Niche Coworking: 3 shared spaces for mental health professionals

Niche Coworking: 3 shared spaces for mental health professionals

We usually use the term “niche coworking” to describe spaces that are tailored to the needs of members working in a specific industry. Niche coworking spaces are growing in popularity: you’ll find workspaces for educators, musicians, scientists – the list goes on. 

For a niche coworking space to work – and become profitable – there needs to be sufficient demand for it. That’s why lots of these specialist workspaces exist in central hubs that are well connected in terms of transport, making them easy to get to. 

People join coworking spaces to gain access to the facilities they need to grow their practices or business. But they’re also incentivised by the community aspect: all the amenities in the world won’t mean much if there aren’t opportunities for collaboration.

In the first of our Niche Coworking series, we take a look inside three successful shared workspaces for professionals operating in the fields of psychology and mental health: Alma and Khospace in the US, and Stillpoint in London, Berlin and Paris. 

Stillpoint Spaces in Paris.

Designing physical and virtual spaces for members

Founded by Dr. Harry Ritter – a doctor and former tech company VP – Alma’s first specialist coworking location opened in October 2018 in Midtown Manhattan. 

It offered a range of support services for those operating in the mental health field, including thoughtfully designed therapy rooms for members to meet patients. 

Like some of the most successful shared workspaces out there, Alma’s location was designed in response to research. For instance, research has shown that patients have a preference for familiarity and continuity when engaging with treatment. 

With this in mind, Alma’s 16 therapy rooms were designed identically. They were also sound-proofed to support privacy and patient confidentiality. The check-in process was designed with privacy in mind too, and the chairs in the waiting room faced in the same direction to minimise the chance of unwanted interactions. 

Every single design detail was carefully considered. The interior designer Lauren Spear selected saturated hues that are known for their calming effects, and a bespoke scent was used throughout the space to further the sensorial feeling of calm. 

Another niche operator, Khospace, currently operates three locations in Florida and it has three more coming soon (in Florida and Ohio). The operator rents out rooms for therapy and wellness professionals. As well as carefully designed spaces, Khospace has embedded flexibility into every aspect of its membership model.

Members can rent therapy rooms by the hour (instead of committing to a lease), access the space 24/7 and pause their membership if they need to. Khospace also runs a referral programme and enables businesses to upscale within the space as they grow. 

The importance of pivoting to meet members’ needs

In March 2020, just 5% of Alma’s members were conducting virtual therapy sessions. Then, when the Covid-19 lockdown came into force, the operator's revenue fell by 65%. Alma realised that it needed to pivot and invest in its virtual offering – and quickly. 

There was a clear appetite for investing in mental health technology in 2020. In fact, $1.5 billion was invested in mental health startups over the course of the year. 

In 2021, Alma closed its two therapy-focused workspaces in New York to concentrate on its virtual platform and the health insurance aspect of the business, and received a $50 million investment to do so. Between April 2020 and August 2021, Almas’s revenue increased 13-fold and membership was growing by 30 to 40% every quarter. 

Alma supports members by providing them with a profile on an exclusive directory and access to a Client Matching service, marketing tools designed to help members grow their practice, and digital tools that power in-person and virtual sessions. 

Importantly, members retain autonomy over how their practice operates – they can still set their own rates and choose how many clients they see each week, for instance. 

 

Since “going virtual”, Alma is continuing to broaden its network. 

Stillpoint is a European organisation that runs offline and online communities. 

It was founded by a group of psychotherapists who wanted to “share the power of therapy beyond the confines of the consulting room”, and began as a series of events in various locations around Zurich called “Psychoanalysis on the Streets”. 

Nowadays, Stillpoint has permanent spaces in London, Berlin and Paris, where practitioners can rent therapy rooms, work independently in dedicated library areas, and collaborate and develop professionally in coworking spaces. 

Stillpoint also welcomes people who aren’t working directly in the field of psychology, and like Alma, has adapted its offering to meet the evolving needs of its members. During the pandemic, Stillpoint launched an online space for the psychologically curious. This online community has well over 1,000 members and is still growing. 

Stillpoint Spaces in London features therapy rooms, a library and a coworking/events space.

Industry-specific services and events

Anyone who wants to open a niche coworking space needs to work on developing its industry-specific tools and services. Identifying a need and coming up with a solution can help an organisation really stand out in a competitive market. 

One of Alma’s USPs is its focus on insurance. 

Alma’s technology helps reduce the administrative costs associated with insurance. It contracts with insurance companies on behalf of its members so that they get access to negotiated rates on behalf of the group. This enables members to see more patients, and they get paid in two weeks instead of having to wait months for claims processing. 

Arguably, a niche coworking space’s most valuable asset – aside from its community – is its education and events programme. Alma hosts sessions on a range of topics that are designed to inform and support members of its community on their professional journey. 

For instance, on 27 May it will be hosting an online session led by an expert on how private practitioners can manage their finances, “unpacking everything from record-keeping tools to setting up a business entity and navigating tax filings”. 

On 6 May it will host a Community Conversation for Black providers. 

Led by Alma clinical advisor Dr. James Wadley, PhD, “this group will offer a safe space for providers to share their experiences, what they're seeing in clients, and how they can best support themselves and their clients right now”.

Stillpoint runs events and courses that anyone can join and seminars for professionals. For example, on 27 April it will be hosting an online seminar titled “Poetry Therapy for Helping Professionals”, and invites therapists, counsellors, coaches, social workers, doctors and teachers to join. The event description reads:

“During this online seminar for therapists, counsellors, coaches, social workers, doctors, and teachers, we will learn how to use poetry and self-reflective writing for personal and professional development. The seminar will have both the experiential interactive part and a short theoretical introduction to poetry therapy.”

Nexudus for niche coworking spaces

A variety of niche coworking operators use Nexudus to run and manage their physical and virtual workspaces, including Khospace. Nexudus integrates with a whole host of other programmes so that operators only need to use one platform for everything. 

Khospace’s Founder and CEO, Bo Pericic, explains that he tested a number of software systems before encountering Nexudus, but they all fell short on “flexibility, invoicing options, or user experience, from both an admin and client-facing standpoint”.

Due to the nature of his niche, Bo needed software that would help his team handle cancellations, credit notes and refunds with ease. Unlike hot desk bookings which tend to be for a day, therapy sessions "take place in hourly increments and emergency bookings/cancellations occasionally come with the territory.”

Privacy and security are also paramount, so the software also needed to integrate with Kohospace’s existing Kisi smart locks. Fortunately, Nexudus covered all bases: 

"Nexudus solved the problems we had by providing a platform that has everything in one solution. Bookings, Invoicing, Billing, Accounting, Emailing, Physical Mail Delivery, Automation, you name it – Nexudus does it. 

“It’s the perfect balance of being simple to use, and very customisable,” said Bo. 


If you run a niche coworking space, get in touch to find out how we can automate workflows, streamline operations, support your members and scale up your operations.

Next time, we’ll take you on a tour of niche coworking for musicians: watch this space!


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