So you've DONE it! You've taken the step to become a Speech Teletherapist. You quickly realize that one of the most amazing benefits of working from home is...creating your very OWN space from which to earn a living. That means you can create a comfortable, relaxing environment, complete with personal touches, the perfect temperature and YES...LIGHT! Once I realized that I was able to create a work space MY WAY, I was almost overjoyed with tears. After spending 18 years in an office without a window, unpredictable temperatures and broken fixtures, I was giddy with excitement.
So, where to begin? I will admit...my second love in this life is Interior Design. Joanna Gaines is my spirit animal, and if I ever got to meet her, I might fall over speechless. Most of my paycheck goes right to Hobby Lobby or HomeGoods, and I refinish furniture as a hobby. Home Office? I GOT THIS ladies.
But what important features did I need to include, so that I could maximize my success as a therapist? I have broken down the essentials for the perfect Home Office, so you can easily create an efficient (and beautiful) space of your own.
1) You need a CONSISTENT, QUIET and PRIVATE space. Your space for speech teletherapy should be consistently quiet, free from noise and other people. While this isn't always easy, you really want to create a space that is a perfect conductor for sound transmission. Your client needs to be able to hear you clearly. It's important to be set away from distractions (children, pets, television, etc.), and sit where the background noise is minimal. I wouldn't suggest putting your desk near your furnace or air conditioner, for example. You also need to consider confidentiality. Your roommate or husband shouldn't be able to watch or listen to your session, as your client deserves privacy during treatment. It's also important to keep your space consistent so your client knows what to expect each time he/he logs in. Especially if that client is younger and easily distracted by shiny new toys!
2. Keep your space organized and clutter free. Now that you are a speech teletherapist, you will find the amount of "paper clutter" you compile is significantly reduced. This is a HUGE benefit of delivering online services. However, it's still important to have a clean, easy and efficient organizational system in place. There are items you might want to have in reach (calculator, pens, notepads, daily schedule, flashdrives, etc.), but make sure that every item "has a space". I personally LOVE metal tins, old wooden boxes and jars for holding my little items I wish to keep out of sight (Joanna, remember?). I even use a recipe stand and a vintage looking paperclip to hold my to-do list for the day. Whatever your style, make sure each day, before shutting down, you clean up the mess. You certainly don't want your professional clients to see your soda can from the day before, or a stack of messy papers sitting behind you. Your carpet might be freshly vacuumed, but they don't see THAT, remember?
3. Let there be LIGHT! Lighting is extremely important when you become a speech teletherapist. You will quickly find that it's easy to establish a nice rapport with your clients, IF they can actually SEE your face. With this being said, make sure you have sufficient light for effective therapy. Personally, I prefer to have an adjustable desk lamp that is FRONT of my computer screen. I use a full spectrum bulb (I used to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder), and shine the lamp directly at my face, from behind my computer screen. I can adjust this lamp as the sun moves around the room, to ensure the best lighting on my face. It also helps to have natural light from windows. Try to choose a room that has windows if you are able. There's nothing like natural light to put you in your "happy place". Regardless of your light source, make sure there is enough. A dark room is not welcoming of a communicative exchange.
4. Add personal touches for yourself and your client. As I said, I love to decorate. I would redecorate my house every year if my husband let me. When I fall in love with a piece, whether it's a picture, a small plant, or a unique pillow, I will find a place for it. Your clients want to know YOU. They will see you often enough to consider you a friend, a confidant, or even, a distant family member. Add pieces to your space that make you, YOU. Include photos of loved ones or artwork that represents your style. Hang a simple piece of fabric with a bright, inviting design in your background. Consider placing an inspiration quote in your bookshelf to foster a growth mindset with your clients. Change it monthly! I even purchased a salt lamp to reduce the electromagnetic energy from the electronic usage. My students always ask to see it! Whatever makes you happy, share it. Just keep it professional. Even though you love Keith Urban, your clients don't need to see his life-sized poster in your background. And please keep Hello Kitty in your daughter's room.
5. You MUST have a comfortable chair. Friends, I made a giant mistake when I started this adventure. Joanna Gaines whispered that I simply MUST purchase this cow-print swivel office chair from Wayfair. I caved. I had to have it. It was plush and furry and....oooooo, SO NOT comfortable after day 3. I spent a painful amount of money on that chair. And now, I am stuck with it. Do NOT make the mistake I made. Invest in a good, adjustable chair that allows you to sit pain-free for several hours. Do not buy one off the internet (lesson learned). GO to the store and sit it one before you purchase it. I promise you it will be an investment that you will not regret. If you are 25, you might be able to sit in a kitchen chair for 5+ hours a day. I. Can. Not. Furnish your space with the best chair you can find for your budget.
Having a perfect space for this new adventure will make you happy and full of joy! Think about how you will be sipping coffee while it snows, turning up the heat as high as you want, and opening the windows to hear the birds sing in spring. All while teaching categories and reducing a stutter. It's glorious my friends! You will never regret being your own SLP girl boss, and having a space to call your own. Go make it beautiful! Joanna will be proud.
Want know more about telepractice? Click HERE!
Want to learn how I use NO PRINT and NO PREP products on my teletherapy platform and iPad? Click HERE!
Do you need inspiration for your perfect home office? Click HERE!