Client and therapist perspectives on the importance of the physical environment of the therapy room: A mixed methods study

Date
2008-12
Authors
Backhaus, Kelly Lynn
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Abstract

The present study sought to explore both client and therapist perspectives on the importance of the physical environment of the therapy room. More specifically, the researcher sought to uncover the level of importance that clients and therapists place on accessories, color, room design, furnishings, lighting, temperature and sound. Additionally, this study examined the relationship between client retention and the physical environment of the therapy room.

The total sample was comprised of 226 participants, 73 therapists and 153 clients. Therapists' ages ranged from 24-65, with an average of 45 years of age. Clients ranged in age from 18-69, with an average of 31 years of age. All participants were asked to complete an online survey consisting of a demographic questionnaire, 4-8 open-ended interview questions, and a Physical Environment Attributes Scale. Clients were also asked to complete a 12-item Counselor Rating Form, Short Version in order to determine if their perceptions of the therapist were associated with the overall environment of the therapy room.

Results from the qualitative analysis revealed that the physical environment of the therapy room is associated with a clients overall level of comfort. The qualitative results also suggested that the physical environment has a significant impact upon the ability of the client and therapist to establish a therapeutic relationship. Findings from the quantitative data analysis revealed that accessories and color were rated as the least important attributes and that sound was rated as the most important attribute. In addition, room design was rated as more important than furnishings and lighting. Amongst therapists, lighting was rated more important than both accessories and furnishings; however, clients rated furnishings as more important than lighting and accessories.

Furthermore, the findings also revealed that lighting is significantly correlated with the clients' perception of the therapist's perceived attractiveness, expertness, and trustworthiness. The results indicated that as clients ratings on the overall importance of lighting increased, so did their perceptions of the overall attractiveness, expertness, and trustworthiness of the therapist.

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Keywords
Social sciences, Psychology, Client retention, Clients, Counseling environment, Environment, Therapy room, Therapists
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