Your Home is a Window
July 31, 2012 by
Categories: Miscellaneous, Therapy

Recently, there has been a wave of agencies moving towards home-based therapy, in which a therapist comes to your home to provide therapy to your family. Often this process is completed with a family – rather than an individual – though often a child is the target client. This tradition was once a common part of health care, though now it is seen as bold and invasive. I have heard opinions on both sides of the argument: (1) home-based therapy can be not only chaotic in that you have to try therapy in a distracting environment but also risky in that you are vulnerable to the whims of the family; and (2) home-based therapy provides an inside look at the family in their natural environment which allows a therapist to see the habits and nuances that typically take place day-to-day.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the second half of this argument and what it can mean for individual and couples therapy as well. Our homes say a lot about us. In my own home, you will find a combination of home-made projects, suggesting that my husband and I have a taste for creativity and making things ourselves. However, you will also find many of my unfinished projects, indicating my tendency to be incredibly ambitious with not enough “follow through.”

If a therapist entered your home, what would she find? Would there be evidence of some hidden, secret goal that you aren’t allowing yourself to reach for? What about remnants from a recent argument? Would she find keepsakes from a moment filled with regret or sorrow?

What would be the first thing you would hide? What are you too embarrassed for an outsider to see? These aspects of your home are key pieces to understanding who you are, and home visits can offer the essential ingredients for creating individualized therapy.

“Each visit has informed me about aspects of my patients that I would have never otherwise known – their hobbies, the intrusiveness of their work, their aesthetic sensibility (evidenced by the furnishings, decorations, artworks), their recreational habits, evidence of books and magazines in the home.” – I. D. Yalom

I do not suggest that you let everyone into your home. I am even hesitant to suggest that a therapist should do a home visit within the first few sessions. It is a significant and intimate experience that should only be completed once the appropriate boundaries have been set. A home visit is an experience that can help break down the walls that are often reinforced by the stuffiness of a therapy room. As for therapists leery of the experience, a home visit is an opportunity for your client to see the whole you, and not just the part of you that exists in an office.

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