The effect of physical space on emotional regulation

A year ago, Spring OT expanded our clinic. New staff, new programming and continued client growth have made up a large part of the expansion process. But, one of the biggest and most important decisions was finding our physical space. I knew the right space would have a massive impact on the emotional regulation of children and families.

Storytelling at summer Camp

Expanding the space for emotional regulation

When I set out to deliver OT services in a private setting, back in 2013, my first real goal was to find a few clients, build a collection of materials, and use best practices and my enthusiasm, to keep kids (and parents!) happy and returning. Within the first seven months, I had achieved that and more; enough to leave my stable, full-time, benefits paying job and go full time into private practice. It was exciting!

I was lucky enough to be renting a small office in a facility that housed other like-minded therapists – two SLPs, two psychologists and another OT. Working beside these lovely therapists, the company grew, along with my confidence, until the lease on our building came up. It was time to leave my safe haven.

With the good will of my old cohort, who chose to find small offices together, I decided to expand and create a free standing OT clinic, complete with multiple treatment spaces, including a messy play space and a large sensory gym. I had a vision – and finding courage to overcome the fear – decided to execute it. I spent the better part of the spring of 2016 searching for a new work space. Too corporate, too medical, too impersonal, too small, too dark – I knew that the physical environment of the clinic was key in helping me define the vision of Spring OT. It would provide the cornerstone for the happiness and mental well being of me, my team and my clients.

Kids Playing with Toys

Bringing the natural environment indoors for calm

And then I found it. Accidentally, and fortuitously, as I was out for brunch on a break from my single minded pursuit of finding a work space – much in that same way you find your best friend or your forever partner.

Spring OT is located in the historic and quirky Bridgeland community, in Calgary, Alberta – in an old character home. The clinic has hardwood floors and beams, lots of natural light, high ceilings, communal gathering spaces in our waiting room and kitchen, private treatment spaces, gorgeous outdoor gardens and plants abound. Using mostly natural fabrics, wood and muted colours, and filling the space with books and art all contribute to bringing the natural world indoors, to further promote the emotional regulation of everyone who walks in the door.

It is beautiful. The first client to visit the new space, after transitioning from the old, teared up and proclaimed “I feel so calm here.” Another client adds, “It feels like home.”

We all have found our new safe haven. Come join us.