Ask an Expert Therapist: Should my child take a break from therapy, or start therapy, during the summer?

School can be a major stressor for adolescents.  As a Therapist who specializes in
working with this population,  there are many common struggles that are magnified
when kids are in school. These issues include social stress, poor sleep habits, poor
organization habits, academic demands and the anxiety of academics, sports, and
socializing.

Naturally, these issues become more forefront in therapy from September-June. And
when June rolls around, it’s understandable for parents and kids to think that, since
school is out, the stressors will have lessened or disappeared.


Many parents and kids will ask me if the summer is a good time to take a break from counseling because the summer has a lighter vibe, schedules are less structured, and some of the school
stressors are eliminated for a few months.


Other parents are wondering if the summer is actually a good time to start therapy. They are wondering if now is the time to get a head start on building resiliency, decreasing anxiety, increasing skills to manage hard emotions, set goals and develop organizing habits that will help during the school year.

For some adolescents, it makes sense to take a break from counseling for the summer. Which kids can take a break, and which kids shouldn’t?

For some adolescents, summer ends up being an appropriate time for a break from
counseling. In these cases, the adolescents are 1) Experiencing significant clinical
progress 2) Are thriving socially and emotionally and 3) Are actively using tools
learned in counseling to better manage stress, anxiety and other lower mood states.

Adolescents who should continue with counseling over the summer 1 ) Haven’t
significantly progressed in counseling yet 2) Have just begun with a new counselor
and are still working to maximize the rapport 3) Often have issues that exist outside
of the school setting. In these cases, the adolescents would benefit from continuing
with counseling over the summer to better manage important life skills designed for
year-round use.

For some adolescents, the summer might actually be the best time to start therapy. Here’s why:

Starting therapy over the summer is a wonderful idea. This adds a small weekly
commitment to the schedule of an adolescent who may have an extremely busy schedule come September. Getting acclimated to therapy over the summer allows
adolescents to 1) Get used to the routine of weekly counseling sessions 2) Build an
excellent rapport with their therapist sooner rather than later, increasing the
likelihood that they will open up in confidence if challenges build during the school
year 3) Go into the start of a new school year feeling up-lifted as they’ve been
working on their challenges and building skills to utilize in all stressful situations.

All in all, Summer vacation is a beautiful thing and a well-deserved break for
everyone. However, year after year it comes to an abrupt end in September (maybe
even in July when you see the back to school supplies hit Target). It’s possible that
the same stressors adolescents were managing from the year before could be just as
prevalent when they return to school. If they haven’t been practicing the skills they
have learned in counseling, they could be pretty rusty.


This is just like taking a break from exercise for 3 months- isn’t it hard to get started again?
That first trip back to the gym – rough, painful, and unconditioned. The same concept applies to all of the stressors that come with school for adolescents. It’s likely that those same stressors can come back just as strong, and it’s so important to be prepared with a routine of tools and skills to face them if they do.

If your child struggles with any school-related stressors like the ones listed above,
over the summer is when tools can be practiced without simultaneously having a
stress response. Practicing tools and coping skills when you aren’t stressed is the
best way to build them over time and make them a routine part of your life. This
makes the tools easier to reach for when the stress happens during the school year!
Time to consider summer not only a beautiful time to hit the beach, but a beautiful
time to progress mentally. Spend the summer building both sand castles and a
coping skills toolbox! 

Erin Werner, LMHC, is a therapist at POSITIVE ENERGY Holistic Counseling & Institute who specializes in working with Adolescents and Young Adults. She’s superb at building rapport with young people, while also teaching them the skills and tools that they need for lifetime of success and happiness. To schedule an appointment for your adolescent, teen, or 20-something, call 631-533-0708 or email info@positivecounselingli.com.

Beth Miller, LCSW-R, CEC, CAHC is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Life Coach, energy healer, meditation teacher, and spiritual counselor in private practice in Bayport, Long Island, New York, USA. She is the owner of the group practice POSITIVE ENERGY Holistic Counseling & Institute where she and her fabulous team of therapists use the breakthrough model Advanced Holistic Counseling & Coaching™ to create transformational change in their clients. Beth is the creator of the trademarked Advanced Holistic Counseling & Coaching™: Modern therapy that combines the very best of traditional psychotherapy with life coaching, energy healing, science, and spirituality. Now, Licensed Therapists, Healers, and Coaches can learn how to experience huge transformation in themselves, their clients, and their careers by becoming Certified in Advanced Holistic Counseling & Coaching™.  For free holistic and psychotherapy tools, visit the POSITIVE ENERGY Holistic Counseling & Institute YouTube channel, or contact us directly via phone at 631-533-0708 or email at info@positivecounselingli.com.