Archive of ‘Wellness’ category

Four Tips for Making the Most Out of Breaks in Therapy

journaling during a break in therapy

Many occasions can lead to a break in therapy – anything from a planned vacation or change in schedule to a sudden health emergency or change in circumstance. These breaks can be planned or unplanned, initiated by either the client or by the therapist, and they can be welcome or unwelcome. No matter the circumstances, these breaks can also be opportunities for continued growth and increased self-awareness. If you find yourself facing a current or upcoming break in therapy, here are four tips to make the most of it:

Dedicate the time

Breaks can be opportunities to slow down and focus on yourself and your relationships. They are opportunities to put into practice some of the discoveries made in therapy, and to try turning to other coping strategies and social support outside the therapist’s office. Dedicate the hour or hours you may have otherwise scheduled for therapy to yourself in other ways: take yourself on a walk or schedule coffee with an old friend.

Take note

Breaks can also be opportunities to step back, observe, and assess. It can be helpful to keep a journal during this time, and to bring your observations with you when you return to therapy. Some potential questions to consider journaling about: Did anything come up for you in your time away that you would have otherwise brought to therapy? If so, how did you manage it? What has changed since the start of therapy (or since your last break)? How have you grown? What’s needed moving forward?

Talk about it

Breaks can bring up feelings around loss and separation, both in the therapeutic relationship and in your relationships outside of therapy. In the session before the break, discuss with your therapist any feelings that come up around the upcoming break, and also put together a plan for how best to cope in the time away. Upon your return, you can reflect together on the experience and any insight gained.

Reach out

Reach out for additional support as needed. For longer and unexpected breaks, consider scheduling short-term support with another therapist or reaching out to a warm line. You don’t need to wait for a crisis to reach out for help. If you do find yourself stuck or struggling, don’t hesitate to call a crisis help line like 988.

YWCA’s Non-Crisis Warm Line: 512-548-9922

Integral Care’s 24/7 Crisis Help Line: 512-472-4357

or call Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988


What is Self-Care? What do Therapists do for Self-Care?

I’ve been hearing a lot recently about “self-care,” and that we should all be “practicing more self-care.” But what if you don’t even know what “self-care” means? What if you keep hearing about “self-care” and all that comes to mind is bubble baths and retail therapy? What if you know what self care is supposed to be, but you have trouble actually figuring it out for yourself? 

First, I’ll give you some ideas of what self-care is vs what it isn’t. Second, I’ve decided to have some fun and ask the therapists at Austin Family Counseling what THEY do for self-care, and it may help give some insight into what self-care can look like for you!

First, what Self-Care ISN’T:

  • Indulging in or bingeing your favorite things every now and then just to check off the “self-care” box
  • An instant fix for all of your problems
  • The same for everyone

Now, what Self-Care IS:

  • An individual way for you to fill your needs that haven’t been met
  • It can be quite challenging
  • Really, really different from person to person, or even for the same person at various points in time
  • Read Julie’s 2019 blog about the 5 categories of self-care: https://austinfamilycounseling.com/5-categories-of-selfcare/

Second… What Do Austin Family Counseling Therapists Do for Self-Care?

I asked AFC therapists what they do for self-care. Here are some of their responses…

Kaity (Blog Author) said “I typically stream shows and movies, eat chocolate, play video games, and go on nature walks for my self-care. I’m also adamant about getting as close to eight hours of sleep per night as I can and being mindful of my hydration.”

Lora said “Every two weeks I go in for a massage and dry sauna treatment, and during really tender seasons in my life, I go weekly! I use it as time to meditate, rest, relax, and replenish.”

Mike said “I wake up early and go for a walk (when it’s not so hot outside). I try to make sure I take breaks (e.g., I don’t walk on the weekends). I am kind to myself when I don’t eat as healthy as I’d like. I say, ‘you’ve been working really hard to eat healthy, and you don’t need to be perfect at this or anything.’ I listen to a meditation before (or as) I go to sleep. I make sure I read books that are just for fun.”

Emily said “I make an effort to incorporate meditation and yoga, even if it is only 5 or 10 minutes, as a part of my daily routine knowing that it helps keep me grounded and connected.”

Catherine M. said “I like to disconnect myself from the internet and connect with nature by taking walks.  I engage myself in mindful playing with my son, and I take Epsom Salt baths to help me relax and detox.”

Sumaya said “Hot showers or bubble baths with candles lit; surrounding myself with my family and friends including food and boardgames; being outside with nature in my hammock, near or in water, and taking an evening walk.”

Janet said “For self-care, I like to go on walks and listen to a podcast. This gives me time outside, doing something physical and listening to something I enjoy. I also look forward to easy mornings on weekends with my family; we all enjoy those moments of a slower pace.”

Sara said “I love taking hot showers, snuggling my dogs, weightlifting at the gym, sleeping in when I’m feeling worn down, and having fun with my friends and fiancé on the weekends. I also love getting my nails done every 2-3 weeks! It’s a fun creative outlet for me – I love all things glam and it taps into that. It’s also a great reason for me to sit for an hour with no phone, no conversation, and no expectations of productivity.”

Final Impressions

As you can see, our therapists have a wide range of activities they do to help with their self-care. Some of their self-care activities are more outdoor- or indoor-oriented, some are long, some are short, some are very individual, some involve socializing with other people, but they are all helpful to us in our own unique ways. 

If you are interested in finding ways to increase your own self-care, talk to your therapist or reach out to get on our schedule at [email protected] | 512-298-3381.


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.  


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