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Why Do Therapists Summer in Cape Cod?

Why Do Therapists Summer in Cape Cod?Cape Cod is a wonderful summer destination for hundreds of thousands of people each year. Some of those thousands are therapists.

But unlike most vacationers, the therapists don’t head to the Cape for just the beaches and sun. They’re coming to hone their therapeutic skills, while maintaining their license.

One of the ways to do that is to attend the Cape Cod Institute, the successful continuing education program for mental health professionals run by my friend and colleague, Gil Levin, Ph.D. The Boston Globe (Sunday) Magazine recently featured him and his ground-breaking Institute.

Gil and I have known each other for over 20 years. We met at the first symposium he organized in 1995 to help mental health professionals learn more about the Internet — and what it would mean to their profession. We continued this week-long symposium for a number of years together, helping to train hundreds of professionals about how to get online — and what to do there once they did.

One of the joys of attending the Cape Cod Institute is that it is a relaxed, Cape-style environment, where old colleagues and friends come together each year while learning something new that benefits their professional work. The sessions are educational and you learn a lot.

Levin recognized the potential for a summer-long series of educational courses for mental health professionals and started the Institute back in 1980. His Institute is the original and in my admittedly-biased opinion, the best (but he sadly couldn’t stop an unoriginal copycat from poaching his idea for a sterile hotel-based version down the road).

Neil Swidey has the interesting story of Levin and the other summer offerings found on the Cape for mental health professionals:

The clinical psychologist started the Cape Cod Institute in 1980, when he was on the faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. Since its inception, the series of weeklong seminars has offered psychotherapists and others the chance to get the continuing-education credits they generally need to maintain their licenses while also enjoying a relaxing, tax-deductible vacation. He devised the formula early on and has stuck with it. He lines up notable speakers from psychology, psychiatry, and organizational behavior, who each teach five weekday sessions, from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. After that, participants get the rest of the day to swim in the ocean, cycle the bike trail, or doze off in the dunes. […]

As much as Levin has leveraged the familiar, he and his assistant director, social worker Molly Eldridge, have worked to adapt to changes in the field. Traditional psychoanalysts were there at Levin’s first summer session, which was called “Therapies for the ’80s.” But the speakers whose classes I attended during my stint at this year’s institute were decidedly nontraditional. One, a social worker, specializes in something called Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, or AEDP, which engages the therapist as an active participant in the process. And the husband-and-wife psychiatrist pair of Pat Gerbarg and Dick Brown have replaced the analyst’s couch with, among other things, intense breathing exercises.

Now, granted, the Cape Cod Institute won’t be for everyone. And it may be one of those work-vacations that you can’t afford every year. But it’s a wonderful alternative for mental health professionals to gain continuing education credits in an environment that is both relaxing and therapeutic.

If you’re interested in learning more about the various summer educational programs that Levin and others offer on the Cape, the article is well worth a read.


Read the full article: Why do shrinks flock to Cape Cod’s Wellfleet?

Why Do Therapists Summer in Cape Cod?

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Why Do Therapists Summer in Cape Cod?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 1 Aug 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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