located somewhere you feel comfortable, productive, and focused.
If you are looking for a brick-and-mortar home for your private practice, there are a few factors that may be worth considering. Here, we’ll explore some crucial elements to keep in mind as you search for the right office for your therapy practice. With a detailed understanding of what to look for, you can feel more equipped to sign on the dotted line and move into your new therapy office.
The Importance Of The Right Office Space
As soon as a client walks into your waiting room, they may notice clues as to what they can expect from you and your practice. Soft lighting, tasteful decor, and natural light may help visitors feel comfortable and welcome, while cluttered, poorly lit, or noisy environments may communicate the wrong message. When searching for an office space, look for one you feel properly conveys a professional image while also remaining aware of any details that may give clients the wrong impression.
A comfortable, pleasant office can be crucial for helping you maintain productivity and focus as you conduct sessions and manage the day-to-day operations of running your practice. You may benefit from having a quiet and well-designed space in which to think clearly, engage in self-study and professional development, and be fully present with your clients.
What To Look For
When considering office space, begin by taking inventory of both your needs and your clients’. It may be worth considering the following factors as you search for and tour available properties:
- Size: Evaluate how much space you will need. You may consider having a dedicated space for group therapy, child therapy, or admin and storage.
- Time: If you only need an office for a certain amount of time each day or week, consider subleasing in a co-working space. Alternatively, you might lease a dedicated office space for your practice if you know you’ll need it regularly.
- Budget: The expenses associated with leasing office space may be your largest overhead expense. Therefore, it can be essential to consider your budget and long-term growth plan before signing a lease on a new therapy space.
- Location: If possible, try to find a location convenient to your clients. Consider proximity to public transportation, parking availability, neighborhood profile, visibility and signage, ADA accessibility, ease of commute, and other factors.
- Amenities: Consider amenities and utilities, such as Wi-Fi and cell phone reception, keyless access, heating and air, and bathrooms, ensuring the space is well-maintained and conducive to a professional atmosphere.
- Waiting Area: The welcoming area of an office often forms a client’s first impression of the space and practice. You can create a welcoming waiting area and help make a positive impression by considering offering amenities like free Wi-Fi, reading material, and simple refreshments.
- Accessibility: Ensure that the space is accessible to all, with clear signage, an elevator if needed, and accessible bathrooms. You might also consider the ease of accessibility by car, foot, or public transit.
- Safety: Look for office space in a safe neighborhood, ensuring the building has secure entry systems and is compliant with all public health and safety codes.
- Soundproofing: For mental health professionals, confidentiality is paramount. Check the acoustics of prospective therapy offices. Some spaces offer soundproof walls and white noise to ensure conversations remain private.
Types Of Office Space Options
Many therapists choose to work in shared spaces, a budget-friendly option that may offer a valuable way to connect with others and grow your professional network. You may also choose to rent your own space in an office building rather than subleasing through a co-working space. Another popular option is to have sessions in your home office, which may be beneficial for helping you achieve a healthy work-life balance. Depending on your preferences and needs, you may consider one of the following:
- Coworking Spaces
As the mental health industry grows, therapy co-working spaces have become more popular. Check to see whether your city has co-working spaces specifically designed for mental health professionals. It may be possible to rent therapy rooms by the hour or day or to sublease a dedicated space in a therapy office. If offering online-only sessions, you may also be able to lease a private office space in a traditional co-working space, which might help you maintain a boundary between home and work.
Coworking spaces tend to be equipped with modern amenities and may have additional features such as soundproof walls, waiting rooms, group therapy rooms, and kitchens. These spaces can provide immense flexibility whether you’re offering in-person or online appointments and also allow you to scale up or down as your practice grows.
- Leasing Office Space
Another option may be to lease an office in a medical or commercial building. Many areas now have a surplus of commercial real estate due to the recent shift toward remote work, meaning it might be possible to lease a dedicated office space at a competitive rate.
You may choose to lease a small space for yourself or connect with other mental health professionals and lease a larger suite that can accommodate multiple private office suites and shared common areas. This might be a worthwhile option for more established practices that can accommodate the overhead costs of leasing office space.
