As of June 21st, 2022 it’s officially summer in the northern hemisphere. That means school is finished and many people are going to start taking vacations from work.If you’re a therapist or a client what does this mean for you? Well, therapists are people too, so likely your therapist has some vacation time planned this summer. I’ve compiled a list of tips below to ensure that therapists get a needed and well deserved vacation while their clients remain safe and feel supported.
1. Tell your clients that you’re taking vacation
- This may sound simple but I think that some professionals worry that if they tell their clients they’re taking time off it will upset them.
- I think that the more lead time and warning you give your clients the more they can prepare
- You can also incorporate safety planning for when you’ll be away into sessions.
2. Don’t check your phone, e-mail or social media on vacation
- A vacation is exactly that - a vacation!
- Put an alert on your social media that if you don’t response or post for a while it’s because you’re on vacation - I wouldn’t state exact dates as that creates a safety issue.
- Put an out of office alert on your e-mail and your voicemail for the dates you’re away and indicate when people can expect a response, i.e. “I’m away from the office from July 1st to July 5th and I will respond to your message when I return to the office on July 6th”.
- Create these boundaries and stick to them! This is good modelling for your clients of how to do this. They need to know that you have boundaries and expect them to be respected.
3. Give clients resources they can contact in an emergency
- Put a message on your out of office e-mail and voicemail that instructs people to call 911 if they are experiencing a mental health emergency.
- Give them numbers of local or provincial distress lines that they can contact on a separate page on your website
4. What happens if you’re away for an extended period??
- Personally I tend to only take 1 to 2 weeks of vacation at a time. I think it’s reasonable to expect that clients will be alright during this time, especially if you’re only seeing them bi-weekly.
- If you’re away for 3 weeks or more and you’re in a group practice I presume you can get one of your colleagues to agree to take on clients on an emergency basis.If you’re in a solo practice like myself I’m not sure about the answer to this.
- I’ll be curious about what others do when I post this question on social media. If you’re reading and have a suggestion please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on my facebook page or instagram (links at the top right hand corner of the website).