What does a typical work day for a psychotherapist working online actually look like? Especially when she also travels the world as a digital nomad?
In many ways, the typical working day for an online psychotherapist is not that different from that of many other self-employed psychotherapists: I spend a large part of my working week talking to my clients about their psychological problems, worries and fears. However, and here comes the first difference: I do this online – by video call, but also via email. Also, unlike many offline colleagues, I don’t talk to 20, 30, or even more clients per week. Most of the time I “see” 12-15 clients per week, some for 50 minutes, others for 90 minutes and others communicate only via email.
In contrast to a psychotherapist based in Germany (where I am licensed and my business is based), as an online psychotherapist, I don’t have a 6-month waiting list, even though my practice has been going really well for quite some time. I regularly have to do things to help new people find their way to me; posting new content on my blog, sending newsletters or maintaining my social media channels like Instagram or Facebook.
My typical working week as a psychotherapist working online
In a typical week, I work 4-5 days, usually meeting 12-15 clients via video call and advising 2-3 others via email. As far as possible, I arrange the client meetings over the course of 2-3 days per week, so that I am more flexible with the other days and can perhaps work in a café or spontaneously take a half-day off. At the moment I work on Saturdays because of time zone considerations. Therefore I usually take another day off in the week in addition to Sunday – for travelling or exploring new corners as a tourist or just lying in bed with a good book or a new Netflix series and doing “nothing”.
My working day usually starts with my emails. Fortunately, I don’t get as many emails as in my former life at university, but I spend about an hour a day answering questions from clients and colleagues, organising appointments of all kinds and responding to press enquiries. Whenever possible I will do this while sitting in a café and enjoying a nice cup of coffee.
My daily routine will change depending on where I am in the world. Being in a different time zone will affect how my day looks – for example, when I lived in Latin America, I held my sessions in the morning and sat in the café in the afternoon. When I am in Australia most of my client sessions are in the evenings, and right now, in Europe, I often have a few sessions in the morning, followed by a long lunch break and more sessions in the evenings.
Being a digital nomad clearly requires a lot of flexibility and a regular adjustment of my working week. Nevertheless, a certain routine and the best possible structuring of my working week is important for me.
Interaction with colleagues
Most of my online meetings with colleagues now happen inside the LIT Community – we meet to discuss various aspects of running a successful online practice, as well as more casual, social things such as book club and a monthly “happy hour”. I often answer press enquiries by email, but on average I am also interviewed by phone or Zoom about once a month – a travelling psychotherapist who works online is a little different from the typical digital nomad. All this means that I spend at least 5-10 hours per week in video calls – in addition to the client sessions.
Time for marketing
How much time I spend on social media varies greatly and depends entirely on how much is going on in my groups – I network a lot with colleagues online. But most of all, it depends on how well I can stick to my own goal to spend less time there. I don’t really need to be online that much because I have a wonderful assistant who creates Instagram and Facebook posts and shares links I send her with my readers. I can easily be offline for a week or so and no one notices that fact from my social media activity. So if you had the impression that I’m online and posting all the time, I remind you of the universally sage advice to not believe everything you see online.
As I just mentioned, I have an assistant who supports me actively. Even though she can do a lot of things on her own, it also means that I spend some time every week with her, giving her feedback and sharing information.
Another important part of the everyday work of an online psychotherapist is the creation of new content. Sometimes it’s photos for Instagram, sometimes videos for my Youtube channel. In addition, my goal is to publish a new blog post at least once, ideally twice per month and to publish new translations in between This means that I regularly sit in cafés or, like today, the garden of our Airbnb mansion in Tuscany, Italy and write. Writing is actually something I like to do very much. Unfortunately, sometimes it gets put on the back burner because of the many other things on my to-do list. But when I take the time to write without being disturbed, I am always very happy about it.
A little time for documentation and other admin activities is, of course, also necessary in an online practice. As a psychotherapist, I am subject to documentation requirements and like any other self-employed person, I regularly have to do some (a lot of!) paperwork to keep my business running.
Finally, I try to take a few hours every week to develop new ideas and concepts. My online business is constantly evolving – because I have just attended an exciting new training course, or perhaps colleagues or clients have given me a new idea.
I love to start and develop new projects, but at the same time, I have to slow down more often, because I don’t really want to work as much as I used to, when a 60-hour week was the rule rather than the exception… Fortunately, I’m mostly at really exciting places, where the food, the beach or the next museum already lures me away from my laptop.
So this is what it looks like, the daily routine of an online working psychotherapist… Is this what you expected or did something surprise you? What does your working day look like?