The Best Time for Therapy Is When You Feel Good. Spoiler Alert: Summer.
MYTH: Therapy is reserved for when you’re really struggling or is only for really ‘messed up’ folks.
Of course, therapists always want to support someone who is struggling, no matter what their challenge may be.
But therapy can help even if you are just looking to better your life. Therapy can improve your relationships, your parenting, and benefit you professionally. The truth is, it is genius to work on the hard stuff when you’re doing well. And, in general, people tend to feel more relaxed in the summer. Therefore, it makes sense to attend therapy when you have the time to really focus on it…like in the summer.
Let me tell you a personal story from my perspective as a human and a seasoned therapist.
In graduate school, we were required to be in bi-weekly counseling. Rain or shine, good or bad. We had to keep going. Even on the weeks when we were doing really well. On the weeks I felt I could really use the session, I was glad that I’d had scheduled a time for therapy. During those weeks, I really noticed the progress I made. But, they were NOT the weeks I worked on resolving my absolute most challenging stuff.
On the other hand, there were some weeks I was annoyed that I was required to go. I felt awesome and it was 80 degrees and sunny. During those weeks I rolled in and said; “What the heck, maybe we can work on some of the big stuff just a little, after all, there’s nothing else to talk about.
By the end of those sessions, I often shared the things I had never said out loud. Or, found words for something that on other weeks baffled me. I found that going to therapy when I felt great and it was beautiful outside was when I made the most progress personally. These weeks were like next-level therapy. Instead of therapy being about addressing my short-term issues, I was able to use the good days to level up my well-being.
In the summer, most people are outside more.
When the weather is nice, we’re more active. We’re also more social, more creative, more playful, and do more things that are out of our routine. All of these things come with being less in our heads and more open to experiences. In fact, there’s a big push for getting outside more in big tech companies. And, even in some more mainstream corporate jobs. We are seeing anecdotally and through science, that alternating play, rest, and work is the most satisfying and effective way to level up in our lives. It is the process by which we are most likely to wake up sincerely at peace with our loves.
I love science. I love it, even more, when science meets mental health and shows how the brain functions. So, I took some time to include some quality links to more information about how summer can improve our likelihood to make swift and powerful gains in counseling.
Summer Therapy Finding #1: Sunshine, Serotonin and Mental Health
In case you don’t want to read this full article, here is a very brief summary: Clinical neuroscience that shows serotonin level increases in the summer. This decreases anxiety and other mental health struggles. Basically, the increased sunshine changes how our brain works for the better. When we are in these elevated states (less anxiety and struggle) the quality of our thoughts is better. This means that you have more thoughts that are helpful without trying. It is just what happens because you feel better.
Summer Therapy Finding #2: Travel Makes Your Brain Work Better
This article is a summary of gains we get from travel specifically. Since summer is when people do the most traveling, it seems on point. We know that even the anticipation of travel can incite more optimistic and reliant thinking. When you come to anxiety counseling and are anticipating a big trip or just returning home, you are starting from a higher baseline. That means the gains you make are already elevated. You won’t have to spend sessions getting back to your normal. You’ll gain even more when you start from a higher rung on the ladder.
Summer Therapy Finding #3: Playing as adults increase our ability to change habits and think in new ways.
I loved this article because it quite clinically and clearly correlates the need for true play in adults. Especially to better their long-term and continued emotional and psychological development. In short, we do not want to deal with 40-year-old parenting or career challenges without 18-year skills. In order for us to be ever-evolving and getting our brains to function better, we need play. This quote about playing as adults:
“(play) provide(s) an opportunity to develop flexible behavioral strategies when novel and uncertain situations arise as an adult.”
Flexibility in novel situations is the definition of resilience. It is the way we make lemonade from lemons, build empires, let go of painful habits and get what we really want. We generally do our best playing in the summer.
As a therapist, I would like to speak to play for a moment here.
Play as we are talking about it here is solely for fun’s sake, it accomplishes nothing. That means a workout class or some other version of what grown-up want to pretend is play doesn’t count. If you feel like you did a good job (or a bad job) after, it was not play. You can consider it play if you can say, that was fun after. I encourage you to always find playful things you love doing and lighten up, even as an adult.
Summary of summer and therapy fun & games.
Use the summer to level up your life game by going to counseling when your cup is full.
Don’t take the summer off or wait for fall when you are more stressed to start therapy. Go to your counselor when you are sun-baked and rested. I promise you it will get you something you can’t get when you show up exhausted and anxious.
What I am saying is; in the summer you will have to put less effort into optimizing your thoughts and feelings for your best life and you could make more gains than in times when you arrive in distress.
This is a no-brainer. I look forward to seeing your tank tops and flip-flops in my office.
Are you ready to focus on your mental health this summer?
If this speaks to you, I encourage you to take that next step and make an appointment to speak to a therapist this summer. Perhaps, part of you is hoping this summer can be one of transformation and personal growth even though you’re not in “crisis” mode, so listen to your instinct to move toward personal growth.
If you live in Colorado, the North Boulder Counseling therapists would love to help. We’re a Boulder, CO based counseling practice and we also offer online counseling, so we can actually see people located anywhere in Colorado! So, whether you’re in Denver, Colorado Springs, or enjoying the beauty of Estes Park we can support you. The first step is to contact North Boulder Counseling and request to be matched with a therapist.
But what kind of things can therapy really help with?
Truthfully, every single person’s time in counseling is completely different! So, you’re in control of what is covered in counseling sessions. At North Boulder Counseling, we are proud to have mental health clinicians who can help with a wide range of, mental health services. Whether you’re feeling depressed, have felt anxious about something specific for years, are struggling with self-esteem issues, have ADD/ADHD or just want to feel more grounded in your life we can help. Furthermore, we can help all members of your family including children, teens, men & women. Wherever you are on your mental health journey, we’re here to provide support. It’s time to live the life you want, so please make this summer the time you start taking steps toward your goals!
It’s time to really make the most of your summer & work toward the very best version of yourself.