Therapists Need Vacations Too: Recharging So You Can Respond

Most therapists dream about more vacation time. Well, therapist or not, who would say no to more time for relaxation and recharging?

In the European Union, workers are mandated to receive at least 20 working days per year. In Australia, the minimum is 20 days of vacation + 10 public holidays paid. America is the one of the most “anti-vacation” nations in the developed world with employers not being required to give a single paid vacation day or holiday.

Many therapists working in America are exposed to the idea that time off is a perk. So, it is no wonder that therapists don't always hold time off as something necessary. In fact, according to our private practice analysis survey, only 67% believe that therapists in private practice need regular vacations. That means that about a third of therapists don’t believe that taking time off is necessary!

But do therapists specifically need this time off?

Is it a necessity that therapists in private practice should plan for vacations when developing their business plan? Should therapists arrange their fees in such a way that they could take several weeks off each year? What would happen to a therapist's private practice if they started to consistently take vacation time? 

Why is vacation time important?

1. Compared to others around the globe, Americans get less time to spend to relax, de-stress and really focus on preserving their health. Is it any wonder that we have more health and stress related illness in the US? 

2. The field of mental health is a little different to other fields in that it demands certain things that sometimes simply can’t be fixed by a single weekend of good sleep.

What makes therapy different?

Therapists are dealing with emotional baggage and the emotional energy they give isn’t something they can just conjure up when they want to. The emotional connections and rapport that therapists form are obviously crucial, natural elements of what they do, but their energy to do so isn’t unlimited.

Many therapists emotionally invest with 20 people (or more) per week--that’s 20 sets of problems, emotions, and lives that they are accountable for every week! You are a therapist. You know how inspiring your work is. However, you also know how much it takes out of you. You have to be completely present to do great work!

So do therapists need vacations?

Yes! Absolutely! Therapists need to recharge and restore some of that emotional energy that they naturally have in order to be better clinicians to those who seek their help. And yes, this means taking extended periods off where you are not responsible for anybody else for several days in a row!

Where does this leave therapists? How can you make time to recharge those emotions so you can respond to the need around you?

The awesome thing is that if you are in private practice, you are in control of your paid days and your vacation days. Well, your entire business really! In private practice, it IS possible to fit in that vacation time.

Does your private practice allow you to have regular vacations?

Here are some elements that are crucial in creating your dream practice and unlocking that extra time you need to spend with you family, friends, and with yourself.

  • First you need to have a clear business plan developed. That plan should include a business savings account and vacation time.

  • Second, you need to be bringing in your ideal clients. These clients will be people who actually want to work with and will pay you for your worth.

  • You need to be able to convey your value during your initial phone contact so you are getting paid what you are worth.

  • You need to be great at what you do! And yes, having regular time off for vacations and trainings is part of what allows you to be great!

That being said, these elements are not as easy to implement as they are to write about!

The private practice analysis survey further revealed that:

  • A third of therapists don’t know how to market their practice.

  • 14% have the perfect number of clients coming in.

  • 13% have a business plan for their private practice.


Sara Wong

I am a Senior at the University of Washington from Perth, Western Australia studying International Studies with a focus on International Political Economy. I love coming into contact with other cultures and learning new languages especially since I think the world needs to explored--all of it! Music is one of my loves and the only thing one of the only things I will deli