How can Feng Shui help you arrange your office for comfort and ease? In Feng Shui principles, why should both the therapist and the client share “command of the room”? What can you do to get the flow going?
In this podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon speaks about how to incorporate Feng Shui in your therapy office with Marina Umali.
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Meet Marina Umali
Marina Umali is a certified Interior Designer & Feng Shui practitioner with a highly innovative approach. Like other interior designers, she focuses on the aesthetics and functionality of a space, but her approach also includes a common-sense application of universal Feng Shui principles, which promote harmony and balanced energy throughout a space.
Her practice is also affiliated with a number of environmental and sustainability groups, including the Vegan Design Council and The International Well Being Institute.
FREEBIE: Check out Marina’s Feng Shui Tips for Success & Feng Shui Bagua Map
In This Podcast
- What is Feng Shui?
- Feng Shui in therapy offices
- Share command of the room
- Bring nature in
- Move 27 items
What is Feng Shui?
[Feng Shui] is a philosophy … that’s thousands of years old and originated in China … It is the art of placement … It’s really about arranging furniture so that it’s advantageous to us, to make our lives better. It’s about having good energy in a space, good flow, for us to feel good in our spaces. (Marina Umali)
Feng Shui is the specific arrangement of furniture in the room to create a positive flow of energy. Essentially, creating a space that “feels” good to be in.
It arranges furniture in a way that makes sense intuitively, and when it is done right, people can feel a noticeable difference in the “flow” or energy of the room once they enter it.
Feng Shui in therapy offices
It is especially important in therapy offices for clients to feel comfortable and at ease while they are present within their surroundings.
Having a good flow and furniture arrangement would be good so that people are not knocking into things, can come in and comfortably sit down. (Marina Umali)
Some basic Feng Shui tips:
- Do not have clients sit with their back to the door.
- Avoid having extra and unnecessary pieces of furniture. Too many “things” in a room can make people feel crowded or uneasy.
- Make sure things are organized and clutter-free.
- Use soothing and cool or gentle warm colors. Avoid bold or busy colors in excess.
Share command of the room
The main principle is … command position … which can be tricky because do we want the patient and client to have the command position, or do we want the therapist to have the command position? (Marina Umali)
The command position is an important principle in Feng Shui. It is the seat of power or energy flow in the room from person to person, and it is positioned in a place where someone has a good view of the door.
In therapy rooms, ideally both the client and therapist should be in command positions because the therapist is in control of the session while the client leads the session. Both the therapist and the client should be able to see the door.
Bring nature in
Wherever possible, use real plants. They give off clean air and provide gentle energy to the room. It has been proven that the presence of plants can lower stress levels in people.
If you use plastic or fake plants, be sure to keep them clean. Dusty or dirty-looking fake plants can make it seem as if the office is not being well taken care of, that the air quality is bad, or the cleaning is irregular.
Make sure your windows are clean, if you have windows, so that they can show the nature outside.
Consider having art on the walls that relate to nature: mountains, oceans, and landscapes. Make sure that the art displays are rightened on the wall and free of dust or fingerprints.
Move 27 items
If you are interested in giving Feng Shui a try, move 27 items around your office! That could be to a new spot, to be thrown out, or be rearranged.
Try to move 27 items to new places to shift the energy and make a change in your environment.
Useful links mentioned in this episode:
- Use promo code ‘JOE’ to get three free months to try out TherapyNotes, no strings attached
- For inspired office-space design and great interior ideas try Therasuite!
- Visit The Marina V Design Studio Website
- Connect with Marina on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn
Check out these additional resources:
- Eleni Domanos on How to Furnish an Office with Wellness in Mind | GP 105
- Group Practice Launch
- Group Practice Boss: www.practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticeboss $149 a month
- Email Alison: email@example.com
- PoP Group Practice Owners Facebook Group
- Free resources to help you start, grow, and scale
- Work with us
- Consult With Alison
- Alison Pidgeon on Therapy for Your Money Podcast
- Practice of the Practice Network
Meet Alison Pidgeon, Group Practice Owner
Alison Pidgeon, LPC is the owner of Move Forward Counseling, a group practice in Lancaster, PA and she runs a virtual assistant company, Move Forward Virtual Assistants.
Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016. She has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.
Transformation From A Private Practice To Group Practice
In addition, she is a private practice consultant for Practice of the Practice. Allison’s private practice ‘grew up.’ What started out as a solo private practice in early 2015 quickly grew into a group practice and has been expanding ever since.
Thanks For Listening!
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Hi, I’m Alison Pidgeon your host. I first want to say I’m a little under the weather, so my voice sounds a little different today, but we got this episode recorded. That is the important part. This is our last episode in our series, all about interior design in office spaces to celebrate the launch of my new website called TheraSuite where you can find boards and interior designers that can help you decorate in furnish your therapy office.
Today I am interviewing Marina Umali. She’s a certified interior designer and Feng Shui practitioner in New York and New Jersey. She focuses on the aesthetics and functionality of a space but her approach also includes a common sense application of universal Feng Shui principles, which promote harmony and balanced energy throughout a space. So if you’ve heard of Feng Shui and you’re curious to learn more, Marina explains to us what it means, how to incorporate some of the basic principles and tips into a therapy space. So I hope you enjoy this is podcast interview with Marina. Hi Marina, welcome to the podcast.
[MARINA UMALI] Hi, thanks so much for having me.
[ALISON] It’s great to talk with you today. Before we get started, can you introduce yourself and your business?
[MARINA] Sure. My name is Marina Umali and I own Marina V Design Studio. I am located in New York in Jersey area. I guess that’s pretty much it.
[ALISON] Do you specialize in commercial or residential or do you do both?
[MARINA] Okay, yes, I do both. So I’m an interior designer first and foremost, but I started incorporating Feng Shui principles in my designs about 10 years ago. I’m also a Feng Shui practitioner that I see clients just for that but I just started integrating it into my design, so I can’t really, it’s hard to separate the two now. But yes, I do have clients that I see for commercial and residential for interior design projects and I do visit clients in person and virtually as well for Feng Shui consultations.
[ALISON] That’s actually the reason that I wanted to have you on the podcast because that is a really cool niche to have as an interior designer. I was hoping that you could maybe just give us an overview of what is Feng Shui, if somebody doesn’t know at all what it is. How would you describe it?
[MARINA] It’s a philosophy that originated it’s thousands of years old. It originated in China. It’s often called an art and science. It’s basically an art of placement. I’m sure some people have heard of it being called that. It’s really about arranging of furniture so that it’s advantageous to us to make our lives better. It’s about having good energy in a space, good flow, just for us feel good in our spaces.
[ALISON] Obviously with our audience who tends to be mostly therapy, practice owners, they’re designing their office spaces and they’re wanting to make sure it’s professional, looks calming and as comfortable for the clients. Is there anything, part of Feng Shui that you would recommend that would maybe be an easy thing that they could incorporate?
[MARINA] Yes, I think it’s so important, especially for a therapist for an office that does therapy work for a client to feel comfortable and at ease. Definitely, I mean, there’s lots. I think definitely having good flow and good furniture arrangement would be good so that people are not knocking into things and can come in and comfortably sit down and just feel good. Maybe if they don’t have a door behind them, that would be ideal so they don’t feel like always like an edge waiting for somebody to just open the door and interrupt or just surprise them. So I think furniture arrangement is important and just not to have too many extra pieces and too many extra things.
Again, clutter is a big deal, I think, in an office like that and in a lot of places. Making sure there’s just, everything’s organized and clutter free because then I think a patient will be looking around at noticing all the mess. So I think the less the better. I think that’s primarily the most important, but I think colors also, that’s something to look at as well. It has to be soothing. Well, colors, nothing that’s just too bold or too busy. I think that would be nice. But again, you have to be careful so that it’s not too dull or depressing, but something just like soothing and comfortable.
[ALISON] What would you recommend in terms of colors if somebody was decorating a therapy office?
