Critical Therapy Center’s main office has moved as of November 1st, to 244 Fifth Avenue, just two blocs away from our old offices. Two blocks away, yet for me, those two streets felt like a world away.
Moving during a pandemic is strange, especially since the move was precipitated by the novel coronavirus. Our landlord, unable to sustain the cost of maintaining the offices, decided to move out of the building (in turn our landlord is leasing from another landlord). This move highlights how much Midtown Manhattan, and the world has changed. It also highlights our need to adapt with the times.
When I left my office, at the end of March, it was evening. I took a few things, not imagining that I would never return to this office to work inside it, ever again. This office, our office – the room that for the past 8 years has hosted my patients and coworkers, is gone. Within this particular room, I’ve heard countless stories of pain, laughter, shame, and fear. It was from this room that we later expanded to more rooms/offices on our floor. It was here that we grew from an idea, to a theory, to a Center, to a community of outstanding clinicians.
Coronavirus is challenging and changing the way we think and understand work, work spaces and telecommuting. It is also challenging our healthcare system, our economic and political system. It is taken so much away from our old life. At times, it is devastating. However, it is also an opportunity to rebuild something new, to think outside old paradigms, to imagine different worlds.
Coronavirus is also changing how psychotherapy is and will be conducted in the future. Virtual and phone sessions are our new norm for now. What will the “return” to in-person therapy look like? Change is inevitable, the more we fight it, the more disappointed we will be. In terms of psychotherapy, which requires ingredients such as: transference, a deep analysis of power, and an intimate relationship, the need for in-person sessions will always be there. There is something very raw and vulnerable about two people (or more) meeting in a room to discuss intimate issues. And, I am also cognizant that video, phones and apps are going to be integrated within our models of care. As people are working more and more remotely, we, as therapists need to adjust. Together with my fellow clinicians we are discussing, the use of technology in our practice. We are also thinking of opening more office at different locations throughout New York (similar to the one in Queens), so we can be more accessible to folks working from home.
I have to admit that at first the move disturbed me. Eager to return to my old routine, I failed to see that the world has changed. I was so attached to how things were, that at first, I refused to move forward, or to use this opportunity to change. We often think in binary terms, of this or that, rather than the unimagined. We are afraid to take risks, to fail. Yet, innovation is born out of trial and error. If we want psychotherapy to be available to everyone, to change with the times, we have to think outside old paradigms. And so, as we packed our offices on the 10th floor at 286, we moved to 244 Fifth Avenue. With anticipation and nervousness towards the future, I embrace this new chapter in our history.
I am deeply grateful to my coworkers for their continued support, and am especially grateful to Sherrie Waller and Michael Madormo, without whom this move would not have been possible. The move also showed me that the heart of a community, is not found in physical spaces, but in its people. I thank all of you, patients, friends, and supporters, as I look forward to imagining our future together. I also invite you to share with us your thoughts about the future of psychotherapy, including your thoughts on having offices throughout the city, rather than a big hub in Midtown Manhattan.