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How do you manage a break in therapy?

It’s that time of year. Lots of holidays, weddings, trips away, lots of things that can cause therapy to be disrupted, from either client side or from the therapist.

Often, when this is initiated by the client, it can feel hard, but it’s the client’s choice, which can feel hard, but doable.

It can be particularly challenging if the break is instigated by the therapist, where client does have no choice. When a therapist takes a break, for whatever reason, it can evoke a whole variety of emotions- be them fear, sadness, anger, frustration, panic, to relief, happiness or something else.

This is all really important. All those thoughts and feelings someone has about a therapist taking a break, or needing to rearrange a session, or even if you, the client, needs to rearrange or miss a session, those are all really important. All those thoughts and feelings that come up are all part of the therapeutic process and are opportunities for some really good explorations.

That said, it can feel risky to share how you feel; to say you’re angry that your therapist is taking a break, or to say that you feel rejected or abandoned because s/he is taking a break, or to share whatever you’re feeling. It can be terrifying. But these experiences are really important to therapy and, if you can take the risk, then it will hopefully be something positive that you can explore with your therapist.

It’s also worth noting that you might notice your thoughts and feelings are different from each other. You might be thinking something like ‘its ok, she needs a break’ or ‘I know he’ll come back’, but feel differently. It’s important to pay attention to all of that.

Additionally, if you can discuss it with your therapist, then your therapist is more aware of what’s going on, and may be able to suggest things that you may be able to do to work with that feeling too. For example, it might be that, if it feels too long in between, having a notebook that you can write it, and then share with your therapist after might help.

The other thing to remember is that, your therapist wants to be able to do the best job they can, but the only way that your therapist can do that, is to look after themselves, and that makes breaks important, but it is also important in terms of the work you are doing together too.

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