Today's guest post is by Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist and expert on Postpartum Mental Health, Women’s Emotional Health, Grief & Loss, Motherhood and Parenting. Dr. Hibbert runs a successful private practice in Flagstaff, Arizona, housed in the same location as her husband's dental practice.
A few years back, after I had my fourth baby and we inherited our two nephews (that’s a long story for another day!), I quit working in the group practice I’d been with for four years. After staying home for two years to put our new family together, I felt it might be time to open a practice of my own. Being a mom of six, I was very nervous about adding a private practice to my already jam-packed “to-do” list. Thank goodness my husband was thinking for me.
“Why don’t we build you an office behind mine?” he suggested one day. My husband has a dental practice in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona. The office is a little historic home that was converted years ago. It has a white picket fence and a hand-painted sign hanging from a shingle out front. Very quaint. Flagstaff is known for its interesting combination of businesses (airport/beauty salon; antique shop/physician), so why not dentist/psychologist? It seemed to make sense.
My husband and a couple of his buddies began construction in what was the small parking lot behind his office, and a few months later, my 12' x 12' little “house” was ready to go. I painted the outside blue with white trim and a flower box, decorated the inside comfortably, hooked up a new phone line, and we were in business.
There are a few definite perks to sharing an office space with your spouse:
1) No or low rent
The biggest perk, of course, is that I don’t actually pay rent. I added a line to his phone line and only use minimal utilities, so it is a real money saver!
2) No wasted space
My husband uses my office as a consultation room or lounge on the days I’m not there. Since I work part-time, it feels good to know I’m not wasting my space. It’s also a handy place for our kids to hang out on the off days when I’m out of town and they need to go to work with dad. We put toys and a TV in the office, so it’s ready for visitors of all kind (including all the babies that come in with the postpartum moms I see!).
3) Double-duty staff
Another perk is that I can utilize my husband’s staff to help me as needed. Though I take all my own phone calls and do my own scheduling, I am able to count on his office manager to help me check in clients, take payment, and give them a “waiting room” in the snowy winter months. His staff also helps clean my office, water my plants, and take care of the weekly postpartum support group that still needs to meet with my co-facilitator when I am out of town.
4) Built-in referrals
Sharing office space is an excellent referral network. Many of my clients end up in his dental chair and several of his patients end up on my couch.
5) Time together
Though it may not be a perk for all couples, my favorite thing about sharing office space is that we are working together. I don’t run his office and he doesn’t run mine, but we help each other out. We give suggestions and share tips. We chat in between clients and some days we get to “do lunch.” I always get to end my day with a hug goodbye as he stays to support the family financially and I leave to support the family as chauffeur and chef.
So, if you’re looking for a way to make a part-time practice work for you, consider office-sharing. In my case it’s with my husband, but whether it’s with your spouse, a friend, or a colleague, it just might be the solution you’re looking for!
Dr. Christina Hibbert is a Clinical Psychologist and expert on Postpartum Mental Health, Women’s Emotional Health, Grief & Loss, Motherhood and Parenting. She received her BA from Brigham Young University and her MA and Psy.D. from California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles. Dr. Hibbert is the Founder of the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition, and is the producer of the internationally-sold DVD, Postpartum Couples. Dr. Hibbert is a dynamic and engaging speaker and is currently finishing up her first book, This Is How We Grow. Mostly, though, Christina Hibbert is a happily married mother trying to keep up with six energetic children!