You generally find that shrinks are concerned with the interior of the mind – not so much interiors. So how did a bunch of shrinks end up developing a coworking space? Does coworking and psychology mix, and if so how?
First off, let’s deal with the word shrink, which is a misnomer. Talking therapists (psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, counsellors, and psychologists) are generally about mind expansion, not shrinkage. It’s our job to access the depths of what it means to be human, and to help our clients make sense of their lives. I use the word shrinks because it is evocative of the mysterious origins of our profession – the secretive process that takes place in private consultation rooms with fetishised objects like couches and cigars.
While Stillpoint Spaces was founded by such shrinks, we’ve come a long way from the Freudian couch. Mind you, we respect our origins very much, but we also passionately believe that the wonderful insights which can be gained within a consulting room shouldn’t be limited to it. This is part of the vision that launched our four spaces (London, Berlin, Paris, and Zurich) and the tagline that goes with them, “Exploring psychology, in depth, inside and outside the consulting room.” At Stillpoint Spaces London, we are developing this vision all the time.
Our founding partners are all “depth psychotherapists”, trained in the kind of psychoanalysis practiced by Freud and Jung. This kind of psychotherapy explores the unconscious and helps people make sense of their lives by way of understanding our human depths. While we all practice in the usual way, we weren’t satisfied with accessing psychological knowledge through therapy alone – so how else could it be done?
Starting on the streets of Berlin and Zurich and then moving to Paris and London we ran programmes called “Psychoanalysis on the Streets” to engage members of the public about the exciting ideas of psychoanalysis in open, modern, and accessible ways. These events, run in pubs, cafes, and in urban centres, soon grew to include brick and mortar venues where therapists could practice and members of the public could engage in depth psychotherapy in other ways. These other ways reached London in the spring of 2017 with the development of Stillpoint Spaces London in Clerkenwell.
It took 18 months to find a viable location that could contain our dream. We are located in a beautiful Dickensian building just off the beaten path from Clerkenwell Green. 23 Clerkenwell Close was an empty shell when we moved in, which provided a blank slate upon which we could build our ideal psychological workspace.
Across two floors our aim was to install warm, contemporary, and brightly lit consulting rooms on the first floor with an airy, colourful, and open public space on the second. We savoured the idea of people exploring their interior worlds downstairs, while others engaged in a more public way upstairs. This vision was brought to life with the loving guidance of Christian Held at Bump Architects.
Our second floor became “The Lab”, an open plan coworking space complete with a library and study area where people could engage in their work in a psychologically minded environment. The Lab is bathed in natural light where coworkers can help themselves to locally roasted coffee while availing themselves to our carefully curated library and bookshop – including the complete works of Freud and Jung.
In the evenings, the coworking space converts to a public event space where we run a programme for the psychologically curious. We also have rolling arts exhibitions, film screenings, and book launches. You don’t need to be a “shrink” to be a member – you just need to have the curiosity. Members enjoy a host of benefits including discounts to our events, books, and space hire.
Our first floor is occupied by talking therapists and coaches working out of five warm contemporaneously designed consulting rooms. Our aim was to go contemporary and modern and avoid a clinical feel – so that both practitioners and their clients felt looked after and cared for. The floor contains a spacious waiting area where clients can help themselves to tea and filtered water, browsing a New Yorker on a comfortable couch or armchair while they wait for their session.
Although it’s a non-clinical setting, we took the remit seriously. Each of our rooms are built to be as acoustically sealed as possible to maintain privacy; each room is also individually climate controlled and has its own entry phone. The result is a warm and safe place to explore the self in privacy.
Our membership of clinicians and non-clinicians are encouraged to participate in our growing community where therapists talk to coaches, who talk to designers, who talk to writers, who talk to illustrators, who talk to artists, who talk to students . . . the list goes on. Our members have independently set up networking sessions and book groups creating a working space that goes beyond just work and reaches into self-development as well. Our rock-bottom student membership rates encourage students from a variety of disciplines to use the space for their own educational, personal, and psychological development.
We think Stillpoint Spaces London is the first psychological workspace of its kind. We are just over a year old, and look forward to developing our vision and bringing insight and depth to the workspace, which is sorely missing in so many spaces devoted to productivity alone. After all, like the word “shrink” the idea of a “work/life balance” is a misnomer too, isn’t it?
Coworking spaces are especially geared towards the independent freelancer who is trying her best to align life goals, psychological and emotional, with career ones. In this sense, work is life, so who better than a bunch of shrinks to try and work out how that can be better achieved?
I am an author, media contributor, speaker, and psychotherapist drawing on the finest insights from the world of psychology and bringing them to people, culture, and technology.