I got a new client’s chair today for my therapy room. The local council is having verge side throw out and so I seized the moment and got a new chair. The old one had done its fair share of miles and was creaking and crackling when people moved in it. So now there is a brand new chair there.
To get the new chair I took my life into my own hands and ventured down to Ikea on a Saturday afternoon!! The equivalent of climbing Mt Everest in danger and torment! But I survived.
Upon entering the chair section of Ikea one sees literally hundreds of chairs to choose from. So which one do I choose? I started sitting in chairs and ended up giving a lot of them a test run.
When I sat in a chair I would think, “Oh no, that’s not right.” But then I started to think, “Well why is that not right?” and I didn’t have an answer. I new it was not what I wanted for the client but I didn’t know why. After a time I began to verbalise why they were not right. I discovered I knew all this stuff that I did not know I knew, about what client’s chairs mean.
When a client sits in the chair they get a set of transactions from the therapist about how they view the therapeutic process and what it means to them.
Some chairs were so soft, when you sit in them you needed a snorkel and an aqua lung to breath. They kind of suck you in like a sea anemone.
Some client chairs, and therapist chairs for that matter, that are like a big cushion that you fall into. I knew straight away I didn’t want that. I thought,
Therapy is not an escape from the world.
The world exists out there and is not going away.
When the client leaves they have to go back out into it
Therapy as a sanctuary from the world to my mind is not a productive approach.
Sometimes therapy can become rent a Parent or rent a friend. Whilst that may be very appealing to the Free Child of some clients, again to my mind it is not productive in the long run. Whilst I would obviously not get a chair like this teddy bear one the ulterior transaction that it is sending must not be sent by the client’s chair. It represents magical thinking. “The therapy room is where I can redo my childhood.” Whilst that maybe very appealing for some clients it cannot be done. You can’t redo your childhood when you are an adult. Yes in a therapist’s room people can regress into their Child ego state but that lasts for 1 hour then you have to go back out into the big world again. When you are 6 years old you don’t have to do that. A chair must not communicate this type of magical thinking to the client.
Then there is the chair that makes a statement. I must say they do appeal me
But alas it cannot be. I have always said that a therapist’s room must be a bit beige, no high fashion and no dramatic statements. A therapy room is not a place for a therapist to express their personality in that way. To my mind that makes it too, much about “Me!” (the therapist).
Then there is the purely business like chair. Not my style but some therapies do use this approach
I finally ended up with a chair that is certainly comfortable thus enticing the Free Child out in the client but in the back of the chair there is clear support for the back that keeps the person sitting up right to some extent. They are not rigidly sitting up but a straightness to the back is maintained.
So whist there is comfort there is still the transaction, “There is business to be done here. There are goals that we are seeking to achieve and we cannot forget that. And come out and join us Free Child in a comfortable chair.”