How to keep coworkers from hearing therapy sessions through office walls
September 11, 2022 7:42 PM   Subscribe

I have an online therapy session 1-2x/week on my lunch hour. For the last year, I have had my sessions seated in my car in the parking lot, but I have some returning neck and back pain that makes sitting in the car for long times very uncomfortable. I would like to start taking my sessions in my office, but I'm concerned my coworkers will hear what I am saying through the walls or maybe under the door. I can sometimes hear my coworkers next door having conversations, so I assume they can hear mine too.

Is there something I can do to help muffle my voice? I have a little fan in my office, so I did consider turning it on high. I also thought of turning on some music, but I think that might distract me. Any other ideas? There is a small gap under the door if that makes a difference.
posted by allison00 to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there a more private location (in the office) that could work?

Otherwise, white noise machines (set outside your closed door) are the general therapist solution. That won't really address thin walls, though.
posted by lapis at 7:53 PM on September 11, 2022

Would this speech jammer work for you?
posted by The Half Language Plant at 7:53 PM on September 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Am I supposed to hear something on the speech jammer? Or is it playing at a frequency I can’t hear?

I hadn’t thought of a white noise machine. I could probably do that, but inside my door.
posted by allison00 at 8:32 PM on September 11, 2022

In general, in my experience (therapist), if you want to block other people from hearing the noise, it's better to place the white noise machine where they are, not where you are. I know that's not always possible, but that's why therapists place them outside the doors. It's basically like they mask the sounds you're hearing, not the sounds that are created by others.
posted by lapis at 8:44 PM on September 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

If you're close with the coworkers, you could ask if they mind wearing headphones for that time just in case.
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:25 PM on September 11, 2022

This may be obvious but be sure to use headphones. The amplified sound of the other person carries much better than just regular voices talking.
posted by metahawk at 9:27 PM on September 11, 2022 [8 favorites]

The fan in your office will only prevent you from hearing anything outside. The walls/doors do a good job of filtering out the white noise so your voice will still carry to your coworkers. Also you'll probably unconsciously speak louder to overpower the sound of the fan which is doubly bad.

I'd say a good headset if you're not already using one would help keep your conversations harder to follow as coworkers wouldn't be able to hear the therapist's side. And being able to hear your therapist well and having them hear you well will allow you to speak softer. Music in the office might help mask some of your speech as well.
posted by simplethings at 9:34 PM on September 11, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Is there a meeting room you could use?

Could you go for a walk as opposed to sitting in the car?

Is there a way to make your car seat more comfortable, perhaps sit on passenger side or back and adjust things, have a pillow etc?
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:09 PM on September 11, 2022 [17 favorites]

Best answer: I'd go for the headphones and attached microphone right in front of your mouth like call center workers or gamers and such. Then music or something like a podcast or video playing in the background out of the speakers or such. Your conversation would be lost in the noise. There are probably even headsets with some active noise cancellation functionality that would filter out the background noise from what you hear in your ears and from what you say into that microphone that's right in front of your mouth.

If it doesn't exist, somebody should write something that plays some background audio and removes it from the headset.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:21 AM on September 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

> Any other ideas?

Lumbar pillows for the car seat?
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:36 AM on September 12, 2022

Go for a walk with a cell phone?
posted by eotvos at 2:45 AM on September 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

I wonder if you might end up in an uncomfortable situation if someone tries to come in to ask you something if you're in your office? If they think you are just having lunch this could happen, right? I would try for other options if you can. Even having people walking by might be weird I would think? They might catch up your eye in a vulnerable moment? Obvs I don't know the actual set up or culture of your office.
posted by jojobobo at 5:39 AM on September 12, 2022 [5 favorites]

There are "portable vocal recording panels" which are U-shaped things you set on a desk and put a microphone in and then talk into. The idea is that they kill sound from the environment getting to the mic, but they also absorb the sound of the performer. I haven't delved into these things too deeply, but maybe there's a one of those that would extend around the side of you a bit and help attenuate your talking?

I haven't used any of the current crop, but ah employer ages ago had a portable sound booth, kinda like those but on all 4 sides, and it was freaky how much sound it absorbed.
posted by straw at 7:05 AM on September 12, 2022

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