Could therapy for a teen this summer mean success this coming school year? - WLCFS

Could therapy for a teen this summer mean success this coming school year?


By Katelyn Bolte

As the temperatures slowly rise in the Midwest and the school year draws to an end, parents and teens are anticipating summer. For many families, summer is a welcome break from busy schedules, extracurricular activities, and academic pursuits. “Is it also a good time for my teen to take a break from therapy?” This is a frequent question families ask me and my colleagues at this time of year.

There are several situations that may lead a family to consider terminating therapy over the summer. Scheduled vacations can interfere with regular therapy attendance. Parents may see some of the troubles that their teen struggled with during the school year “disappear” due to a change of schedule, decreased academic pressures, and overall fewer commitments.

While summertime provides a welcomed break from the commitments of a school year, decreased structure and fewer commitments can be problematic for parents and teens. During the school year, teens benefit from interactions with teachers, coaches, and other school professionals on a daily basis. These professionals not only monitor academic progress but also a student’s ability to function effectively day to day. When concerns arise, these professionals come together to support a teen. But what happens when school is out for the summer?

For some families, summer can be an appropriate time to actually increase mental health services for teens who are struggling. THIS summer may be more critical than others to find mental health support for teens. Many are still hurting due to forced isolation and routine disruptions we’ve experienced for two years because of the pandemic.  A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers fresh evidence of the numerous ways that isolation and disruptions have impacted the mental health of teens. According to the report, in 2021, more than a third of high school students said they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“These data echo a cry for help,” said CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental wellbeing.

Research shows that surrounding youth with the proper support can reverse these trends. While summertime often has the connotation of “slowing down,” this summer may be a good time to consider starting or increasing therapy sessions for your adolescent. Therapy in the summer allows a teen the opportunity to proactively address anticipated problems in the coming school year, as well as maintain and improve skills that are needed in a school setting. Summertime additionally offers an opportunity to develop coping skills and engage in challenging mental tasks without the added pressure of school.

Note that there are various levels of therapy depending on needs:

  • Traditional outpatient counseling is typically once per week with a counselor
  • Skills groups can be added to outpatient counseling to help practice and reinforce coping skills
  • Day treatment is more intensive outpatient care for those who need a higher level of treatment to address more acute needs


Benefits of beginning or continuing mental health therapy during the summertime:

We often hear from parents that it is difficult to schedule appointments during the school year due to busy schedules for the entire family. Between work schedules, extracurricular activities, and even a desire to have a “normal night at home,” it’s understandable that therapy can seem like another thing added to an already busy schedule during the school year. Since teens are out of school for the summer, they likely have increased time and availability to participate in therapy.

Therapy is often challenging, so engaging in mental tasks after a full day of school can be draining. As school is not in session during the summer, adolescents likely have more energy to engage in mental tasks while in therapy.

Participating in skills groups or day treatment groups provides teens the opportunity to develop interpersonal communication skills and engage in social situations with other people. This can result in increased social skills for the coming school year.

Finally, ensuring that teens are actively engaged in goal-directed activities during the summer can equip them with the skills they need to be prepared to encounter social and academic challenges in the coming school year.

Christian Family Solutions offers several options for child and adolescent therapy, including individual counseling sessions and groups. Please click the links below for more information.

Wisconsin Programs

Minnesota Programs

To request an appointment, please call 800-438-1772 or click here.

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