I have been a licensed MSW psychotherapist for over 35 years, dedicated to supporting children, adults, couples and families to find ways of living fulfilling lives and interacting authentically in their relationships and their communities.

In addition to a Masters degree
in Social Work, I have earned certification in Trauma and Corporate counseling.

Phone: 608-233-7431 X 2
OR Email me
(Use Email For Non-Emergencies Only)

Quarry Arts Building
715 Hill Street, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53705
(Across Hill St. from Whole Foods just off University Avenue)

The Quarry Arts Building is beautiful private and comfortable setting conducive to healing and creativity.

Please call: 608-233-7431 X #2

You can also email directly using this link for non-emergencies:
Email me

Appointments are generally scheduled Monday through Friday including evening times. Weekend appointments can be specially scheduled

Many insurance companies as well as medicare are accepted.

If you wish to pay out-of-pocket, I offer an arrangement in which you pay at the time of service with a discount. Other fee arrangements can be discussed at the time of appointment. Credit card payments can be made.



Quarry Arts Building, 715 Hill Street Suite 200

Office Pic

By Pamela Phillips Olson, MSW

The office found me before I knew I needed space. After my meditation class, I would walk into the octagonal room next door. It was empty and awaiting an occupant. Soon I felt drawn to imagine how I might use it. I sensed that elders, children, couples, and individuals from diverse backgrounds and ways of life would all be comfortable there. I knew I could design it to ensure that the beauty and energy of the space would welcome all.

After being tentative, courage came, and I took the plunge, setting forth to create a healing place.

I believe that creativity and healing are closely linked. In order to heal we need to transform painful stories into strength and wisdom. To do such deeply personal work requires a place of security and calm, as well as evocative energy.

Even before I signed the lease, I took a symbolic first step. I bought a silk pillow from a Hmong craftswoman. Its major color was a deep plum, but it contained a multitude of other vibrant colors. The design was of such complexity that it resembled a soft mandala. No matter how long you stare at it, it does not lose its  appeal. It was from this elegant square that the other elements grew.

In feng shui earth is symbolized by square and heaven by round shapes. When these come together, a universal state of balance and harmony is said to exist. The octagonal shape seems to possess elements of both shapes, which might explain the compelling need I felt to keep returning to the room.

In creating a space for healing, you have the freedom and responsibility to design it so it resonates with your personal energy. But the space also needs objects that appeal to many.

My clients’ comfort is very important and so I wanted to find the perfect couch. I favor three-cushioned couches because of the space couples need when they are discussing heated subjects. Three cushions are also ideal for playing board games with children, and are perfect for working with families.

I searched and finally found a curved, three-cushioned, purple couch. I thought it was perfect, because its curved shape would nestle it comfortably within the angled walls.

The morning it was delivered, the movers tried everything. Nothing would work. It wouldn’t fit because the curvature took up too much space. It had to be returned.

I walked home feeling devastated. I met some neighbors along the way and told them what had transpired. There was a newcomer to my neighborhood, Michelle Guilette, who listened with sympathy. She told me she was a newly retired interior designer and that she would love to help! The challenge of an octagon appealed to her.

Her kind offer as well as finding a couch that fit encouraged me.

Michelle and I spent time in the space, and my new office became a shared vision. Here is part of her concept statement:

“The unique octagonal shaped office offered panoramic         views of the neighborhood’s rich foliage. Pam knew this     would promote a calm and healing environment to her     clients.

The approximately 182 square foot space is designed to     accommodate comfortable seating for adults as well as casual   seating and interactive play area for children. Most of the     client seating is designed to be movable to create a relaxed     and untroubled environment for each individual session.
The color palette features a tranquil periwinkle blue with     splashes of plum, burnt orange, and natural woods to     welcome all patients irrespective of age into a peaceful and     safe place.” 

Michelle’s quick eye and confidence gave me the courage to take risks with color and texture. When we shopped it seemed that things were waiting to be discovered. There were some leaps of faith, but it all worked well—just as she said it would. When I protested, “Orange? Burnt orange?” she replied, “Trust me.” And she was right.

I felt a huge responsibility to create a calm setting so people would be able to connect with their inner selves. Across from the couch are a table and two comfortable chairs. On the table is a beautiful lamp, and there are other objects inviting the eyes to rest. The chairs sometimes take on a symbolic function, evoking the presence of people important in the mind and heart.

On one windowsill there is a sand-casting of an ancient menorah. It symbolizes light and hope and belief rewarded. Across from the couch is a sculpture of a woman leaning out her window while singing and playing an accordion. Having found her authentic voice, she seems to be a transcender of hard times.

And of course there are the eight windows displaying the shifting moods of treetops and light. When the weather becomes too distracting, shades adjust the climate within the room.

Above the couch where I can glance is a poster of a painting by Milton Avery, “The Conversation.”  My companion through twenty-five years of work, it depicts two women talking, one holding an envelope. I love its muted colors, the soft solidity of the women, and the suggestion that the envelope contains a secret as yet unopened, but about to be revealed. In essence, the picture is about my work. Once it was hung, I truly felt that the office was home.

For children the office is a grand surprise. They are taken aback by its angles and the fact that it seems like a turret room in a castle. Plus there are plenty of toys readily accessible—a dollhouse, art supplies, hats, wands, a microscope and bug collection, stuffed animals, puppets, and a tornado in a jar! Children are free in this space to “run the show,” and from their freedom and choices, we become partners in unfolding their feelings and thoughts.

Adults have also been known to pick up the tornado or a stuffed animal. When this happens, I take joy in their safety and trust.

I never had a room where I have felt more at home than in my octagon.

The reviews have been gratifying. One little girl said, “Mommy, I’ve never been in such a beautiful room!”  An elderly client said, “Pam, I could never talk about bad or sad things in a room this lovely.” (But her comfort soon allowed her to tell about a recent harrowing event in her life.)

The most surprising comments came from a man who is usually quite dour and negative. He interrupted his recounting of a truly miserable week with comments like, “This is a really nice office!”  At the end of our session he said, “Don’t move again. We need to stay here.”

 And we will.  

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