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Old 05-28-2014, 09:02 AM   #1
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Houston , Texas
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need help on mobile therapy idea

Hello everyone,

I am a psychologist and overlander (Land Cruiser 100 series owner and enthusiast). I'm doing some research to determine how feasible it would be to convert an airstream into a mobile office to conduct therapy in. As you might imagine, therapy sessions can be quite soul bearing and the vulnerability of this process requires an environment that is safe, secure, trusting, and confidential. Even in more traditional office spaces, sound proofing an office requires work. I am wondering about how insulated a newer model airstream would be to make this feasible. With very limited knowledge on Airstreams, I'm making the assumption that a newer model (2005ish and up) would be more insulated? This is where I could use some of your experience. Could you hold a conversation inside with ease without others readily hearing you from the outside? Is the A/C system noisy to the point of distraction?

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts with me. It's appreciated as I try to break down barriers to treatment, do what I love, and get outside of the box a bit.

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Old 05-28-2014, 09:12 AM   #2
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I don't believe you are correct with an assumption that newer models are more soundproof.

The AC system is loud and distracting.

I would lean more towards an airstream that has upholstered walls to provide some absorption.

Since your a rich doctor (ha!), I suggest you be the first to invest in the new Classic! It has ducted AC which should be more quiet. It comes with power recliners in the sofa. I suspect you could use the dinette as an "office" or change it out to something more suitable.

Let me know when you open up business. Many folks suggest I need help.

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Old 05-28-2014, 09:21 AM   #3
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Houston , Texas
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Thank you for your thoughts, DanB! If this idea turns out to be doable, my hope is to tow something on the smaller side. My hope would be around a 16-17 foot Bambi or a Safari Sport. If it turns out that an older model is no better insulated, I may consider that route. I'm trying to be mindful of the balance between customizing the space into an appropriate office while also not modifying it to the point of it being difficult to sell if I needed to. Lots to consider. Thanks for your two cents.
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:50 AM   #4
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Interesting idea. Just out of curiosity, how "mobile" are you thinking? Serving a town/city, a county, a state? You could probably drum up a good deal of business just serving airstreamers.......most of us are nuts anyway, obsessive compulsive disorders are probably the most common! Have you read any of the threads here speaking to the research, time, money, worry, or obsessions we folks have with our units......hahahahaha.....nuts i tell ya!
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:08 AM   #5
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Houston , Texas
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Haha, thanks Mayco! My city is sprawling so my initial plan would be to work within a 65 mile radius or so from the city center. With gas concerns in mind, I would plan on stationing myself in 2-3 consistent spots each week. There is room for this idea to change and adapt depending on needs.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:10 AM   #6
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Great idea! Just hitting the AS meets will give you plenty of exposure and fodder for a book on "Aluminitis".

I don't know how loud your sessions are, but with AC running, conversations are not discernable outside.

Being mobile would require RV hookups or a portable genset. Need to find local ordinances on that sort of thing.

You may also have to train visitors on the restroom facilities.

Good luck!
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:26 AM   #7
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Sounds like a neat idea.

Random Thoughts:

A "Mini-Split" AC would be much more quiet - and less "RV-Like".

Although the walls in Vintage and New will probably perform about the same, I'd imagine the windows in a newer unit, since they'd be double glazed would perform a little better (sound proofing wise).

I think the carpet or fabric on the walls is a good idea - not just in decreasing sound transmission but also there'd be an acoustical improvement in that your own voice will sound quieter to your own self - which I think would be a good thing (psychologically speaking).

I don't know about Texas but I know if you were in California, and NOT "flying under the radar" you'd have to have an "Accessible Ramp" up to a 36" wide door (among various and sundry other things).

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Old 05-28-2014, 01:12 PM   #8
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If you are staying in the local area why not let the patients come to you in a fixed location? Is there a need to be mobile? Just trying to figure out what aspect of being mobile is advantageous to you?

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Old 05-28-2014, 01:33 PM   #9
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I'd go with a motorhome. A trailer will be kind of a PITA to park in many locations. Motorhome would have an onboard generator, too. (This is just thinking a mobile office with no 'roaming' once parked. If you're thinking of setting up somewhere then exploring from there, a trailer might be the better solution.)

But none are well insulated. There is some dampening of sound, but if a car rolls by outside you'll hear it.
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Old 05-28-2014, 02:25 PM   #10
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Thank you, cwf and MarkR. That's very helpful insight!

That's a good call about the parking being a pain, Skater. With some of the connections I've made in the city so far in regards to where I would station myself, parking isn't an issue so that was less on my radar. I'll definitely have to keep that in mind as a potential problem or limitation. I was hoping having a smaller trailer would work to my benefit in that regard.

perryg114, as of now, I would hope to be able to work within a radius of about 65 miles, so not exactly "local" as this would allow me the freedom to serve areas with limited resources. Your question is an important one that I'm continuing to wrestle with as I do more research and gauge how much benefit would actually come from having a mobile office. I may find that the benefits are not worth the cost in the end. My questions for the Airstream community are to help me gain a better grasp on some of the other logistics involved. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experience!
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Old 05-28-2014, 03:59 PM   #11
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I would say that if you were running a generator and the AC, you needn't worry about anyone overhearing a conversation you are having inside the trailer, regardless of age, double glazing of windows, etc.. The air conditioners might seem noisy to some, like "white noise" to others. I think you would find the generator to be the noisy and irritating item, though it is possible to minimize this with paired Honda EU2000i gennies.

Another issue I could foresee is just the tightness of the small trailers. Unless you plan to do some serious rearranging of the interior, even a 19 ft trailer can have a pretty closterphobic feel to it, and may not lend itself to a comfortable counseling session if you have to sit at a dinette and talk to the patient across a table.

You might want to find a rally to attend. There you could visit various sized trailers, experience the soothing/irritating noise of the AC and experiment a bit with how much noise passes through the trailer walls with the door closed.

Good luck!
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Old 05-28-2014, 05:04 PM   #12
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I like the idea of a motorhome for what you are trying to do, that way everything is in one place. Many of them have a built in generator. Most mobile labs and offices I have seen are motorhome based. Things like blood mobiles etc. You could even pull a small Airstream behind it.

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Old 05-28-2014, 06:44 PM   #13
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Hello Dr.,

Check the link below. Might be good for you, in particular the nearly soundless heating and cooling systems aboard. Classy too.

All the best,
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Old 05-29-2014, 02:06 AM   #14
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I second the concern about the potentially claustrophobic layout of the smaller AS trailers. I'm imagining that you would be sitting opposite your patients at the dinette. You'll probably be bumping legs, and be pretty much right on top of each other. If you have more than one patient at a time (husband, wife, kid) it just won't be workable.

Otherwise you could "pull a Freud" and have the patient lie back on the bed so he could talk about his mother, while you sat at the dinette. However, this approach wouldn't be very good for eye-contact if it was desired.

You'll want to establish some rules about patients' use of the bathroom too.

Logistically speaking will you be able to handle all of the paperwork and computer work in tight-quarters? Billing, scheduling, prescriptions, etc. are probably all computerized. You'll need gear that will allow you to interact with other computers. You would minimally need a tablet or laptop (maybe a printer too) to keep up with all of this fun stuff. That is going to use up some precious table space too.

Your idea is very interesting, but I'm not sure how many patients are going to be comfortable with the setting - even after repeated expsure. I know I wouldn't be.

Good luck!

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