As the days get shorter, darker, and colder, it’s common for counseling clients to feel a drop in energy. Many begin to feel sad, struggle with sleep, experience changes in appetite, and keep to themselves. As clients experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) it’s essential now more than ever for counselors to connect with them. This can include regular check-ins, increasing homework between sessions, creating a new fall/winter routine, and supporting them with digital tools.
Many clients pull away from socializing while feeling the effects of SAD. While this may feel more comfortable for clients in the short term, it can be detrimental to their overall health during the darker seasons. Counselors can support better client mental health by checking in regularly. This can include scheduling more frequent appointments or keeping up between sessions with a digital homework app. As research shows, more social connectedness is linked to lower rates of anxiety and depression. Effectively reaching out to clients between sessions can make all the difference.
Create a new seasonal routine
Clients may need to adjust their routines to feel better in the cooler months. Physical changes, like incorporating light therapy, can be a game-changer for general mood. Routine changes like increasing exercise, spending time with family and friends, and incorporating more nutritious foods into the daily diet are essential in combatting SAD.
Assign homework between sessions
It’s important to keep up with busy clients between sessions to ensure they’re still moving toward their goals and maintaining positive mental health. Research has shown that counselors who don’t consistently follow up on homework assignments are less likely to generate patient regard for the activity. Without homework, it’s all too easy for patients to forget about their growth, or put it off when out of the office. This is especially true in busier seasons like during the holidays — particularly for clients with packed schedules, like parents or caregivers.
Assigning homework between sessions allows clients to keep their mental health top of mind in their day-to-day lives. Homework brings their focus back on their goals and progress and creates a better chance that they’ll keep up with regular sessions.
Homework comes with many benefits. It gives clients control over their wellness, giving them a sense of responsibility. It also creates a space for discussion when it comes to progress — fostering a healthy client-counselor relationship. It’s also great for counselors as it creates a paper trail, making progress tracking a breeze.
Use technology to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder
A digital homework app like Therachat is an innovative tool that makes it easy for counselors to support clients during the tough winter months, as they experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is especially beneficial for patients who have a hard time booking regular sessions. With emotion tracking, skill-building, thought reframing activities and progress tracking all in one app, it’s never been easier to support clients with SAD. Give your clients an accessible tool they can reach for when they need a boost between sessions. Learn more about Therachat for clinicians.