Two weeks ago I put the finishing touches to my counselling practice room in Totnes. It is the former kitchen in a handsome 18th century townhouse – what more suitable place to conduct therapy than in the former hearth of the house? The window looks out onto a pretty courtyard. Clients have a prime view of the Japanese maple in the foreground, with a backdrop of honeysuckle and beyond that a verdant wall covered with, currently, blazing Virginia creeper.
Situated on South Street it is the former cottage to Birdwood House on Totnes High Street. It’s a stone’s throw from the principal parking lot in the town. Although the courtyard backs on Totnes’ Market Square, with its accompanying market day bustle, the room holds a tranquil atmosphere. You’d barely know the market was there.
Decorating it was an interesting process. Initially I wanted to reflect the warmth of the hearth and chose some bolder red fabric. It was too intense so I focused on calming, natural tones. The furniture is comfortable and functional with elements of simple beauty. The desk for example is a rustic pine with some simple carved embellishments. The rug is an ethical marvel constructed exclusively from recycled plastic, which nonetheless feels soft and warm. Then there are the personal touches such as the curtains, handmade by my sister; the wreath of intention from my recent eco-psychology course.
I had trouble deciding what to put on the walls. There is a local printmaker named Linda Hill whose art strikingly explores feminine archetypes. Her images capture some of the struggle to reclaim ourselves, negotiate pain and achieve balance that deep personal enquiry and therapy often entail. Influenced by Jungian perspectives her symbology and depth seemed to me the perfect accompaniment for the therapeutic journey. Once, however, I got the pieces up on the wall I had to admit to myself (with some encouragement from others!) that some of the images might be too explicit or confronting for some clients. Despite the fact that some people would draw deep inspiration from them I relented and have chosen more universally appealing pictures that offer a quality of gentle harmony to clients and personal meaning to sustain me as a practitioner. I’ve kept the tamer archetypal prints and peppered the rest throughout the house.
Having my own books and counselling materials to hand feels luxurious after hiring practice rooms up until this moment. I have really enjoyed the experience of working at The Nautilus Rooms, near the bottom of Totnes High Street and enjoyed the community aspect of interacting with other therapists. And I still see clients in Exeter at the dependeable Practice Rooms. But This feels different. I can really settle into the room, my own natural rhythm and bring more of myself to the experience as a result.
This will, I hope, be a hearth and a haven to many people in the coming years. I feel very grateful to have such a place from which to offer my care, attention and skill as an Integrative counsellor specialising in addiction therapy, eating disorder treatment and emotional wellbeing.