Prevent panic: keep your room cool

Prevent clients from panicking by keeping your room cool. Overheating clients can misinterpret a rise in room temperature as the onset of a panic attack.

Panic occurs when benign physical sensations are interpreted as threatening, leading to a surge of adrenaline which exacerbates the sensations and the perceived threat (eg: a cramped chest muscle causes anxiety and tension, increasing the pain from the muscle and increasing the worry that a heart attack is occurring).

Anxious clients entering a hot consulting room can misinterpret the rise in temperature as a rise in their own anxiety levels. Fearing that they will lose control in front of you, they will produce more adrenaline, further raising their body temperature and beginning the vicious circle of a panic attack.

Physical therapists often work with partially or fully unclothed clients in gyms or examination rooms. The heating tends to be on full for the benefit of the semi-clad clients and the staff dress accordingly, in light uniforms or casual wear (eg: T-shirts).

Psychological therapists mostly work with clients who are fully clothed, maybe even still wearing coats, in their clinics or consulting rooms. The staff may be dressed more formally but the heating still tends to be high, as sedentary bodies generate less heat of their own,

Movement creates bodily warmth. Working muscles generate heat, so psychological therapists (and other sedentary workers such as their receptionists) will feel cold sooner than physical therapists…or recently arrived clients.

Out-patients and visitors to clinics or consulting rooms may have had a long walk (and several flights of stairs) to reach their appointment and may not have time (or be invited) to remove their outdoor clothing during the appointment. They will swelter in an environment which is comfortable to you.

To prevent clients overheating—and potentially panicking—always invite them to remove their coats before beginning the session. Equally importantly, heat your rooms for the benefit of your clients, even if it means dressing more warmly yourself.

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