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Barbie Atkinson

A day in the life of a therapist that owns her own therapy practice. *This would look differently for a therapist who works for a hospital, school, or agency.

The first thing I do (after coffee and walking my dog) is look at my schedule for the day. I begin to get mentally prepared for who I’m going to meet with. All of my clients have a set time in which they come to see me. My sessions are 50 minutes long, so I schedule my clients on the hour and then I have approximately 10 minutes at the end of each session to do some administrative work Like notes about our time together, and what I would like to begin with next session.

So in reality, every day looks extremely differently. In fact, hours within my day can look very differently because I’m meeting with different people. So, for example, I would meet with client A who wants to talk about her anxiety from 9 AM to 9:50 AM, and then client B who wants to talk about his sadness from 10 AM to 10:50 AM. I typically see about five clients a day in order to give myself time to breathe, process, and also because listening to people can sometimes be difficult, it gives me the opportunity to set boundaries and take care of myself.

My lunch can vary between 11 AM and 1 PM, depending on who I have that day. I never eat while seeing clients because I want my complete attention to be with you and not my turkey sandwich 🙂 I don’t mind if my clients eat while in my office though. I work three days a week and the other two days I work on my business. That can include marketing the practice, networking with folks in the community, building relationships with other professionals in the community, blogging, working on my website, and reading articles and books to be able to recommend to my clients. So, as you can see, even though I only see approximately 15 people a week, my week is filled with practice related activities.

Advice – Persevering, and being patient with the years of study and application would be my go-to answer. If you’re considering this career in mental healthcare, remember that you will need to learn to take really good care of yourself and replenish your own cup first. This is the one solid piece of advice that will keep you doing what I find the most honorable career of guiding people through their personal storms and into being the confident captains of their own ship.

Books – this is the hardest question that you asked me and the hardest for me to answer. I love love love reading, and I love books. I won’t overwhelm you with recommendations, or things that were terribly personal to me. More so I’d like for you to have two books that have shaped my therapeutic and personal style.

  1. The Gift of Therapy: an open letter to a new generation of therapists and their patients. Dr. Irvin Yalom is a gifted writer and it is simply one of the best books on therapy that you can read. I read it to remind myself of what we are all capable of in this field and how the relationship and empathy should always be on the forefront of my mind.
  2. Any Shel Silverstein book! The playfulness, curiosity, and whimsy in any Shel Silverstein book is exactly the humor and levity in which we can approach all things.

Because of the nature of our work, and our practice specifically, we do not offer any internships or job shadow opportunities to high school students.

Barbie Atkinson is a bilingual psychotherapist and licensed professional counselor. She founded Catalyst Counseling to offer clients a chance to really feel seen, heard and ask them questions they hadn’t considered before. Not your Mama’s therapist. Her One-Size-Can’t-Possibly-Fit-All approach is refreshingly human and personal. She brings curiosity to each assessment and has helped a wide breadth of clients. She enjoys working with tweens, teens, young adults, adults, couples and families.

For over 18 years, she’s helped clients in such places as Baylor and University of Texas community clinics, probation offices, various community agencies and schools, research studies through Human Behavior and Research Institute at University of Texas, University of Houston’s Center for Latina Maternal & Family Health Research, online, and in private practice. She holds an M.S. with dual specializations in Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy from Barry University and a B. A. in Psychology from Florida International University.