[MARINA] I mean, it’s hard to say, because again, I was going to say blues or greens, but the thing is, there’s so many. I say call it professional because you could go really wrong with the colors. Or you can try a few on the wall yourself because you just, by me saying like a light blue, it could be so many. You could be like a baby blue. That’s good for like a nursery and it just could go so wrong. But I think just more muted colors, definitely, I wouldn’t do like a bright orange or like a loud red, or even like a yellow, nothing. That’s just going to really excite people too much. it has to be something that’s comforting.
[ALISON] Yes, absolutely. That’s consistent with what I’ve heard too, especially with healthcare design and using blues and greens is always recommended. Do you have any tips for maybe how to incorporate some of the principles of Feng Shui into a room, or maybe you could even just start out by telling us what are the main principles of it?
[MARINA] The main principle is definitely a command position, but in this situation it’s tricky because do we want the patient, the client to have command position, or do we want the therapist to have a command position? I was thinking about this and I think ideally it would be great for both to have a command position in my opinion, because you want therapists to feel also in control of the session and in command. But you also want the patient to feel comfortable and again, not have the door behind them. In an ideal situation you could make that work. Not all the rooms will allow for them. So in an ideal situation, if it’s possible to lay out the furniture in such a way that they’re both having a view of the door, that would be ideal.
[ALISON] Okay. What do you mean by command position?
[MARINA] Command position is seeing the door. Not being directly in front of it. Sorry, I always assume like, yes, it’s just, it’s already a habit that everybody, you assume everybody knows the command position. It’s really just being in command of the room, being able to see who’s coming in, who’s going, so not being surprised; just seeing the door.
[ALISON] Okay. Interesting. I think, especially with therapy, it’s so interesting, the thought behind, how do you place the chairs in the room or the couch in the chair. I know some therapists who feel like if you put a coffee table in between you and the client, it feels like a barrier or like people aren’t going to be as open or something like that. I end up putting a coffee table in a lot of our rooms just because it’s nice to have to hold tissues and cups and that thing, but just curious what your philosophy is on things like that.
[MARINA] That’s interesting. I think it’s okay to have one. I think it’s a matter of the scale of it and depending on the material of it. So I think that’s where Feng Shui comes in. Also, if it’s like very sharp edges, you don’t want somebody sitting there and just feeling not comfortable or they stand up and if somebody’s clumsy, like I am. They’re going to hit it. But again, I think it’s depends, it has to be the right height. That’s where a professional, it’s your designer can come in handy to get the scale, meaning the size of it. You don’t want like a really awkward, large coffee table at a small seating area. So I think it really matters what material it’s made out of, if it’s wood, if it’s glass, if it’s really sharp cornered. So I think it’s okay to have something in between, like you said, for a tissue box, or maybe a cup of water for a book, for anything. It’s really useful. It has its use, but yes, I would be mindful of what material it’s made out of and what it looks like.
[ALISON] It sounds like don’t pick something that’s really bulky and oversized because then that might feel like a barrier, you’re sitting too far apart.
[MARINA] I think, like you said, if they feel like it’s a barriers, maybe because it is too big. If it’s too big, it will be like a barrier. Just have to be really careful about the size.
[ALISON] I have heard in Feng Shui there’s certain places in the room where you’re supposed to place certain types of things. I apologize that I don’t know specifically. I can’t give you a specific example right now, but I was hoping you could talk a little bit about that obviously in the context of having a therapy office. Should you put a plant in one corner or that thing?
[MARINA] There’s so many things that could be done. The list goes on and on. I wouldn’t worry about placing certain items, just like going to a store and just, oh, this is a Feng Shui item. Let’s put it there. Everything has to have a reason to for it. But plants are always great. It’s always nice to have plants. I always mentioned that it would be great to have live plants. I’ve been to so many offices where, I went to an office recently, and I’m trying to remember which one it was, but they had, oh my God, it drives me crazy, but I can’t remember, but I will think of it. But anyway, I was there and they had the fake plants. Again, it’s okay if people use them.
The office where I went had fake plants that already had so much dust on it and it looks, it was just like not taking, it was just like a dust collector. It just gives you that feeling the office is not being taken care of. It’s not fresh. You’re thinking about is the air fresh? So I think better not to even include those fake plants. Just don’t even have plans. But live plants are always the best and I think it would be very soothing for patients to be in an therapy office where plants are incorporated. I think that would give a nice, incorporate nature into the office. I always try to do that in my project.
