When I first decided to pivot the focus of my private practice from working with children and families to working with women experiencing difficulties or stress associated with conceiving, pregnancy, and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders I *knew* that I wanted to create a space that felt comfortable, welcoming, and met the needs of my clients. The first thing I decided was to make a therapy space where women didn’t have to worry about visiting–a space where babies and families are welcome, but also where small conveniences are present to make accessing therapy easier.
One of the biggest barriers for new mothers seeking treatment is childcare. I myself have experienced this–the need to make an appointment or go somewhere and the underlying dread of having to find a sitter (a precious, precious resource), as well as be able to afford that sitter in the first place. Or–gasp–having to bring your child with you. Have you taken a little to a personal appointment? Personal appointment can easily become personal hell as you spend more time wrangling them from touching things they shouldn’t or soothing a crying child who doesn’t want to be there.
Let’s be honest, childcare in Seattle is not cheap, and for some it’s just not a realistic cost. Some new mothers aren’t able to leave babies for long enough periods of time to drive to a therapy session, spend 50 minutes in therapy, and then drive home. Perhaps the baby is exclusively breastfed, won’t take a bottle, or the mother simply doesn’t want to be away from her baby for that length of time yet. What is she to do if she wants to access services?
While many therapists allow new mothers to bring babies to session, the office space simply is not comfortable. When I was pregnant with my first child my therapist at the time offered for me to bring the baby with me after he was born. I looked around at the space in the room and just knew that wouldn’t work for me. It was well intentioned and a thoughtful offer, but it felt like more of a stress to bring him and not have anywhere to put him except his stroller or car seat, both of which took up quite a bit of space in the small office.
So when it came time to plan my own office set up I knew I wanted to create a space where babies are welcome without second thought. I have set my office up with two separate and distinct spaces: a “welcome room” where mamas can find a swing, bouncer, play mat, toys, boppy pillow, changing table, and other baby gear to lend comfort to little ones, including a sound machine for sleeping babes. A rock and play and baby seat are also available so mamas can bring babies into the therapy room with them. Two sliding doors separate the welcome room from the therapy room, and the doors can be open or closed for the session. The therapy room is set up as a more traditional therapy space with chairs and a couch and while baby gear can be brought room to room, this space is intended to give quiet, peace, and comfort to mamas, mamas-to-be, or hoping-to-be-mamas while we conduct the therapy session. The therapy space is set up to welcome babies, but is meant to take care of mamas whether or not babies are in attendance. Coffee, tea, water, and small snacks are offered as well, because this is a time for self-care–emotional and physical. Can’t we all relate to being so busy that sitting down and hydrating has been something totally neglected in a day?
My intention is to take away as many barriers as I can for those seeking therapy. For the mamas who can and wish to come without babies–this space is for you. For the mamas who cannot come without babies–this space is for you. For the women and families with no babies–this space is for you. My primary concern with this practice was creating a space where everyone is welcome, comfortable, and able to get treatment. Not able to make it to the office? I offer online therapy sessions. Schedule during your baby’s nap, or in the comfort of your own home. Can’t drive a long distance? Hate Seattle traffic (um, hello home office)? Just log on.
Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are treatable, and there should be nothing stopping you from getting that treatment.
Wishing you wellness!