How to Handle Back-To-School Transitions: Three Therapists Discuss

For many students and families, the transition from leisurely summer routines to the structured demands of the academic year can be both exciting and challenging. We asked three Zencare therapists to share strategies and insights aimed at assisting clients — whether they are students, parents, or guardians — in navigating this seasonal shift. By addressing a range of academic, emotional, and organizational aspects, therapists can create an environment that nurtures a seamless and positive transition, setting the stage for a productive and fulfilling school year ahead.

Marlin Wolf, PHD

Marlin Wolf is a clinical psychologist in Florida

In your private practice, what strategies do you use to support clients during the transition back to school?

Recognizing and validating the emotions of students and parents is crucial in building trust. By acknowledging their anxieties you can provide a sense of comfort that will help them feel heard and understood. This approach fosters deeper connections between individuals which ultimately leads to better communication and problem-solving skills.

Establishing a routine is crucial for both students and parents before the start of school. They are encouraged to set up consistent bedtimes, wake-up times, as well as structured meal schedules at least two weeks prior to classes commencing. This will help ensure that everyone has an organized approach towards their daily activities during this busy period.

Role-playing can be an effective tool for helping students navigate difficult situations such as approaching a new group of peers or seeking assistance from their teacher. By using this technique I can provide valuable practice opportunities that help prepare learners for real-life scenarios.

Shelly Ware, LMFT

Shelly Ware is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California

In what ways can providers support students who are starting or returning to school in the fall?

Effective Techniques for Parents

1. Open Communication: Therapists encourage parents to have open and honest conversations with their children about the upcoming changes. This fosters a sense of security and helps children voice their feelings.

2. Establishing Routines: Therapists work with parents to create consistent routines that promote stability and predictability, easing children's transition back to school.

3. Mindfulness Practices: Therapists introduce mindfulness techniques to parents, helping them stay present and manage anxious thoughts about the transition.

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Addressing Parental Self-Care

1. Self-Compassion: Therapists emphasize the importance of self-compassion for parents, reminding them to be patient with themselves as they navigate this transition.

2. Seeking Support: Therapists guide parents in seeking support from their own social networks, fostering a sense of community and shared experiences.

Sarah Henry, PhD

Sarah Henry is a psychologist in Nevada

How can therapists help students manage school stress and anxiety?

Transitions are always anxiety-inducing because there is so much uncertainty with anything new. You aren't quite sure what to expect, you don't really know how hard these classes are really going to be, etc. When we are surrounded by such uncertainty, our brains like to try and kick into overdrive and "prepare" us for that by worrying and going through a series of "what-if'' statements. This is where being clear on what is important to you and knowing what you value coupled with an attitude of "willingness" can be really helpful. We can't avoid the anxiety of new-ness, but we can create great opportunities and experiences by being willing to navigate through the initial discomfort in service of creating a great school year and a great experience.


Finding a therapist who specializes in school anxiety can help individuals effectively manage their anxiety, thrive academically, and enjoy a more fulfilling educational experience. Zencare provides a user-friendly platform that makes finding a therapist who specializes in anxiety and academic challenges a seamless and empowering experience – find your Zencare therapist today.