We’re getting to the end of April. Spring is in the air. The days are sunny and getting more pleasant. It can only mean one thing: The slow season is right around the corner. I used to really dread the slow season, but rather than just mope around dreading the hit to my case load, I’ve learned to accept it and embrace it. Once you accept that it’s just an inevitable part of business as a therapist, you can plan for it. You can come to see it as an opportunity.
Whose affected most by the summer slow-down? Child therapists and those that specialize in the treatment of depression. Even if you don’t specialize in these, you might want to read through the ideas I have for these therapists as it might help you with your slow-down as well. Let’s first look at child therapists. For the most part, their business depends a lot on the schools. The school either makes the referral for counseling directly or the parent sees that their child isn’t doing well in school and wants things to improve. The problem is that there is no school in the summer. It’s not uncommon for children to stop coming in for therapy completely during school vacation or just sporadically. The good news is that I do have an idea for how you can take advantage of school vacation!
What about creating a summer program called something like “10 weeks to a better school year!” The child continues to come in to your office during the summer weeks but the idea is to prevent problems during the upcoming school year. You can create a curriculum for those ten weeks that focuses on things like social skills, how to make friends, how to make yourself less of a target of bullies, study skills, and homework skills. Things that would appeal to parents would be knowing that next year their child will have their own alarm clock and will be getting themselves ready for school in the morning without it being a struggle. Parents would also like to eliminate the fight to get their kids to do their homework. In other words, focusing more on fostering responsibility in the child. If you decide to do this, start advertising it now. Talk to your contacts at the schools and consider hanging up flyers at the grocery store or where ever else seems appropriate.
Therapists that treat depression also see a major slow down during the warm months. People simply don’t feel as depressed during the summer. That’s a good thing. My solution for these therapists is to add on another specialty that isn’t seasonally affected. Addiction and personality disorders are two that come to mind. If you already have another specialty, start advertising it now. If you don’t, consider using the spare time you have this summer to train for a new specialty.
Another option is to just embrace the slow season. A lot of therapists welcome it as a time to relax and recharge their batteries. I plan on doing a lot of gardening and finish writing my fourth book. What will you be doing?