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4 Coping Skills to Practice When Your Therapist Is on Vacation

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Your therapist tells you she is taking a two week vacation. You think it won’t be that bad, but then she tells you that because she’s coming back on a Wednesday and you usually come on Tuesdays, you’re really going to be missing three weeks of therapy. You sit there in her office, in your place of security, in complete shock. What are you going to do?

This exact scenario happened to me this past month.

I have been seeing my current therapist for almost three years now. She knows me more than I know myself. She has seen me at my best, she has seen me at my worst. She has seen me in times when I was thriving and she has seen me when all I wanted to do was go to sleep forever. Needless to say, I rely on her a lot. I am extremely attached to her — some may say almost too attached to her.

And now I wasn’t going to see her for three weeks.

It may seem silly to say, but those few weeks felt like years. I was trying to tell myself I was OK, that I could do it without her. Some days I felt confident, like I never needed a therapist in the first place. But then there were the bad days, the days that overpowered the confident ones. They were the days when all I wanted to do was cry. I felt so alone. I knew I had no one to turn to. Yes I had friends, but without my therapist I felt like I was on my own. I knew she still existed, I knew she still cared about me. But with me, if someone is not physically there telling me that it’ll all be OK, then I don’t honestly believe it to be true.

Therapists deserve vacations. They deserve to take time for themselves, because the nature of their work can be very emotionally taxing.

Here are a few things to get you through your therapist’s vacation:

1. Surround yourself with friends.

Friends are not therapists but, if you surround yourself with good people, they can really help you in times of distress. Have someone you can call — whether it be to go to Starbucks for coffee or just for a drive. Being physically alone is often not a good idea when you feel like you are in crisis.

2. Take up a new hobby!

If your friends are not available, having something to do when you feel down is golden. One example you can try is picking up an adult coloring book! That may seem childish, but they are targeted towards adults — with intricate designs that can keep you busy for hours. Indulge and buy yourself some fancy markers too. You won’t regret it.

3. Watch funny Youtube videos!

Even when I am really sad, I can’t help but laugh while watching “The Ellen Show.” That’s only one example. Find something you like and go with it.

4. Write down your feelings.

Pretend you are talking to your therapist. If you are in a crisis, write down what is bothering you and prepare to bring it to your next session. Sometimes this can help alleviate the feelings of loneliness.

It seems so difficult — I know it firsthand — but it is indeed possible to get through a period without your therapist. But if you have the right tools, you will make it out on the other side unscathed.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via Dragonimages.

Originally published: August 28, 2017
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