A Letter to My Former Clients

2016 was a year of profound change.

In the months before I closed my Northwest Portland psychotherapy office to take a sabbatical from practice, I had the opportunity to work with so many of you on issues ranging from health, work conflicts, and relationships, to life transitions or questions of identity. Some of you lost loved ones. Others struggled with serious medical conditions or health concerns. Many waged brave battle with overwhelming feelings of shame, despair, depression, or fear, or waded deep into the waters of grief, within the four walls of our work together.

I want to say so many things to you. Not least of which, how honored I am to have been a part of your journey. We may have resolved the difficulties you were experiencing when we first met. Or perhaps we did not – at least not entirely. Perhaps we’ve only taken steps in that direction. But rest assured, often the smallest of changes can build in momentum over time: a shift toward self-acceptance. A growing sense of curiosity. The willingness to listen, to acknowledge and explore that which has been ignored for too long. Whether we met for a handful of sessions, or a handful of years, I have been moved by your trust, your perseverance, your courage. I took my role as your psychotherapist very seriously. The work we have done together is a precious thing.

While I engaged in this work with everyone, the work of acceptance and of mindful awareness had its way with me, too. Over the last two years, I’ve gradually remembered my long-lost love for creative pursuits such as writing. Leading up to the recent election, I’ve reconnected with my social justice roots as well. I’ve explored the movement toward integrated medical care – bringing psychologists and primary care providers together to collaborate on mind/body health. I’ve spent the last couple of months reading, writing, resting, reaching out, and sometimes, just hanging with loved ones (and my chickens). It was lovely. It was fruitful. And a little boring, truth be told. But that’s okay. We all could use a little boredom, I think. Some time for reflection.

And now I’m ready to return. There is a quote I found recently: “I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it,” attributed to Pablo Picasso. How do we maintain balance in our lives? How do we protect space for all parts of ourselves? How do we stay connected with others, even in the midst of our own vulnerability? I don’t always know the answers but I do know that I will only learn…by trying. By showing up, and then adjusting as needed.

Thus, I have re-established my practice…a much smaller one this time; more focused, using more active interventions such as skill-building to get individuals back into their own lives, too. I’m maintaining an office part-time, and I’m exploring ways to use my psychological expertise to advocate for and support individuals who might remain under-served. The rest of the time, I’ll write, parent, and look for ways to engage meaningfully in the world.

This letter is meant to explain my winding, evolving transition, so none of you are confused if you see my services promoted again in the Portland-metro area. Many of you were ready to move on last September. Others I’ve helped transfer to a new therapist who will help you enter the next chapter of your work. I wish you all the very best in the coming year.

For those who want to drop in at some future date in order to fine-tune the skills we’ve worked on previously or to engage in focused work, do get in touch. My door is open to you. You can reach me at (503) 367-9488, as always.


Dawnn McWatters, Psy.D.


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