New research suggests that the softness, personalization, and order of a therapist's office might affect the client's perception of the expertness, trustworthiness, and social attractiveness of the therapist. 242 college students were shown 30 digital color photographs of actual psychotherapist offices in Manhattan. The photos showed the therapist's chair and the rest of the office as viewed from where the client would sit. If an office had more personal touches such as diplomas, pillows or pictures, or if it was orderly, participants expected that they would receive better care from the therapist in that office. A "softer" feel - cushioned chairs, carpeting, table lamps, plants and throw rugs - also gave participants a higher opinion of the therapist occupying that office.
A second study found that participants thought that therapists with orderly, personalized and softer offices would be bolder and more qualified and that friendlier therapists had "softer" offices.
Nasar, J. L. and Devlin, A.S. (2011). Impressions of psychotherapists' offices. Journal of Counseling Psychology, May 23, 2011. doi: 10.1037/a0023887; 10.1037/a0023887.supp (Supplemental)
Click here for the research article in the PsycArticles database.
Click here for the Medical News Today article describing the study.