By Angela Dube, LMFT & Marté Matthews, LMFT
In all my years as a therapist I have noticed a distinct trend as to when most people start to seek therapy for their children: Fall, once school starts and late Spring, at the end of the school year. And no wonder, these tend to be stressful times for children and families! The transition of “back to school” and all the pressure at the end of the school year are really difficult challenges. Routines are off, stress is on! Meltdowns become the norm, and the family routine falls apart. During these times of year parents are stressed, which means just when kids have more trouble behaving or completing their responsibilities their parents have less patience to manage them. It’s a messy situation.
However, once summer comes along and things slow down, behaviors and patience get better. Everyone is calmer, and parents shelve the idea of therapy…until Fall that is. When the cycle repeats itself.
Sometimes the best time to start therapy for your child is in the summer. Let me explain why.
Summer can be deceiving. It’s a beautiful time of year with lots of fun activities planned, and long days with less pressure. We are relaxed and happy. We can be easily tricked into believing that all of our issues are over and it is smooth sailing from here. But really the problems exist throughout the year, only they are exacerbated during particularly difficult times. Therefore, summer is the perfect time to work on these issues because we’re relaxed and not in the throes of crisis. In the summer we can be more reflective about our children’s needs, our own emotions, and stressors for each family member. It is a period of calm where skills can be practiced without crisis. All this can set up your child and family for a smoother transition back to school this Fall.
Both families and therapists often have more availability and flexibility in their schedules. This allows for you to be seen at a time that works best for you rather than rushing children from school during rush hour traffic to be seen at dinnertime. This increased flexibility in the schedule gives us time to invest in your family’s well-being and get a little extra support.
Summer camps and other activities throughout the summer may change the family schedule. You may have a vacation planned, or maybe you have family coming in from out of town for a few weeks. The therapists at Child & Family Counseling Group are able to flex their schedules to see kids and families around these wonderful activities.
Fall can be so stressful! Having the support in place before starting the school year can be helpful rather than feel like another thing on the to-do list.
Some of you may be thinking, well, let's just wait and see what happens in the Fall anyway. Things may be better. One thing to keep in mind is that is when therapists get really busy. It may be difficult to find a therapist with availability at that time. Another thing to keep in mind is the old saying: "If you always do what you've always done, you always get what you've always gotten." Let's try something new this time and see if it helps.
So go ahead, give it some thought. Take advantage of the feel-good nature of summer and schedule some additional support for your child and family. Our therapists are here throughout the summer months. You’ll be glad you did this fall.