- Home Office
For online therapists, a home office can provide a comfortable and convenient way to offer therapy with minimal overhead. With a strong internet connection, high-quality audio and video capabilities, and a professional background, you may find that a home office meets your needs adequately, saving the overhead costs associated with renting office space.
For those who practice online therapy, however, it is crucial to create a private, dedicated space in which to conduct sessions, where other members of your household cannot intrude or overhear conversations. Consider taking steps to soundproof your home office, such as furnishing it with acoustic panels, thick curtains, and other noise-absorbing items.
Finding Office Space
Once you have assessed your needs, established a budget, and nailed down a location and a wish list of amenities, you may begin your search for office space by engaging in the following:
- Online Search: You might opt to begin your search for office space for therapists near you by going online. There are many websites dedicated to advertising commercial real estate, including medical and business offices. You may also be able to find a co-working space appropriate for your practice, as well as listings for subleases or shared office arrangements with other mental health professionals.
- Networking: It may be worth tapping into your professional network for leads or recommendations. Check with colleagues, mentors, or other mental healthcare professionals in your area to see if they have any information or recommendations. They might also be able to offer valuable insights into different locations or types of spaces.
- Local Real Estate Agencies: If you are looking to rent your own office space rather than sublease, consider connecting with local real estate agencies specializing in commercial property. They can help you narrow your search by considering your budget, needs, and preferences. Additionally, they might be able to connect you with unlisted properties that don’t appear in an online search.
Budget And Financial Planning
While rent may account for the bulk of your overhead, it can also be crucial to be aware of the other potential costs associated with renting office space. These could include:
- Utilities: If renting your own property, you may need to account for the cost of utilities like electricity, water, and internet. In older buildings not equipped with modern building systems, these costs could be higher.
- Furnishing: You may be able to find furnished therapy offices for rent; if not, however, there could be significant upfront costs associated with moving into and furnishing your new space.
- Maintenance: Your office will require regular cleaning, unexpected repairs, and general maintenance. If your lease does not include these services, you may need to budget office upkeep into your operating costs.
- Internet: A high-speed internet connection is crucial for supporting online therapy sessions and conducting day-to-day business. If internet and phone connectivity are not included in your lease, you’ll need to budget for these expenses.
- Security Deposit: As you budget, be sure to account for the cost of a security deposit. Most commercial leases require one, and they can be significant.
- Insurance: When welcoming in-person clients on your property, you will likely need to invest in general liability insurance to cover you in the event that someone is injured on the property. You may also need commercial renters insurance.
- Parking: If the building doesn’t offer free parking, you might need to budget for parking spaces for yourself and potentially your clients.
- Common Area Maintenance (CAM) Fees: Some commercial leases include a fee for the upkeep of common areas like lobbies and restrooms. These fees can add up, making it vital to be aware of them.
Have You Considered Online Therapy?
Finding a new office space that works for your practice can be stressful. If you’re feeling burned out or need help sorting through your thoughts, speaking to a licensed counselor could help. Additionally, if you’re struggling to find an office space and considering becoming an online therapist instead, you can learn more by chatting with a professional through BetterHelp. A knowledgeable therapist can likely relate to your struggles and offer helpful advice and guidance. Because you chat with them from anywhere at anytime, this option may be useful for those with limited time or busy schedules.
The Efficacy Of Online Therapy
Research has shown that online therapy can be effective in addressing a range of mental health concerns. One study found that 73% of clinical psychologists regarded videoconferencing as a useful tool for therapy and 51% indicated a desire to use teletherapy in the future. Many therapists utilize cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, to treat their clients. Studies have proven the efficacy of online CBT, finding that it can manage and treat numerous mental health disorders including depression, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, personality disorders, chronic pain, and more. CBT is a type of therapeutic intervention that seeks to help individuals identify their unhelpful thoughts and shift them into more positive thinking patterns.
If you are a therapist looking to grow your practice, a comfortable, professional office space can be a refuge for both you and your clients. It can be crucial to assess your needs, budget, and wish list of features and amenities to help you narrow down which type of space might suit you. In addition to your initial web searches, consider talking to other mental health professionals for insight, as well as realtors for insider knowledge of the commercial real estate market. To learn more ways to grow your practic