Day in the Life of an NYC Therapist

Being a therapist and social worker can make for chaotic days and constantly changing schedules. So how do we manage to stay on top of it all? Here is the breakdown of my daily schedule (generally speaking) and what my days look like as a therapist in New York City.

As a fee-for-service therapist, my schedule is ultimately up to me. My caseload is as big as I want it to be, and my schedule is flexible based on each day. I broke down my work week below. I typically see clients every hour on the hour, and have about 44 sessions each week, not including my hour for supervision, and the time I have towards administrative supervision duties of my own, treatment plans, progress notes, and collaborative meetings with my patients’ case managers, doctors, and other professionals.

Weekly Work Schedule

  • Monday 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Tuesday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Wednesday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Thursday 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Friday 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Because of remote work during the pandemic, I work in the office Tuesday and Wednesday, and work remotely from home the others days of the week. Generally, I love to have a thorough morning routine to start my day right and accomplish as much as I can before my work-work starts. By the time I commute home from the office, it could already be 9:00 pm, so it’s important I do the most before work.

My Morning Routine

  • Wake up and make coffee
  • Wash my face and brush my teeth
  • Workout (Cardio, yoga, crunches/pushups/squats)
  • Shower and skin care
  • Get dressed, do my hair and makeup
  • Clean up and organize apartment
  • Read Bible, pray, and journal
  • Duolingo lesson
  • Review my goals & my daily schedule
  • Work on my blog, podcast, Etsy shop, social media, and other to do list items
  • Commute to work if in the office

My Work Day – In the Office

  • 8:45 am – Arrive at the office and get situated (Make some coffee, get organized, review today’s schedules, and check email)
  • 9:00 am – 7:45 pm – Client Sessions
  • 8:00 pm – Clean up and tidy the office & commute home

I typically have client sessions every hour on the hour, for about 45 minutes each. This allows me fifteen minutes after each session to complete the progress note from the session, write up other documentation, check my email, eat lunch, and have phone calls/meetings with other professionals or complete a clients’ collateral paperwork for a program, referral, or benefits application.

As a therapist, it’s important to have an understanding of my client’s medical concerns and physical health. My client’s may also be receiving collaborative case management services, or be involved with other social service organizations or hospital services. It’s important that I have an understanding of these medical conditions and services, as they could be vital in mental health care and greater support. Therapists often provide letters and recommendations for clients to receive benefits, higher services, etc., so part of my job is collaborating with others and sending MANY letters regarding my patients’ treatment and progress.

Part of my time not in sessions is administrative work regarding each patient. I review their treatment plans and progress. I’m also on a team that supervises other clinicians administrative work, so I commit weekly time to reaching out to these other therapists and reviewing their clinical documentation, and answering any questions.

After a long work day, I will finish up my notes, and head out for the day. There will always be more work to do, but I have boundaries for myself and always leave by 8:00 pm, unless absolutely necessary I stay later. After wrapping up, I commute home. It takes about 45-60 minutes to go home on the subway, and about 35-45 minutes if I drive. This commute time is an important part of transitioning from work to home, and allows me the time to really leave work at work and be present when I’m home. In working from home, it has been important for me to recreate this transition from work to home through a walk, stretches, or leaving the room I’ve been working in.

When I arrive home, I am usually completely clocked out of work and ready to focus on my self and my night.

My Evening Routine

  • Change into more comfortable clothes.
  • Cook a later dinner and wind down with a good meal & Netflix.
  • Wash my dishes and clean my apartment where it’s neeed.
  • Go for a walk, do an at-home workout, or do yoga for few minutes.
  • Take a shower, complete my skin care regime, and brush my teeth.
  • Get some personal work done for the many other parts of my life (i.e. The Social Work Bubble Etsy shop, YouTube channel, blog, and podcast; volunteer and board work, etc.
  • Study for my LMSW examination.
  • Plan the next day, lay out my outfit, prepare my lunch, and pack my bag.
  • Journal and read.
  • Fill in my Habit Tracker.
  • Video call my partner.
  • Set my alarms and get some sleep 🙂

My morning and evening routines are important in implementing structure and daily self care into my life. Being a therapist and social worker can be tremendously difficult. It is essential that each and every day allows us time and space to wind down, prepare, and find peace. There will always, always be more work to do. Be intentional with creating a daily routine and schedule, and in ensuring self care in integrated. We cannot serve others if we are continuously drained.

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