#MakingTime: A Day in the Life of an Upper East Side Psychotherapist and Philanthropist

Dr. Kathryn Smerling

Photo courtesy of Dr. Kathryn Smerling

May 24, 2024 at 10:30PM UTC

Women can do anything — but not everything. As the largest online career community for women, we at Fairygodboss realize that balance is a myth, and that picking what to prioritize on a day-to-day basis isn't always easy. In the #MakingTime series, women share with us how, for one day, they chose to spend their most precious resource: time.


Who: Dr. Kathryn Smerling

What: Psychotherapist

Where: New York, New York



I am a morning person and love waking early. It’s quiet and I have time to meditate and prepare for the day. I enrolled in Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation, which I listen to on my iPhone. My husband is in California for work, so it is particularly quiet this morning. I drink a bottle of water every morning, and have my first of MANY cups of coffee. I set up my Keurig last night, so all I have to do is press a button and my cup is ready to go.


Today is a very informal summer day, so I go to my first appointment dressed casually. This appointment is a home visit to her apartment on the Upper East Side. I have been working with her for fifteen years. 


I grab a cab and head over to my office to get ready for my second client. I have a small kitchen area at my office, so I prepare a cup of yogurt with my favorite gluten-free granola from a bakery down the street. I am on to the second cup of coffee.


The second client of the day is an individual meeting with one of my couples clients.


The third client is a Skype session, which is quite common during the summer, as many of my patients are out of town on vacation. I’m now quite comfortable with Skype and phone sessions, as they offer flexibility for my patients to enjoy their vacations while staying healthy. 


I go down the block for hot yoga at Pure Studio. This is a sacred time for me. It’s important to get my body moving and break a sweat every day, which has proven positive effects for ones mental and physical health. Whether I do yoga, Pilates, or meet with my personal trainer, this time is so important for me. Since my work can be so sedentary, it gives me the space I need to connect with my body and mind. Above all, it’s essential to take care of myself so that I can take care of others!


I stop by my salon for a quick blow-out. They are consistently wonderful, efficient, and after years of loyalty, they know just how I like it. This is also when I can catch up on emails and speak to my assistant who is now at the office.


I meet with a lawyer/colleague for lunch at Avra in midtown near his office. I enjoy catching up and networking with professional contacts to share experience, clients, and a mutual understanding of our fields. Since my practice is quite varied, it is important to stay in touch with lawyers and therapists, as well as designers, stylists, and other professionals in town. I like to be able to offer and share life tips with my clients.

After lunch, I hop in a cab back uptown to my office. 


With a break from meeting patients, I can work with my assistant. We send out emails to confirm appointments and answer any of their concerns. I recommend a psychiatrist to one patient’s husband. I approve a co-parenting calendar for another couple. I speak with a child psychologist about another family.

I order a gift for my son – boxing classes at a local gym, I send flowers to my PR rep who just had a baby. I read over the notes for my book proposal meeting with my co-author tomorrow. 

I’m freshening up the office for the Fall right now. It is important to create a space that is warm and welcoming to my patients. We order a new rug for the waiting room and new blinds for the windows. My sister, Lisa Berg, is a fabulous photographer, and always supplies the office with beautiful artwork. I ask her for a new piece for the season.


The fourth client is a teenager whom I have known since she was three years old.


The fifth client is also a teenager, the daughter of another patient I used to work with many years ago.


The sixth appointment of the day is with a couple, working through some marital challenges.


My final appointment is with a nine-year-old boy. I love working with children and have a closet stocked with puzzles, art supplies, games, and toys. They have such fresh and curious minds, and he, in particular, brings me joy and laughter. A perfect end to a busy day. 


I meet a dear friend for a quick bite downtown. We discuss our work for the African Dream Academy, a school we helped to establish in Liberia, West Africa. Right now we are working on establishing a high school. I have been over to Liberia four times, and helping these children is my passion.


We have tickets to a new play off-Broadway called Fairview at Soho Rep. I love attending as much theatre as possible in New York since there are so many opportunities. Tonight is special, because my assistant is also starring in it. I am so proud and fortunate to have such a talented and organized assistant. I could not accomplish all of this in one day without his help!


I hop in a taxi to head home, almost passing out in the cab. Since my husband isn’t home tonight, I can go straight to bed, but not without preparing the Keurig for tomorrow. 


Interested in contributing to Fairygodboss' #MakingTime series? Email [email protected] with "#MakingTime" in the subject line.

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