[ALISON] Is there anything else that you always try to include that you feel is just a good Feng Shui element?
[MARINA] Yes, I mean, definitely bringing in nature. I think that’s very important. It’s definitely a Feng Shui as well. But I think in terms of therapist offices, what I’m thinking about, art is very important, but again, it has to be art, not to, nothing that will get somebody thinking about a certain something. It would be nice to have, maybe incorporate nature and art. Maybe we have art that I don’t know shows the forest, the beach, something nature-like, because it’s hard to keep plants alive in an office. But I think it was really nice to have art, especially in a therapist’s office.
[ALISON] It’s interesting how people can react to abstract paintings or things like that, how they interpret that, especially being in the therapy chair. So I think, yes, nature and landscapes is the way to go.
[MARINA] I think it would be. I think that’s a very important thing that I would definitely try to incorporate for any therapist’s office. Again that also scales very important with that as well. Sometimes I’ve seen artwork being displayed and soul crooked. I think that’s very important, especially for an office like that, to have it all lined up. Again, something that looks like it’s being taken care of, not forgotten and angled. I’ve been in offices where I can’t help myself and I look at it, I’m like, oh my God, it shouldn’t be all a different, slanted and it fell once and it never got fixed again.
[ALISON] Yes, yes, for sure. I think that goes such a long way when you obviously are taking care of your space. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive furniture and décor, but if you’re taking good care of things that keep your things clean, that goes a long way.
[MARINA] Yes, exactly. I think just updating, because, again, I think it’s Feng Shui in terms of design. It’s just you see offices where there’s magazines from 10 years ago. Again, I think that goes back to the clutter and just making sure everything’s updated and fresh and looking good.
[ALISON] So are there certain Feng Shui principles that you would not recommend or you see people making mistakes that sort of goes against the whole Feng Shui aesthetic?
[MARINA] I mean, I think it’s all about, again, the layout and the flow of the space. So I think as long as the furniture is placed nicely and again, no extra pieces that are in the way, I think it’s just very important to have all flow. And it has to feel good. I mean, I think for a therapist they have to, I guess, put themselves in the patient’s shoes and just maybe try out the chair or the sofa or whatever. Maybe that’s a great way to just lay down or sit down and see it from the patient’s point of view. Because we get used to where we’re sitting. So I think that’s always good and taking a look around and seeing what’s in their office. I think it’s very, what happens is very personal and individual. So you have to really see what each office is. It’s hard to tell without seeing a particular office.
[ALISON] I was just thinking about, I know in healthcare design, especially, they don’t recommend using things that are, I think you already mentioned this, have sharp edges or pointy, spikey because that can make people anxious. So I was just wondering if there was anything like that specifically for Feng Shui.
[MARINA] Again, the angles, thinking of something that’s comforting, like you said in healthcare; just taking a close look at the materials, being chosen, the colors and just making sure it’s all very comfortable.
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[ALISON PIDGEON] I know you mentioned about the flow of the room a couple times. So do you mean in terms of there being enough space between the pieces of furniture or just that there’s, what do you mean when you say flow of the room?
[MARINA] Yes, it should feel good and spacious in a way. That’s why I was mentioning so it’s not like a lot of extra pieces, so you can breathe there. So the energy flows. There’s room for us for energy, just for the air. Because sometimes it’s just so packed. It’s hard. So you’re sitting there and then just, I guess that’s why a lot of people, there’s so much conversation about stress and clutter lately because people feel very stressed when there’s a lot of items near them and there’s just so much to look at. They get overwhelmed. So I think for flow, to have flow in that room, it just needs to have space basically. So just being mindful of what’s in there, not stuffing everything and anything. Because I’ve been into, especially like home offices, people just tend to just stuff it with things they just didn’t know where else to place. So just being mindful of the items that are in the room.
[ALISON] Thanks for explaining,. I feel that’s thing to remember. I think a lot of people think, oh, I have this room. I need to fill it up with all of this stuff. But actually it feels better when there’s just one picture hanging on a big wall and not 10.
