12 Do’s and Don’ts When Your Therapist is Away

It happens at least once a year, well maybe more than once.  It always falls around a holiday or an anniversary. You prepare for weeks, but alas it’s here. Your therapist is on vacation. As much as we hate to admit it we feel jealous that our therapist gets to take a break from their life but we never get to escape ours. Vacations are especially difficult for trauma survivors because our therapist might be the only thing that we feel a connection to and the only one who truly “gets us”. But we sometimes feel that maybe they are going away and never coming back. While they are away we feel very alone; somewhat of a feeling flashback. When my therapist is away we feel that bad things can happen to us. As a child we always knew “vacation” as a scary word. But this is a list of things that we do. And also a list of things that we did but don’t want you to do.

DO’S

• Make a list of what you have accomplished in therapy.

•Make plans with friends or family to do fun activities. 

•Use positive affirmations.

•Ask your therapist to tape-record a message that you can listen to while they are away and also in between sessions. (If you have flashbacks; listen to it then also, sometimes hearing a supportive voice can help and be grounding.)

•Find other way to have “therapy”; retail therapy, safe online forums.

•Exercise; doesn’t have to mean extreme cardio but maybe just a walk.

•Make a crisis plan for while the therapist is away. (We use our triangle of choices!)

DON’TS

• Stop your life just because your therapist is away.

•Call your therapists voicemail a million times. They probably have caller-ID.  (Call for emergencies only)

•Go to their office to see if they are truly on vacation because you think they are just avoiding you. Most likely when therapists say they are going on vacation they do go.

•Don’t self harm just for spite. You’re only hurting yourself and your therapeutic work.

•Talk smack about your therapist because they took a vacation. Therapists are people too, even though we like to not think so.

Hopefully this list will help you navigate through a therapeutic break while your therapist is on vacation. If you have any additional ideas that I could add to this I would always appreciate it.(Just add it in the comments.) As I am always trying to add to my list because my therapist goes on vacation a lot. But to survivors whose therapists are approaching their vacation time use this list to help you. And after all this time is a small taste of what life without therapy is like (as much as I hate to write that.) We won’t be in therapy forever. But show yourself that you can survive a few weeks without your therapist. The truth is our therapy isn’t about our therapist; it’s us that make therapy possible. Good Luck!

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3 thoughts on “12 Do’s and Don’ts When Your Therapist is Away

  1. Wow I stumbled on this board while I was preparing to finish my a set of finals at BU’s School of Social Work. It’s so important that clients and therapists are on the same page during periods of transition and change. I will post this in the work room at the center where I’m interning.

  2. Hey Stephanie,

    Thankyou, I think thats awesome that your gona post this in the workroom where you are interning. Multiples have alot to offer the world esp in psychology. We have very different unique views that can may help clinicians.

    Good luck on your finals

    Hope

  3. I stumbled upon your blog today and I am so glad I did. I am in therapy right now to overcome a trauma that I experienced a month ago and my therapist is on vacation this week. This is a great post. I totally relate to feeling lost without her and having that persistent nagging question inside of me of will she come back? In addition to my recent trauma, I have 32 years of baggage weighing me down as up until now I haven’t found anyone I felt comfortable with or connected to enough to let it out. The tips you give on here are great. I really like the idea of a recorded message from my therapist that I can use when she is on vacation or even in between sessions if I am having a really tough week. I am definitely going to speak with her about it at our next session.

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