Two students walking on a college campus

10 Compelling Reasons College Students
Should Consider Therapy During Summer Break

10 Compelling Reasons College Students Should Consider Therapy During Summer Break

Dear Parents: Please Send Your College Student to Therapy This Summer

Summer break often conjures images of relaxation, decompression, family vacations, and catching up on sleep for college students. However, amidst leisure and freedom, it’s crucial to consider the importance of mental health. Seeking therapy during summer break might not be on every student’s or parent’s radar, but it can be immensely beneficial. 

As a clinician with extensive experience working in college counseling settings, I have seen first-hand how summer therapy can benefit college students. Many students begin college with pre-existing mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. The transition into and through college commonly causes these symptoms to exasperate. During active semesters, student concerns primarily focus on acute and immediate issues, such as academic and interpersonal stress.

Core issues, such as long-standing anxiety and depression, are often pushed to the side, therefore limiting student’s ability to find complete relief and resolution. Additionally, many counseling centers on campus offer strict session limits, which diminishes flexibility and consistency in treatment. Overall, students who suffer the most academically, socially, and personally are those with unaddressed and unresolved mental health concerns. With these factors in mind, read on to see if your college student could benefit from starting therapy this summer to get ahead of their mental health priorities:

Benefits of Summer Therapy

Address Mental Health Concerns

The most common mental health issues addressed in college counseling include anxiety, depression, and relationship concerns. Performance anxiety and eating disorders are also prevalent among college students. Unfortunately, attending college can also be the catalyst for new or increased symptoms to begin due to the stress of adjustment and age of onset of multiple mental health concerns in young adulthood.

However, busy academic schedules often leave little time to prioritize mental well-being. Summer break presents an opportunity to seek professional help for these concerns without the added stress of academics and social adjustment. Stabilization is key when any of these concerns are present, which is challenging to accomplish during the academic year. 

Build Coping Skills

Life is full of challenges, and learning effective coping skills is essential for navigating adversity. Therapy equips students with practical tools to manage stress, regulate emotions, and cultivate resilience.

By investing in therapy during summer break, students can build a robust toolkit to cope with life’s ups and downs. Rather than simply putting out the ‘fire of the week’ during the academic year, summer therapy bolsters college students’ ability to face challenges with confidence.

Reflect and Process

Summer break provides an ideal opportunity for students to reflect on their experiences over the past academic year. Therapy offers a structured environment to process these experiences, including academic challenges, personal growth, or emotional struggles.

Reflecting with a therapist can help students gain insights and develop coping strategies for the upcoming year. Increased insight and awareness are often skills that are developmental milestones gained in college. Therefore, with the guidance of a trained therapist, college students can hone these skills in a safe and supportive environment.

Manage Transitions

For many college students, summer break marks a transition period—whether it’s transitioning to college, a new academic year, graduating or moving to a new city or back home. These transitions can be stressful and trigger anxiety or uncertainty about the future. Therapy provides a supportive space to navigate these changes and develop effective coping mechanisms like self-reliance, assertive communication, and self-care.

Female college student at home with her pet dog on the couch

Address Academic Stress

College can be academically demanding, and the competitive pressure to excel can take a toll on students’ mental health. Summer break offers a reprieve from exams and deadlines, making it an opportune time to address academic stressors with the help of a therapist. By identifying stress triggers and learning stress management techniques, students can better prepare for the challenges ahead. Additional concerns with attention and learning disabilities can also be identified to assist students in obtaining the appropriate support and accommodations.

Explore Personal Growth

College is a time of self-discovery and personal growth, but this journey can come with its share of obstacles. Therapy offers a safe environment for students to explore their identities, values, and goals. Whether grappling with existential questions or navigating relationships, therapy can facilitate personal growth and self-awareness.  College is often the period of development where young adults begin exploring their identity and place in society. Therefore, therapy plays a crucial role in providing a supportive and collaborative environment to navigate these questions.

Strengthen Support Networks

College can sometimes feel isolating, especially during summer break when the campus empties. Therapy provides a valuable support network outside of friends and family, offering a non-judgmental space to express thoughts and feelings. Additionally, therapists can help students identify and strengthen existing support systems. On-campus or community clubs, organizations, and support groups are common referrals for lonely or isolated students. Therapy is not only a place to process concerns and skill build; it is also a place to obtain referrals and resources.

Improve Self-Care Practices

Self-care often takes a backseat to academic and social obligations during the school year. However, summer break offers an opportunity to prioritize self-care and recharge mentally and emotionally. Therapy can facilitate this process by helping students develop personalized self-care routines that promote overall well-being. College often lays the groundwork for how individuals can balance their personal and professional lives. Therefore, ensuring these skills are established during this time is critical.

Enhance Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential for healthy relationships and academic success. Therapy provides a safe space for students to practice communication skills, whether it’s assertiveness, active listening, or conflict resolution. By honing these skills over the summer, students can build stronger relationships and navigate interpersonal challenges more effectively. These skills are not only important in college. They are critical for professional and personal opportunities in college and as young adults entering the workforce.

Prevent Burnout

College burnout is a pervasive issue characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced academic performance. Seeking therapy during summer break allows students to address burnout symptoms before they escalate. Through self-reflection and goal-setting, students can develop strategies to prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

When to Seek Help

Summer break presents a valuable opportunity for college students to prioritize their mental health through therapy. Whether addressing academic stress, personal growth, or mental health concerns, therapy offers numerous benefits that can positively impact students’ well-being and academic success. 

To determine if your college student may need therapy this summer, begin by asking your college student if they have faced any of the above concerns. Open communication in a supportive environment within the family often lays the groundwork for successfully addressing concerns in therapy. By investing in therapy during the summer months, students can equip themselves with the tools and support they need to thrive both personally and academically when they return to campus.

Dr. Laura has extensive experience working with college students and their families.

Click here to book a consultation with Dr. Laura.

Helpful readings for parents of college students:

Featured Posts

Why Self-Care & Mindfulness Are Mandatory

Maintaining optimal mental health is pivotal in today's fast-paced world where stress, anxiety, and interpersonal conflicts can surface unexpectedly. At Compass Psychology, I work on fostering self-care and mindfulness practices...