[MARINA] Yes. It’s all about, I guess this is like there’s a balance. I’m so sorry, my cat is trying to get into a closet. Yes, it’s a really delicate balance of not having too much and not having too little because if it’s like, it could look sterile if it’s just two, one chair for the practitioner, one chair for the client and that’s it. I mean, it’s a very delicate balance. So it’s not too much, not too little if you know what I mean.
[ALISON] Tell me about how did you get into Feng Shui in the first place, because it sounds like that was something, you were already an interior designer and then you learned about Feng Shui. How did that happen?
[MARINA] Yes. I wasn’t anterior designer already and it was just, I guess my curiosity brought me there. I just was curious about it for a long, long time and I looked into schools and read a lot of books on it. Then I finally took a certificate course and just thinking, I’ll just learn for myself and then started doing consultations and just fell in love with it. Honestly, I wasn’t planning to do it professionally, but then one consultation after another and here we are 10 years later or a little more than that. Yes, I just really love it.
[ALISON] So what drew you to it or what about it do you, obviously you’re passionate about it or you wouldn’t continue doing it after 10 years?
[MARINA] I studied psychology before I studied interior design and something about Feng Shui really connected the dots. A lot of it is almost like a therapy session. When I go into a client’s home a lot of it is really analyzing their home at the same time going through their wish and want list. We sit down and we discuss what they want to work on in their life. Because there’s different schools of Feng Shui and the one I practice is called BTB Feng Shui. It follows an energy map called a Bagua map. So Bagua map is really, you lay it out over somebody’s home, whether it’s an apartment or a house and each part of the home is represented by something, everything represented in their life is represented in that map.
I don’t know if that’s making sense. I’m trying to explain it as quickly as I can, but basically every part of our home represents something in our life. So by looking at that section, you can make changes to your life. Again, it’s not just like putting something there. It’s just putting something there with the intention of making the change and then doing something also from, just putting an effort into doing something right, not just wishing for it.
[ALISON] So what would be one example of that? You’re talking about the map and obviously representing different parts of your life. So let’s say you want to make more money or you want to feel more peaceful or whatever that is. How do you that?
[MARINA] When I see the clients, that’s why it’s so great. I love working with clients. We talk about what they want to improve and then I walk through their home analyzing each part of their home. Then it’s just amazing how what they tell me, like why I fell in love with it is because what I’m seeing in their home is really what they’re telling me before or after. It really, you could see it clear in the home. So as they say, the homes represent us. We represent their homes. So it works both ways. For example, like you said, if somebody’s wants to bring, I think you said more wealth or more income, there’s a couple of ways to look at it.
There there’s a career section in that energy map that I mentioned, and there’s a wealth section, so there’s different ways of looking at it. For the wealth section, let’s say you can put a really tall plant there to help with the wealth part. But again, those sections are laid out differently for each home, depending on where your door is. So it’s always great to have a professional come in and take a look at it because it depends on the layout of your home and where your door is positioned.
[ALISON] Okay. Very cool.
[ALISON] I was just going to say, obviously you have probably seen the effects that this has had on your clients and your customers. Do you have any stories that you could tell us about examples of people and how making those changes affected them or how making the changes maybe in their home or their commercial building helped to change something in their life or their business?
[MARINA] Yes. The first thing I think about is like, even during the consultation, which lasts about two to three hours, it’s amazing because during the consultation, they already start telling me they feel good and that they already feel a change. Because again, it’s about just creating that flow and they start moving stuff, they start placing something from one quarter to another, they start removing certain items. Before I leave, even while we’re doing the walkthrough, they’re just like, oh my God, it feels so good. I’m so glad we’re doing this. So right away they feel a change.
I think it really pushes people to make certain changes. Again, it’s not just, I give them recommendations on what they can do inside the home. But then they also have homework. Let’s say it’s career. They actually, it gives them that push again. They do the Feng Shui part of it, but then they also make the changes based on whatever they want to improve. So I think it gives a push to make those changes and people just feel the energy change for them.
[ALISON] That’s really cool. So what do you think motivates people to reach out to you to get a Feng Shui consultation?
