Every time the weather clears up I see a spike in cancellations. Makes sense, and I honestly love that my clients are feeling grounded enough to skip sessions and enjoy the weather. Seasoned clinicians warned me about the summer lull followed by an autumn spike. I have folks vacationing and dropping to bi-weekly or monthly, and my teens are going to camps. It got me wondering, what do we DO in the summer with all this downtime?

Here are a few ways that I plan to use this extra time:

               Taking time off. If you have PTO this is a great time to use it. If you can, catch the vibe your clients are on– it’s a great time to recharge.

               Learn about diagnoses that are popping up concurrently in your client load. I primarily treat trauma, and I’m seeing a lot of clients who use disordered eating as a coping tool to manage their emotional experience. Makes so much sense. But I also don’t feel like I was taught much, if anything, about EDs in grad school and that feels dangerous considering eating disorders had the highest mortality rate of any mental illness in 2021 (1). While I’ve been picking up knowledge through consultation and books, I’m planning to use my downtime to take some trainings through theoretical frameworks I like and use with my clients (ex: ACT for Anorexia Nervosa) and research local treatment programs and providers who treat EDs for clients that may need support transitioning into a higher level of care.

               Invest time in your meso and macro activism/engagement. As far as social workers are concerned, we have an ethical obligation to engage with the work we do on an individual level (micro) as well as on systems (macro) and community (meso) levels. Personally, my meso and macro activism has taken a back seat to my clinical work as a newer clinician. This is a great time to reflect on areas where we could operationalize our liberatory values and create a plan to maintain that once clients begin to pick up again.

               Review admin. Yes, I think it’s a good time to review treatment plans and diagnosis documents. I will certainly be doing that. But I am thinking about a self-care admin review too. This is a great time to review the things lingering on my to-do list that I never have enough executive function to address in my typical week. Planning for more mid-week availability means I have time to schedule my annual exam and get back into acupuncture. Also, I know I want to read up on my work benefits and schedule time to talk about stuff like retirement contributions, and investing for buying a house. Summer feels like a good time to review what’s fallen through the self-care gaps.

How do you plan to recharge this summer? Let us know in the comments.