Archive of ‘Counseling’ category

Saying Goodbye: 3 Important Reasons for Closing Sessions in Therapy 

Summer break is only a few weeks away! That means summer camps, traveling, and taking a much-needed break from the business of school is on the horizon for many students. In the therapy world there is a tendency for clients, and clients’ parents, to pause or stop therapy all together during this season for many valid reasons. Sometimes clients have hectic travel plans in which weekly or biweekly therapy won’t fit into their schedules; parents want their children to take a break from the usual hustle and bustle of after school activities which includes therapy; or the therapist and the client have collaboratively decided to stop therapy because session goals were accomplished. Whatever the reason, I find that it is beneficial to take a moment to discuss the importance of closing sessions when pausing or stopping therapy. 

From a therapists’ perspective, I believe it is critical to have ongoing conversations with clients and their parents about goals in therapy because as the goals refined or altered so has the timeline of therapy. It also provides a loose structure for how long treatment can last and when clients and their parents can expect to pause or stop therapy. When both parties are aware and on board about when the last session takes place, it allows the client to process the end of therapy in a healthy way and the therapist is able to focus on how to structure the closing sessions (sessions leading up to the last day of therapy). 

Sometimes, however, therapy can abruptly end, which unfortunately means that clients are not afforded the opportunity to have at least one closing session with their therapist. When I have further investigated reasons for this, one that shows up the most is that parents do not realize how important closing sessions are for their child’s therapeutic journey. 

3 Important Reasons for Closing Sessions: 

  1. Closing sessions acknowledge the hard work that your child has accomplished in therapy. They are provided the safe space and dedicated time to reflect on their journey and be proud of themselves for doing the hard work to get them to where they are currently. 
  2. Therapy in and of itself is a highly emotional process and the time and effort it takes to create a therapeutic relationship with your child is a complex and rewarding feat. So saying goodbye is a way for your child and their therapist to jointly process the amount of trust, rapport, and honesty that has been gradually built up along the way.
  3. As a therapist, it is important to model healthy goodbyes for our clients. When we have at least one closing session with our clients, we are able to show them that while a positive experience is ending for now, they are empowered to continue growing and evolving on their own. A common misconception about therapists is that we want to keep our clients in therapy forever. However that is not the case at all! Instead, what we truly desire is to equip our clients with the tools they need so that when the right time comes they can use the healthy coping mechanisms they learned in therapy out in the real world. 

So if there is anything to take away from this blog, it is to talk to your child’s therapist about goals in session to not only get a sense of what your child is working on, but also to have a rough framework of how long therapy will last. These continued conversations can lead to a smoother transition for pausing or terminating therapy and your child can say goodbye to their therapist equipped with the confidence and self-assurance that they can continue growing on their own.  


Supporting Your Teen Through Applying to College

The college application process is an exciting time for any family. Your child has decided to further their education, consider different career paths, and begin the first stage of their adult life. You are proud of them and simultaneously anxious about the choices they will make. This is one of the most uniquely stressful times in a teenager’s life, and it can be easy for any parent to feed off of their child’s stress and worry about whether they are making the best decisions for their future. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you help your child navigate this transitory time.

Encourage them to seek joy

I recently had a parent session with the father of one of my clients who is a junior in high school. He shared with me that his son’s school counselor looked at his choice sheet for his senior year classes and asked him, “Where is the joy in your schedule?” This is such a beautiful reminder that teenagers need balance. Even though AP and IB classes look great on college applications, you have an amazing opportunity to demonstrate to your child that it is necessary to prioritize their mental health and focus on things that make them happy. Start a conversation with them about their schedule. Be curious about the subjects they are interested in, and take note of the electives, sports, fine arts, etc. that make them come alive. Ultimately, colleges pursue students who jump off the page. GPAs and test scores can make an application stand out, but admissions officers are not looking for robots. They want to see students who have passions and varied interests. Reinforce that your child is human, and this is the time in their life to try new things and decipher what makes them feel joyful.  

