I used to hate when my therapist would go on vacation. It disrupted my routine and familiarity of our weekly sessions. I felt like I had to keep everything in until they returned. I became fearful my recovery would go down the tube as if they were the one that magically kept it all together. At times, I felt a little abandoned. Funny though, I didn’t really think this way when I was the one going on vacation. I know not all clients feel this way, but I was one of the one’s who did. The ironies and insights of now being a therapist, as well as having grown as a person and in recovery. Here’s why your therapist going on vacation is a good thing:
- It Models Self-Care. Therapy is hard work. Breaks allow both parties to return refreshed and re-focused. By going on vacation, l am also modelling self-care to my clients. Just as I have needs, so do you and it is okay to meet them.
- It Breaks Patterns. I think it is healthy for clients to feel a little planned chaos every now and then. All to often it is easy to fall into patterns and routines that do not address current or future needs. By entering planned chaos, one can learn how to navigate these times a little more successfully, giving one a foundation for when they occur without warning. Maybe this time is a good time to try knock off some of those items on your bucket list you've been meaning to get to. Don't just sit back counting down the days, try doing some safe activities to help pass them time as well as engages you in life.
- Assesses and Puts Into Use Other Available Resources. It is important to have a variety of resources established within one’s recovery. No single person is the key that will make or break one’s recovery. Each has a part to contribute and play. When one resources is not available, it is important to know who else is available for support. You also don’t have to keep everything in when your therapist goes away. Talk with a friend or fellow support group member. Call a distress line if need be. Sure it may not be the same, but it can be good enough in the interim. Remember, It is important to not throw all your eggs in one basket.
- Assesses Strengths and Weaknesses. Vacations can be viewed as ‘test runs’. It allows for clients to see which areas they have progressed in, and which areas need a little more attention. However it goes, It is all information that will aid in strengthening your recovery.
- Opportunity to Build Self-Trust. This is a big one. It is important, along the way, to build self-trust in your recovery. To know and realize, you have the ability and skills to tolerate your emotions and get through the situation as best you can. If we are never put into situations that foster self-trust and confidence, it is hard to fully believe and know YOU CAN DO IT!
- Challenges Abandonment and Reaffirms Object Constancy. Remember the peek-a-boo game. Really young children have difficulty knowing that you are still there even though they cannot see your face behind your hands. As their brain develops, they start to realize that you are still behind ‘there’ and in fact, aren’t ‘gone’. Just because your therapist goes on vacation, they are still rooting, supporting and caring for you. Just because they are not available, does not mean what they represent disappears as well. Unless something tragic happens, therapists return from vacation, challenging in smalls ways, the thoughts/feelings of abandonment.
So, this time when your therapist preps you for their vacation, check in with your feelings. Remember that you can tolerate whatever uncomfortable feelings that arise, and remind yourselfthat it can be opportunity for skill building and implementation. You will get through it :)