In May of 2017 SF State Professor Marin S. Linder and alumnus Christopher Morlock have been named as the Inventors on United States Design Patents for the Alliance project. Herman Miller Inc. is the patents assignee. The Alliance project encompasses research, discovery, and product innovation for patients and therapists in Mental Health Hospitals.
The Alliance research establishes that the incorporation of design features that enhance the sending, receiving, and interpreting of nonverbal communication leads to increased patient therapist alliance resulting in improved mental healthcare therapeutic outcomes. The Alliance furniture reduces visual noise, establishes optimal distance and angle between patient and therapist, and provides optimal mutual gaze allowing for deeper processing of patient insights. The furniture enhances gesticulation ranges resulting in improved non-verbal communication between patient and therapist, establishes postural congruence resulting in improved therapeutic alliance, and provides empathetic opportunities for the patient during moments of grief. In addition, innovative design features reduce the distribution of pathogens, provide a psychologically soothing tactile experience for patients, and is designed within a non-threatening visual language.
The work of the Alliance Project has been presented to leading Behavioral Healthcare experts including Kaiser’s Behavioral Healthcare Design Analysis Group, has been selected for use in the Behavioral Health Clinic at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute in Salt Lake City where it is involved in an ongoing study.