I began working as a clinical psychologist two decades ago. I was fortunate to work in varied settings such as a psychiatric hospital, therapeutic boarding homes for abused children, public clinics and my own private practice.
I’ve learnt a lot from my clients, my supervisees, the groups I ran and the lectures I gave. But what I didn’t realise back then, is how much I’ve learnt about therapy-spaces. When I started searching for a room for my own practice in Auckland, there weren’t many options out there. Some spaces were lovely but required a financial commitment I could not yet afford, some were more office-like, others seemed random and not very welcoming. It took me a while to find a space that answered my basic needs and did not require the financial commitment I wasn’t yet able to make. I felt I made a good compromise, and I started seeing clients. However, each time I entered the room, viewing it through my client’s eyes, I knew that it was far from what I needed. As fortunate as I was finding that arrangement, I realised that I was working despite the space rather than being supported by it.
Luckily, everything seemed to go well with my first clients so I decided to take a leap of faith and rent a place of my own, even though I was not able to fully cover the rental costs. I was driven to take this leap by my belief, based on years of experience, that a therapist's space is an inseparable part of their professional tools; it directly impacts the quality of our work, and therefore directly impacts the service we give to our clients.
So I made the room my own. I hammered down the floors, sewed the curtains, built the furniture, and put into it my heart, soul and 20 years of learning about the unique atmosphere I believe a therapy room should offer. I’m positive that inviting my clients into a warm and protective space, one that both they and I feel safe to explore their inner world, discover and grow together, kept the referrals coming. Their faces confirmed what I already knew – the right colours, fabrics, set-up and other fine details come together in a magical way that I call ‘a therapy-facilitating environment’.
After I got my room ready, I was offered the opportunity to join a well-established clinic. I started to expand my work in that clinic so I was using my own room less and less. I realised that instead of sitting empty, my room might serve others on the same journey as I took. I advertised the room and the response was overwhelming. It seemed that it offered something different that therapists were looking for, teaching me that the search for the right space was not unique to me. It was clear that therapists’ need for an affordable therapy-facilitating space on an hourly basis was commonplace.
This was the right soil on which PractiSpace could sprout. Along with my husband’s broad vision, we began building a therapist-friendly model. Its heart is the purpose-built room: a therapy-facilitating environment, with an hourly rate, no minimum number of weekly hours, no-prepayment before an actual income exists and various locations so a therapist can expand their geographical radius. We felt excited by the opportunity to free the therapist from space-related concerns, so he or she could focus on what they do best – their therapy.
Right as we were getting our business plan together, the room next to mine became available so we rented it, renovated it and began to let therapists know the two rooms were available. There was demand right away, which give us confidence in our concept. With the emerging community, we’re excited about future opportunities. PractiSpace allows me to share with others what I wished for myself - a space they can call their own; a space that brings the best therapist out of them; a space that provides them with the backwind to sail through their professional journey.