Spatiality of the Mind

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  • Title: Spatiality of the Mind: Exploring the Relationships between Therapeutic Practice and Design
  • Author(s): Stephanie Liddicoat
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Design in Society
  • Keywords: Built Environment, Evidence-based Design, Environmental Psychology, Mental Health
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2325-1328 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1360 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Liddicoat, Stephanie. 2019. "Spatiality of the Mind: Exploring the Relationships between Therapeutic Practice and Design." The International Journal of Design in Society 13 (2): 41-61. doi:10.18848/2325-1328/CGP/v13i02/41-61.
  • Extent: 21 pages


The relationships between the design of spaces for counselling and therapeutic practice for individuals who self-harm is the focus of this article. A study was conducted that examined the perceptions of spatiality of service users of mental health services who self-harm and the aspects of built therapeutic environments that were significant and/or important. This study thus focused on investigating service users’ psychocognitive understandings of space; perceptions related to spatial structuring and/or interactions with physical environments were explored relative to how they may impact therapeutic functions. The data collection involved a series of interviews with several participant groups: mental health service users who self-harm, their carers, therapists/counsellors, architects, and design experts/researchers. Through analysis of the data collected, a series of findings was determined relating to perceptions of spatiality and the affective dimensions of therapeutic environments. This article explores how individuals who self-harm experience particular connections between physical and psychological spaces, where engaging in physical space can support exercises in self-production. A series of research-derived design recommendations is tabled to be used to develop supportive, therapeutic spaces delivering mental health services, which privilege access to a physicality of production and affect. The article concludes with implications for research and practice.