The therapeutic space as a facilitator of change

The workplace must be organized and well structured as it is a fundamental element for learning, growth, and change. Within this structure, the architectural characteristics, furniture, decorative pieces, resources necessary for the intervention, or center location are relevant. Through these elements, the achievement of objectives is facilitated or hindered and the involvement of individuals in the development of therapy.

The presence of fireplaces, sofas, plants and other similar offices promotes home memory and generates a greater sense of familiarity in the patient. In addition, there are other characteristics of spaces capable of generating various sensations in patients without their being aware of it. These elements are color, ionic and electrical charge present in the environment, temperature, light, etc.

In this way, it is recommended that the therapeutic space meets the following characteristics:

  • Light and cold colors. The predominance of light and cold tones (white, gray, blue) generates a greater sense of tranquility, relaxation, and rest.
  • Few electrical or plastic elements. The presence of this type of element increases the level of positively charged ions, capable of generating harmful effects on the health and mood of people, even producing a depressive impact on the human psyche.
  • Presence of natural light. In addition to the benefits of this type of lighting for physical and psychological health (less feeling of fatigue, better concentration, higher performance), electric light also promotes the appearance of these positive ions.
  • Adaptedtemperature. The most advisable thing is that the room tends to be excellent. Excessive heat facilitates irritability, but extreme cold generates discomfort. Consequently, the suitability of having an air-conditioned space that allows temperature regulation is highlighted.
  • Relaxing scents. Different investigations and publications corroborate the influence of different aromas on people’s moods. Likewise, it has been seen that mint or cinnamon fragrances can generate a feeling of relaxation and warmth. On the other hand, the journal Science underlines the importance of perceiving a familiar smell in the individual. It is recommended to maintain the same aroma in the workspace, thus favoring the association between said space and, in this case, the therapy.
  • Music. For years, the theory of the influence of music on brain chemistry has been supported. This line has been possible to verify the dopamine release (a hormone linked to pleasure) when listening to different tunes. More specifically, concerning the potential effects of classical music, various developments have been contrasted, such as reducing anxiety and pain, improving performance, and increasing sleep quality.

In addition to the adequacy of this list of factors, familiarity, built from the repeated use of these or other elements, is essential due to its ability to influence the patient’s perception and responses directly. Together, the presence of these elements makes it possible to create a more comfortable climate, promoting communication, change, and the therapist-patient bond.

Another relevant element that influences the patient’s behavior and interest in continuing the therapy is the expectations, conscious or unconscious, generated by the assistant himself. These expectations are developed through interaction with the therapist and all those elements present in the consultation. In this way, causing a space that can favor the development of positive expectations in patients can increase their motivation with the intervention.

Limitations of remote therapy

At present, there has been a notable increase in the number of interventions carried out using new technologies. Although this treatment alternative has some advantages (more excellent coverage and access), some authors have pointed out certain disadvantages, such as loss of non-verbal communication. Decreased spontaneity in the therapeutic relationship, difficulties in evaluation through written means, or limitations in training strategies or techniques. Likewise, the loss of the influence of the elements that make up the work environment is highlighted.

In this same line, various authors confirm the relevance of face-to-face therapy for its proper development. Face-to-face work facilitates the constitution of a new therapist-patient bond that contributes to creating a “safe space” capable of reducing the state of alarm and defenses of the consultant, an essential aspect for therapeutic success.

Likewise, many psychology professionals believe that online therapy replaces face-to-face treatment but should be considered an additional resource. This situation is especially relevant in those more serious problems that require direct intervention and where the clinical context becomes an indispensable element.

By Cary Grant

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