According to a new study, people judge the quality of their therapists by the appearance of their office. Jack Nasar, professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University, and co-author of the study, said, “People seem to agree on what the office of a good therapist would look like and, especially, what it wouldn’t look like. Whether it is through cultural learning or something else, people think they can judge therapists just based on their environment.” The participants were asked to rate a therapist’s ability and their own comfort level based on a photograph of the therapist’s office.
The results showed that the participants felt more at ease in an office that was deemed neat and orderly, and was decorated with softer, more personal touches, such as pictures, diplomas, rugs and pillows. Additionally, the test subjects reported that the therapists who worked in these offices were most likely friendlier and more qualified to administer care. The participants were also asked what feeling came to mind when they viewed the photos, and if they would choose to see that particular therapist based on their office. “The top-rated offices also pointed to the importance of softness and order,” said Nasar. “For the top five offices, participants most frequently described the office as comfortable, nice, clean, warm and inviting.”
The participants believed the quality of care received from these therapists would be better than those with disorganized and cluttered offices. Regardless of these types of judgments, the researchers say that therapists should take this seriously. “These results suggest that someone visiting a therapist in a low-rated office for the first time may not want to come back,” said Nasar. He adds, “I would tell therapists to keep their offices soft and friendly looking. Put up your diplomas and personalize the office. Arrange everything in a neat and orderly way and keep it that way.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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