Can Good Design Erase the Stigma Around Going to Therapy?
In the midst of bustling Midtown Manhattan, a new oasis for mental health opens today (Oct. 10). Like a WeWork for independent therapists, Alma offers a roster of business support services and a beautiful space to meet patients. Walking into the health start-up’s offices makes one wonder why more doctor’s offices aren’t this thoughtfully designed.
Founded by Dr. Harry Ritter, a doctor and former vice president at the technology-focused health insurance company Oscar, Alma offers a new co-practicing model for therapists. It is also a convincing testament to why good design is so vital, especially in medical spaces. The waiting areas, treatment rooms, and the doctors’ lounge were designed based on research. For instance, each of the 16 therapy rooms are identical, down to the pillows on the couches and the books on the shelves, because research shows clients seek familiarity and continuity when seeking treatment. Alma’s founders obsessed over making check-in easier and more private. The waiting room seating all faces one direction, to avoid any unwanted interactions or run-ins. And yes, there’s a calming custom-blend scent that wafts throughout the space. It’s a far cry from the stark fluorescent lighting, tacky posters, and din of faxes in a typical doctor’s office.