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A Therapist’s Guide to Navigating the Summer Slump 

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The summer slump is a well-known phenomenon in private practice, where client appointments often decline as people go on vacations and enjoy the warmer weather. While this slower period might initially seem like a challenge, it presents unique opportunities for growth, catch-up, and much-needed rest. Whether you are new to private practice, or you’re a seasoned veteran – deciding how you’re going to take advantage of this slump can help set yourself up for success once business picks up again! We’re going to delve into a few different ways that you can spend the summer, whether you want to prioritize rest or if you want work on your practice. 

Opportunities for Growth During a Summer Slump

  1. Switch to a New EHR

If your current electronic health record (EHR) system isn’t meeting your needs, now is the perfect time to switch. Switching EHRs is a big decision, and much of that decision may rest on the fact that it’s a time-consuming endeavor. Migration means dealing with sensitive client information, customizing forms, setting up billing and insurance information and more. It all takes time and careful attention. However, with clients on vacation, you’ll have some extra hours that you can put into switching to a new EHR. Spend a few days migrating your data and getting familiar with a new, more efficient system. By the time your clients are scheduling with you again, you’ll be able to hit the ground running. 

2. Refine Marketing Strategies 

Take this time to refresh your website and update your social media profiles. Go through each page of your website and ensure that all information is still up to date. Double check that all your contact forms are working well, and that your site is accessible. You could even ask a friend to poke around and provide feedback!  

Implement SEO techniques to attract new clients and improve your online presence. If your website has a blog or FAQ page, these would be great areas to try out some SEO techniques. Write blog posts that address a particular concern about mental health or therapy that clients typically have. Your FAQ section should address questions about your specific practice and type of therapist you are, but it should also address general questions about therapy. If you enjoy regularly posting on social media, maybe plan out a few posts for the summer and a few weeks into fall, and schedule them so you don’t have to worry about it for a while! 

If you don’t have a website, but would love to get into marketing yourself more, look at directories like Zencare — you can get a custom profile with high-quality photos, and get in front of your ideal clients so they can discover and contact you.

3. Develop New Services 

Explore and develop new services or specialties that can enhance your practice. This might be a time where you can get a jump start on a certification or training process, that way you have less interruptions and you can focus on getting through your requirements. For example, you might want to consider getting EMDR certified. Have you thought about offering intensives for your clients? Now could be a great time to evaluate your clients and your calendar and ask yourself a few questions: which clients could likely move from weekly to bi-weekly sessions based on their goals? Which clients might be open to a new “regular” session time? If I look out further ahead in my schedule, where can I easily block off 2-3 hours? 

A lull in the summer offers a great opportunity to start gaining a new specialty, certification, or offering and then also planning for how you will integrate them into your calendar.  

4. Enhance the Client Experience 

Use client feedback to improve your services and make your practice more client friendly. This might mean offering online therapy options to broaden your client base and meet the needs of those who prefer virtual sessions. Spend some time in your EHR’s teletherapy feature and get comfortable with how it works. For clients that have chronic health issues, disabilities or other needs, expanding your offerings to include virtual sessions for some clients or all could be mutually beneficial.  

Improving the client experience might also mean updating your practice environment to create a more welcoming and comfortable space for your clients! Things to consider in your space: 

  • Consider adding more texture, prints and color with throw pillows, nature prints or throwing on a new coat of paint. Warm tones make spaces feel less clinical! 
  • Do a late spring cleaning. Tidy up the space and take note of what you need to stock up on like hand sanitizer, tissues or tea! 
  • Take a seat on the “client couch”. Any weird buttons or seams that are uncomfortable or annoying? Think about getting an upholstery cleaner in for a quick refresh or getting new cushions. 

Take time during the summer to implement client feedback and zhuzh up your space while there’s less foot traffic! 

Playing Catch Up During a Summer Slump 

5. Administrative Tasks 

Spend time organizing client files and updating records to ensure everything is in order. You can also review and improve your billing processes for better efficiency and accuracy. If taxes were a big pain last year, do a mid-year tax check-in with yourself! You could hunt for any receipts that may be helpful in claiming deductions, see where you’re at with your budget, decide if there’s any fat you can trim in your business, and even though it’s not fun – chase down any unpaid invoices from clients.  

6. Continuing Education 

With some more time in your schedule and the bandwidth to digest information, you could enroll in workshops, webinars, and courses to stay updated with the latest in your field. Subscribe to some newsletters and spend a nice cozy chunk of your morning reading through the latest news in the field of mental health and learn what clients are being exposed to in the mental health landscape too.  

You can also use this time to fulfill any continuing education (CE) requirements you may have. CE requirements vary by state, but average around 20- 40 hours every two years, and each state might have CE topic requirements and specific deadlines. If you feel that you’re behind or you want to get ahead on your CE requirements, the summer is a great time to knock out a few hours and stay up to date on your profession’s practices and developments.  

7. Networking and Collaboration 

Reach out to colleagues for support and potential collaborations. Spending your downtime networking within your peer group is incredibly valuable. In the long run, the time spend cultivating these relationships and engaging with other professionals can lead to referrals, and having some great people you can lean on for consultation 

Attend professional events and local meetups to expand your professional network. Conferences, events and workshops are a great way to meet with other professionals within your field or specialty. And attending an event that is outside of your field or specialty, but that you’re interested in can be a great way to expand your learning and perspective. 

Take Advantage of Rest During a Summer Slump 

8. Prioritize Self-Care 

Self-care is crucial for therapists to maintain their well-being. You can’t pour from an empty cup. What makes you feel well-rested? You can take a vacation, either a fun getaway or a nice staycation (exploring your own state can be so much fun!). Engage in hobbies that bring you joy! Pick up your old love for painting or playing the piano. Try going to a Pilates or yoga class every week and see how the movement makes you feel. Reengage in some relaxation techniques that maybe haven’t had time for, but that you recommend to your own clients!  

Then there’s “boring” self-care, it’s unglamourous but important. Use your time to get your routine medical appointments out of the way. Schedule your annual physical, go get a teeth cleaning or get your freckles checked by a dermatologist – just in time for summer!  

Self-care looks different for everyone, but you deserve to take time to care for yourself, especially during a seasonal slow-down.

9. Recharge and Reflect 

Use this downtime to reflect on your personal and professional growth. Consider journaling, meditating, or seeking peer support to help with this process. You could start a gratitude journal for the summer and write daily entries focusing on what you’re grateful for. Seek therapy for yourself to help address any stress or burnout you might be feeling so far this year. Whatever inspires reflection, taking the time to pause and reflect on the first half of the year can help set yourself up for success and continued gratitude throughout the rest of the year.  

Conclusion

The summer slump, while typically a slower period, can be an incredibly productive and beneficial time for therapists. By focusing on growth opportunities, catching up on essential tasks, and prioritizing self-care, therapists can emerge from the summer feeling refreshed and ready for a busy fall season. 

Take advantage of our Summer Sale Promotion and enhance your practice today. We invite you to share your own strategies for dealing with the summer slump in the comments below. How do you turn this slow period into a time of growth and rejuvenation?  


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