What a difference two months makes.
The photo on the left was taken Feb. 12 in my therapy office in San Diego. The one on the right is from April 24. I stopped seeing clients in person March 12. I moved out of my office permanently May 9. For the time being, I am now an online-only therapist seeing clients from my home.
I loved my office. I LOVED my office. After moving in a year and a half ago, I wanted to spend all of my time there. It was my biggest creative project ever, and I never took it for granted.
It was a joy to create a space I hoped would feel safe and comfortable for my clients. A friend said being in my office felt like relaxing in a garden. To me it was like being immersed in an underwater oasis – all blues and teals.
I loved it.
And then the pandemic hit. About a month later, a colleague mentioned she was looking for a full-time office space to conduct online therapy sessions — having roommates and a cat wasn't conducive to her home office. Even though I haven’t known this friend very long, I immediately realized she would love my space. It was meant for her, and offering it to her seemed like the best thing to do.
It also seemed like the worst thing to do. Another part was very much like: “What?!?! Why would you do that? You love your space. You've worked so hard for it." There were tears, there were consultations, there were responses during those consultations that looked like this:
Them: Well, it sounds like you’ve already made up your mind about your office...
Me: Yes, I think you’re right but, Noooooooo!!!!!
I allowed myself to grieve and let go, and it was all because of these reasons:
My therapy couches went to a good friend, and they now look spiffy at her place. I know she will respect all of the emotional hard work that happened on those sticks of furniture.
And that’s all that my office was in the end – couches, lamps, artwork, tea kettle, teddy bear. Now I have lots of cool stuff I get to enjoy in my home, in a different context.
There is one thing that hasn't changed. Early on in the quarantine when my clients and I first started meeting online, I reminded them that they were still them and I was still me. The most important part of therapy – our relationship – remained intact. Nothing will ever change that.
I may decide to have an office space again one day. Or maybe I’ll meet with clients occasionally in the park for walk-and-talk sessions if and when it’s safe to do so.
In the meantime, I’ve been able to do some good work online – even EMDR reprocessing has been effective over video, much to my happy surprise.
As a friend advised me when I was making my decision whether or not to keep my office, right now it’s important to have the ability to adapt. It feels strange not being able to make plans for the future of my life or my business because no one knows what the future holds. But we we're all trying our hardest and making decisions with the information we have on hand at the time. It’s the best we can do.
Rachel Moore, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapy in San Diego, CA. Rachel helps writers, artists, musicians, and other creative types overcome anxiety, trauma, and depression. She is trained in EMDR therapy.