As someone who’s always loved to travel, I’ve often found myself reflecting on my year based on the travels and locations I visited throughout the year. As a digital nomad, this has only increased, my year being marked by different locations, languages, seasons and, of course, the people I’ve (re-)connected with all over the world. Having visited 9 different countries – some of them repeatedly – 2023 has certainly been another busy year for me! So today, I want to share with you some of the highlights from another year of travelling the world as a digital nomad and online therapist, and, in doing so, I want to encourage you to do the same and look back on what you have achieved this year.

 

View from my Airbnb in New Zealand

 

My 2023 travel itinerary

 

While the first half of my year consisted mostly of some more intensive travelling, often staying in countries or cities for just a few days or weeks, the second half of my year included 3 summer months in my home base in Europe followed by 3 months of spring and summer in Australia.

 

This was my full 2023 itinerary: 

 

France → South Korea → Australia → New Zealand → Japan → Vietnam → Germany → France → Germany → France → Belgium → France → Thailand → Australia → France 

 

Workshops and Webinars

 

Events played a significant role in my work life last year, with a mix of in-person and virtual engagements, as I strived to improve the balance between my online counselling business and my other ventures – the LIT Community and my workshops and talks. What stood out the most, were the six weeks I spent in New Zealand preparing and hosting three in-person workshops on expat mental health and wellbeing for Deloitte New Zealand, in partnership with Mobile Relocation. I’m grateful that my remote work allowed me to turn what would have otherwise been a short business trip, into 6 weeks of exploring New Zealand, including taking all three scenic tourist trains and exploring some stunning hiking trails.

 

 

View from a scenic train in New Zealand

Riding one of the scenic tourist trains in New Zealand

 

I was also honoured to kick off the new German webinar series psylive live with four online seminars on how to build a successful online business in therapy and counselling. Another highlight was presenting to psychology students at the Be-In online conference

Finally, our popular Bootcamp Onlinepraxis, in partnership with my colleague Cynthia Dauterstedt, returned for an intensive weekend in September, teaching our participants everything they need to know to start their own therapy or coaching business online. 

 

Presenting a workshop on expat mental health and wellbeing for Deloitte New Zealand, in partnership with Mobile Relocation

Presenting a workshop on expat mental health in New Zealand

 

 

LIT Community

 

In February, I celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the Location Independent Therapists (LIT) Community, which my co-founder Melissa Parks and I created to bring together remote working mental health professionals from around the globe. 

Throughout the year, we remained committed to nurturing the community’s growth by hosting four successful launches that welcomed a stream of new members. We also hosted numerous internal events, including supervision calls, presentations, hot seats and business meet-ups. We also reached the milestone of 7500 members in our free Facebook group

We’re proud to have grown our community to 86 members from diverse backgrounds and a variety of therapeutic training, each contributing to a pool of shared knowledge and collaboration. I not only got to share my own know-how and experience with the LIT Community, but I also increasingly found myself turning to our members to learn about new therapy methods, tools, and exercises, to seek advice from peers and to discuss any struggles, ideas and goals I had for my business. 

As much as I love my online work, there’s always something special about meeting digital connections face-to-face, so my LIT Community highlight of 2023 was meeting two of our members in person during a summer visit to Belgium.

 

Meeting two LIT Community members in Belgium

A summer celebration with two of my fellow LIT Community members Mila and Caro

 

 

My online counselling clients

 

Throughout the year 2023, I worked with a total of 45 clients. While the majority of these clients have been working with me for many years, I also welcomed 16 new individuals to my online counselling practice. The frequency of my meetings with these clients varies. Many new clients initially start with weekly sessions and later switch to biweekly or monthly counselling sessions. 

80% of my clients in 2023 were women. 75% identify as expats, repats (recently repatriated after living abroad) or have some other type of rich cross-cultural background. Geographically, my client base spans across the world, including clients in Europe, Africa, South and North America, and Asia, with the majority speaking German but some also English and French.

My counselling calendar hosted between 25 and 55 sessions per month, averaging around 10 sessions per week. In total, I did 460 online counselling sessions last year.

The topics I explored in my counselling sessions remained similar to previous years, with discussions revolving around relationships, family dynamics, stress, and burnout, but the influence of politics and global events is also increasingly impacting my clients’ lives.

 

 

Website and Marketing

 

At the start of last year, and after a thorough analysis of my marketing channels, I made some significant changes to my marketing strategy and stopped sharing content on my Instagram and Facebook pages. Instead, my team and I focused our efforts on leveraging the newsletter and blog posts. This transition involved my virtual assistant, Charlotte, taking on even more of the marketing responsibilities for my counselling business.

 

Here are some key stats:

  • Website visitors: 39,537
  • Google search impressions: 855,000
  • Google search clicks: 30,300
  • Newsletters sent: 12
  • Blogposts published: 36 (in 3 different languages)

 

Our blogposts included a variety of different topics, from book recommendations to different techniques from Acceptance & Commitment (ACT) Therapy, mental health advice and insights into my work as an online therapist.

 

The 3 most read blogposts of 2023 were:

 

1. ACT Metaphor: Monsters on a Boat

2. Book Recommendation: Four Thousand Weeks – Time Management for Mortals

3. Memes in Therapy and Counselling 

 

My most read articles, including ones published prior to 2023, were:

 

1. 3 ACT exercises to help you deal with unpleasant emotions

2. ACT Exercise Hands and Thoughts

3. The Story of the Hammer – or the Power of Negative Thoughts 

 

 

Sonia Jaeger's business cards designed by Charlotte

My virtual assistant Charlotte also designed my new business cards

 

 

Interviews and Collaborations

 

Throughout 2023, I’ve engaged in multiple interviews and guest posts. Among them were a feature in an article by The Press NZ on the efforts made by local companies to retain skilled migrant workers, a quote in the digital magazine Success about mental health in digital nomads, an interview with psylive, a website for German mental health professionals, and a podcast on mental load and how to overcome it.

You can find a list of all the publications I’ve been featured in here on my website.

 

Fitmacher Podcast

 

 

Personal Highlights & Looking Forward 

 

Being a big foodie, my visits to Seoul, Bangkok, and Japan (including my first trip to Osaka) were the culinary highlights of my year.

In an effort to balance work and personal time, I took 8 dedicated weeks fully “off duty”, with an additional 2-3 weeks as individual travel days and long weekends. Events also played a big role in my personal life this year, and many of my travels centred around special occasions with friends and family. 

All in all, I stayed in 9 different countries last year. While I did get to visit some cities and regions I had not previously been to, none of these countries were first-time visits for me. That’s why I’m all the more excited to be going to Sri Lanka shortly, which will be my first new country in a while. I even started taking an online language course in Sinhala in anticipation of my Sri Lankan adventure, as I also rediscovered my love for learning languages in 2023.

 

 

Old town of Seoul

Walking the streets of the old town in Seoul, South Korea

 

What are your standout moments, both personally and professionally, from last year? I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your own journey, to celebrate your successes, acknowledge the challenges, and cherish the lessons learned. If you feel like sharing your stories, I would love to read about your personal highlights in the comments below. 

 

 

*****

 

 

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