Help them prioritize their overall wellness

There are so many things that demand high schoolers’ time and energy. Your child is likely coming home feeling exhausted from balancing assignments, tests, extra-curricular activities, friendships, studying for the ACT or SAT, and completing college applications. This often involves overextending themselves and putting their wellness beneath the things on their to-do list. It can be hard to balance helping your teen stay on top of their responsibilities with inspiring them to care for themselves. Here are some behaviors to look out for that indicate your teen needs help to put themselves first:

  • Irritability 
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping 
  • Appetite changes 
  • Withdrawal
  • Sluggishness 
  • Decreased interest in previously enjoyable activities

Remind your child that they will not be able to perform the way they would like to in their classes or on their standardized tests if they are not regulated, well-rested, well-fed, and well-connected. Most importantly, children learn by example. If they see you prioritizing your wellness, they will follow suit.

Be patient 

There are many moving parts to college applications like login information, resumes, deadlines that vary according to school, recommendation letters, essays, transcripts, and more. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that houses executive functioning, organizational skills, impulse control, and decision making, and it does not fully develop until around age 25. With this in mind, it can be difficult for teenagers to keep track of all the things they need to acquire and submit for their college applications. They will have plenty of questions for you, and they will need your assistance to stay on track. Listen to their concerns, reflect and validate how they feel, and collaborate with them to find solutions to their problems.

Seek professional help

Teens have many things to consider when they apply to college. This process brings up various existential questions like “Who am I?” “What is my passion?” and “What do I want to do with my life?” It is beneficial for teens to have a safe, confidential, and non-judgmental space to address these questions. Meeting with a therapist can empower your child to care for themselves and face this uncertain time confidently. If your child needs support with the logistical aspects of the college application process, here are some referrals for wonderful college counselors in Austin:

Rebecca Putter of Putter Academic and College Experts

Jen Hendricks of Hendricks Education

Kendall Guess of Path to Admissions

Your teen is looking to you for encouragement, support, and guidance through this incredibly turbulent time. Above all else, remember to focus on connecting with them and maintaining a curious disposition as they communicate their interests to you. Trust that they have the skills within them to see this process through and make decisions that align with their values and desires. Additionally, trust that you are capable of pacing them through this time while helping them embrace their autonomy. 


Premarital Counseling: Preparing for a Lifelong Commitment

You put a ring on it, you’ve made it Facebook official, and now planning all the wedding details is in full swing. Marriage is an exciting time; the venue, the décor, the celebration, and the honeymoon! Another key part of making a lifelong commitment is preparing for the future of your relationship. Premarital counseling is an excellent way to launch a lifetime of love. With the guidance of a counselor and a program created for couples, like SYMBIS (Save Your Marriage Before It Starts), you and your partner can create a personalized roadmap for a strong, passionate, and successful relationship. 

Proactive Plan for Succuss

The research supports the positive impact premarital counseling and education have on the future success of a relationship. Getting pre-marriage training helps lower couples’ rate of divorce by 31% and increases marital satisfaction and fulfillment by 30% (Parrott & Parrott, 2019). Being prepared for marriage is about relational readiness and knowing your strengths, growth areas and creating a roadmap that will help support continued strength.

Knowledge is Power

There’s never been a marriage like yours before.

(Les & Leslie Parrott)

Working with a counselor and taking an assessment, like the SYMBIS assessment, helps arm you with personalized details about yourself and your relationship. You and your partner will gain unique insights that you can leverage to support the type of partner you want to be and the kind of relationship you want to have. During premarital counseling, you will explore topics like:

  • Finances and your money management style
  • Personality dynamics
  • Family of origin
  • Conflict style
  • Communication style
  • Values and spirituality
  • Love languages and intimate connection
  • Longings and dreams

Get Started Before the Big Day

Start now to build a foundation that will last a lifetime. Premarital counseling will vary by counselor, but most take approximately 6-8 sessions (spread over about 2-3 months). If you live in Texas, you can qualify for $60 off your marriage license and waive the 72-hr waiting period when you complete an approved premarital training course with a Twogether in Texas facilitator. 

Throughout the process, you and your partner will engage in meaningful dialogue about key topics and issues couples face. Start building a culture of empathy and appreciation that will help you navigate whatever twists and turns the future holds. Then set sail on a lifetime of love!

Parrott, L., & Parrott, L. (2019, February 28). About – symbis assessment.
SYMBIS Assessment. https://www.symbis.com/about/. 


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