[MARINA] That’s a good question. I should ask them. Often a lot of people who’ve already done a little bit of research, they’re already believers in it because it’s hard to convince somebody else who doesn’t. Some people get a little scared, they hear it and they think it’s some woo woo stuff. But some people who have done the research, done a little bit of reading, that’s a good question about what makes them call me. But yes, a lot of times they just, a lot of clients call me and they say, it just doesn’t feel right. I’m just trying to think what usually happens. They just say something doesn’t feel right. I want it to feel good. I want to feel good in my own space.
They say they’ve tried this and that. It’s like staring at your own project too close. It’s always nice to have somebody else come in and see it from a different point of view. So a lot of people just call and they’re just, they know something doesn’t feel right. They don’t know what it is and they want someone to come in and help them. So I get that a lot. Then they’re very open and ready to making some changes and again walk around and it’s up to them to make the changes. I walk around and let them know what I recommend for them to do. Then I send them a report a little after our consultation, giving them more homework, basically. So it’s really up to them to make those changes. They have to go one by one. I think people, it’s always nice to have that to do list because we all know we have so much to do, but maybe going down the list helps people just to prioritize and get those things moving.
[ALISON] That’s really interesting. Do you think people maybe reach out to you because they feel stuck and they understand something about Feng Shui and they know they want to change things and they just don’t know how to do it?
[MARINA] I mean, a lot of times, I guess, because also reading a lot of Feng Shui books people get confused as to what needs to be done again with the Bagua map. It’s very confusing. If you try to lay it out, you might lay it out wrong. So I think most of the time people call me that they are a little bit familiar with it. They read a little bit about it, not everyone, but they are open to doing that. They’re just, again, they want to improve their space and they’re not sure where to start or what they should do first. A lot of people call because they’re overwhelmed or they know something needs to be done and they’re just overwhelmed.
[ALISON] Is there anything simple that people could do, maybe if they just feel stuck or they want to change some of the energy in their office space? Is there anything that you would recommend?
[MARINA] I mean, everybody always says declutter, declutter. That’s definitely a big one, but I know it gets to be a little stressful. So I’ll give you one step, either there’s a Feng Shui cure. We recommend moving 27 things. So if it’s too overwhelming to do the entire office, just moving 27 things, that’s a good start.
[ALISON] Okay. Awesome. That’s just to get things moving and —
[MARINA] Yes. You could move it from one, from left side of the desk to the right side of the desk and just move 27 items just to get that going. Because I think for a lot of people what’s hard is to just start. And once people start, then I think it works for everybody. It’s just hard to start, but once you get going, I think …
[ALISON] Cool. That’s a great tip. I think I’m going to do that now with my bookshelves that are behind me.
[MARINA] Oh, I would love to hear how that goes. Just try moving 27 things. I would love to hear how it works for everybody.
[ALISON] Yes. Well, it’s been great talking with you and learning about Feng Shui, Marina. Can you share with us how folks can get ahold of you if they’re interested in learning more or if they have questions for you?
[MARINA] Sure. You can find everything about me and my services on my website at marinavdesignstudio.com.
[ALISON] Excellent. Well, thank you so much. It’s been great to talk with you today.
[MARINA] You’re very welcome. I just forgot to mention there. I think there’s a sheet full of tips on my website. You just put your email in and they can get nine tips. The Bagua map is on there too. There’s a PDF where they can start exploring what a Bagua map is and all the different sections. I mentioned.
[ALISON] Awesome. Thank you so much.
[MARINA] You’re welcome.
[ALISON] Well, I wanted to say thank you to Therapy Notes for being a sponsor of this podcast. We know your EHR is awesome and we are happy to tell other people about it. So if you want to get Therapy Notes for free for three months, use promo code [JOE], J-O-E, no strings attached, and you can check it out and see if you’re ready to make the switch.
Thanks so much for listening and bearing with me as I have a winter cold this year. I wanted to get this episode out to you so that you could learn all about Feng Shui and how to incorporate it into your therapy office. If you are curious about TheraSuite, you can check it out at www.thera-suite.com. That is my new business where I’m helping practice owners decorate their offices. I’d really love it if you would check it out and give me some feedback. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org. All right. Talk to you later.
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This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.