An Art Therapist in Private Practice – Picking the right room…

Today I am going to talk about considering the art therapy room. While art therapists learn to be very adept and making any space work, there are some ideals to consider.

Considering the art therapy room or space…..

  1. Is there a large enough studio room?  Think about having a group or a family session.  While smaller rooms with cute furniture always look inviting and comforting, it will be difficult to do art therapy in them.
  2. Do you have room for an actual table and chairs?  Having a table or adjustable table/easel will work best.  While many art therapists can adjust to using drawing boards in smaller rooms or other spaces, they are not the most conducive to art creation beyond drawing.  Some tables are adjustable and can fold up and be put out of the way when not in use.  I have used a fold-able table that actually housed the folding chairs inside it and turned into a side table that rolled out of the way.  It opened up with enough room for 6 people and held all 6 chairs inside.  That was a great option for smaller spaces or multi-purpose spaces.
  3. Is there adequate light?  If there are not windows for natural light, is there adequate lighting installed or can you put in lights.  Art Therapists will need to consider clients with visual impairments and difficulty seeing in low light.  While low light is great in some therapy environments, it will not work when trying to do art work.  You can always adjust the lights down for meditation prior or verbal processing afterward.
  4. Is there a sink?  For many reasons, you need access to a sink where it is acceptable to clean brushes.  Questions to ask your landlord:  Can you put paint down the sink?  What about cleaning with other chemicals?  Is the sink in the room you will practice in or is it in another location?  Will you have regular access to it?  If shared with other tenants, will cleaning paint and other art materials be a problem or create a mess?
  5. Do you have storage for the variety of art materials that you will utilize?  Shelving and storage bins will be needed to keep paper on and other materials for easy access and organization.  Can you leave them there or do you need to carry in supplies every time?  These are important things to consider.  While it is best to be able to have a stocked studio where the supplies are organized and accessible, you can improvise.  Rolling cabinets that can be rolled out and stored in a hallway, or rolling suitcases that you carry in to groups can suffice as well.
  6. What about the flooring?  While carpet or hardwood floors always look great and professional, paint, playdo and glue will wreck havoc on nice flooring!  However if you can’t get tile or linoleum, you can buy linoleum as a sheet and lay over flooring you do not want to ruin.  You could also roll up and store when you are not using the room for art therapy.  White or light colored linoleum will also help brighten up a room that is too toned down with darker carpet or wall paint.

Carol Olson

Director – The Creative Arts Space


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