Interior design students help local nonprofit enhance play therapy room
The play therapy room at the Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County will soon get a makeover, thanks to the support of Palm Beach State College interior design students.
A group of nine, all in their second year of the Interior Design Technology program, have been volunteering their time and skills to redesign the room used for clients of the West Palm Beach-based nonprofit, which is now in its 61st year of operation. The students broke up into three groups, and each team designed a concept that was formally presented in January to the Center for Family Services staff.
“Play therapy is an integral part of treatment at the Center, especially in our SAFE Kids program that deals primarily with victims of abuse and crimes. These children need a safe, welcoming place to heal. As we look for donors to fund this project and name our therapy playroom, we thought to reach out to Palm Beach State College’s interior design program,” said Dr. Fabiana DesRosiers, CEO at Center for Family Services.
Spearheading this project for the Center is director of Counseling Services, Jamie-Lyn Richartz. “Our thought was to give students developing an expertise in interior design something they can put into their portfolios for the future and get the real-world experience that is translatable after they graduate.’’
She contacted Professor Zenaida Espinosa, Interior Design Technology department chair, who tapped Professor Nancy Albert to lead the initiative, which began in the fall. Richartz and the team at the Center for Family Services will decide on the three options this month, but the final project may incorporate some aspects of each design concept.
“All three designs presented were wonderful and amazing. It is hard to choose just one, since the creativity, color and design of each meets the needs of a soothing space for children to heal. We will probably incorporate a bit of each. That way all of the students can be honored in this project,’’ Richartz said.
Richartz anticipates the transformation of the play therapy room, used for clients of the West Palm Beach-based organization, will occur this summer.
“Play therapy is an evidence-based, empirically based treatment modality that can be used for various types of needs. It’s primarily used with children, but you can also use it with teens and adults,” she said. “We primarily use it as an alternative to doing talk therapy. It’s a way to build rapport in relationships, communication skills and role playing. The goal is to have that be a comfortable space for our clients. We work a lot with people impacted by sexual abuse, so having a safe space where they communicate those experiences, not necessarily with words but through play, is important.”
The interior design concepts feature enhancements from the flooring and walls to furniture and lighting. A significant update also will include installation of a one-way glass for staff to observe and assess clients for both evaluation and training.
“I can’t believe the time and dedication our students put into this partnership project,’’ Albert said, noting that the invitation to participate went to all 40 of the Associate in Science degree program’s second-year students. “Everything they do is on their own time. They are not getting class credit,’’ she said. “This is very important because students are contributing to their community while getting hands-on experience.”
Richartz said the Center for Family Services began discussing after the height of the pandemic the need to revamp the space. “We can’t speak enough to the beautiful work they did. I think I was at a loss for words during the presentations. They went above and beyond their presentations, especially given they were donating their time to do it. We are grateful for that.”
Student Millie Schmidt, who is in her last semester in the program, developed a “primary rainbow” design concept with her group.
“It was really an honor to be working with such a nice group of people. It was an overall great experience to be able to work with my classmates in a group project,” she said. “It was a great opportunity overall. I hope other classes get the opportunity to do something like this and get real-world experience. We plan on continuing to work together as a team no matter which design they choose.”