I choose to have my office in my home. This is a philosophical choice based on my understandings about therapy. Both of the analysts I have worked with have had their offices in their homes, so it is something I am used to. And to the extent that most of us model our way of practicing on those therapists we admire, they are a part of my choice. But more than that, I see this choice reflecting the fact that I do not see therapy as a medical treatment. I see therapy as a part of life and needing to be grounded in the ordinary stuff of daily life lest it become too rarified and too removed from day to day existence. My office space is not just another room in my house -- there are no photos of my children and no deeply revealing personal items. Access to my personal living space is closed off. But it is clear that it is located in the place where I live. Occasionally there are noises from life going on elsewhere in the house. Or the smells of food cooking. I take care to make it that my husband, the only person who shares the house with me, is not able to hear what is said in my office -- for the most part, I see patients at times when he is out doing his own work.
For you In Treatment fans, my space is personal like Paul's is -- in my home, yet not part of every day family gathering. Furniture reminiscent of what might be in a living room, yet not part of family living space. Comfortable, personal, yet observably not family space. Now my furniture is a more motley collection, but falls along the same dimensions a Paul's.
There have been times when the fact that my office is in my home raised issues for my patients, especially when my children were younger and could from time to time be heard on the stairs or elsewhere in the house I lived in then. Sometimes patents would begin to feel envious of them, or want to be one of my children Or imagine living in my house. But that became part of the material we worked with, part of the fabric of the therapy.
I have thoughts of writing a piece about how therapists shape their spaces someday and some time ago collected some data toward that. One finding that emerged is that of the two dozen therapists who completed my questionnaire, those who identified themselves as cognitive-behavioral in orientation saw ease of parking or proximity to mass transit as key elements in their choices, whereas depth oriented therapists focused on the atmosphere created by furnishings and art in the space itself -- outer vs inner space considerations. I like that.