There was a time when I believed that counseling was best in a clinical setting. It required a formal office setting and needed to be very formal in every way to be “professional”.
Over the years I have found that counseling can happen anywhere. Sometimes, I have done counseling in a client’s home, at a hospital, in a park, and even over lunch! My office has moved from a very nice (albeit expensive) commercial building to an apartment that I have converted to an office space.
People (clients) were thrilled! They commented that they were more comfortable here and that they felt they could relax better. I got to pick the colors, the decor and the music. I was more relaxed and comfortable and that, in turn, affected how the people coming in felt. I was, initially, concerned that people wouldn’t take it as seriously, and what I have found is that people are doing more and being more open because they feel more comfortable.
When we see children, we play games and go to great lengths to make them feel comfortable and open up to us. Adult clients aren’t really that different. They too need to feel comfortable and safe in order to talk to us. They need to know that we care and that we get it, whatever the location.
Bottom line: It’s not the where, it’s who and the how that really matters.