There was a time when fostering an optimally healing environment—or therapeutic milieu—was considered a critical component of patient care, particularly on inpatient psychiatric units. The idea was to create a treatment atmosphere that was structured and supportive, and that encouraged patients to behave in ways that fostered improved mental and physical health.
A key aspect of creating such a milieu was taking care of the staff. For example, staff had to meet frequently to ensure shared understanding of the patients, coordination on treatment goals, recognition of emergent group and community dynamics, and support of each other in facing the challenging symptoms and behaviors inpatients often present.
Unfortunately, given increased medicalization and emphasis on shorter lengths of stay, the therapeutic environment on inpatient units does not receive the attention it once did. Still, it remains a guiding principle for many in the mental health field, as well as in allied professions (nursing, nutrition and others come to mind).
A question we have at Wellspring is: Can a therapeutic milieu model also apply to private practice? In other words, can a suite of offices filled with totally independent practitioners nevertheless be designed in ways that continuously promotes a supportive, healing environment for both patients and practitioners? We think it can, and here are some of the things we try to do every day to cultivate such an environment:
From the beautiful locations we choose for our Practice Centers, to the professionally designed waiting rooms, to structurally soundproofed offices with individual environmental controls, we provide superior comfort and quality in the suite environment itself.
Unlike most mental health office suites, at Wellspring we provide professional service staff across the board. So you can count on the caliber of cleaning, administrative and other support services typically enjoyed by corporate professionals, but in the context of a peaceful therapeutic environment.
COMMUNICATION AND SUPPORT
You can reach out to our support staff any time, day or night, and expect a response within 24 hours. Furthermore, at Wellspring, we want to hear from you: we’ve designed our Practice Centers based on your input, and we’re always open to your ideas and suggestions. We want to work together to promote an optimally healing environment for your clients.
LEVERAGING COMMUNITY RESOURCES
At Wellspring, we believe in fostering a sense of community that’s often missing in private practice, so we offer many opportunities for interaction and collaboration. Our Online Practice Portal makes it easy to shoot a colleague a quick message, ask a question, or find out when they’ll be free to chat. Our Practitioner Profiles help you know who your neighbors are, and help us to introduce new colleagues when they join the suite. Our Community Spaces allow clinicians to get together and chat, or have group meetings, conferences, holiday get-togethers, or even educational seminars.
Here is a great article on Inc.com written by Shelley Prevost, Co-founder and CEO of Torch, 25 Revealing Questions That Build Better Work Relationships. She includes a list of questions that you can ask people you work with in order to get to know them better. Building relationships with the people we spend most of our waking hours with is something we really want to promote at Wellspring.
Clinicians in private practice don’t often have the chance to interact the way we did when we were part of a larger treatment team, but that doesn’t mean we have to live our professional lives in isolation. Wellspring believes in creating a comfortable, professional and supportive office environment and community, and we believe this environment helps you do your best work. Consistent with a therapeutic milieu model, an environment that supports us as clinicians also promotes healing for our patients.
For tips on creating an environment that heals, take a look at this article, What Can I Do to Create a Healing Environment on Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing by Mary Jo Kreutzer, RN, PhD.
And for additional information and reading on how we interact with our surroundings, take a look at this Wikipedia.org article on behavior settings here.