By Rich Simon The now 37-year-old Networker Symposium was born at a point in our field’s history when the ideal of the detached, eminently rational therapist helping emotionally overwrought clients tame their id-driven passions still held sway. Nevertheless, early on, the Symposium followed a different course, epitomized in the over-the-top song and dance opening performance that has become its signature. Although we would have been hard-pressed to explain why, early on we apparently understood that talk is not enough; it is experience that sparks change, and what better way to embrace emotion than in the company of a few thousand of your most like-minded, favorite colleagues? Read more
By Rich Simon What better time than Valentine’s Day weekend to think about the contradictions in modern day couplehood? In a world dedicated to convincing us that we’re entitled to more and more choice in our lives, It’s not just that partners want different things –it’s that they so often want both longevity and novelty, both excitement and stability, both deep attachment and plenty of individual freedom. No wonder there’s no relationship formula that works for every couple. Read more
By Rich Simon If you’re like me, polls and national surveys are one of your guilty pleasures. They’re an irresistible short-cut to figuring out the mindsets, interests, preoccupations and, often, the anxieties of larger chunks of humanity than most of us would otherwise encounter beyond the small circle of the people in our day-to-day world. Read more
By Rich Simon On the metaphorical list of “Things That Are Good for You” that the general public subscribes to, multivitamins have long occupied an unchallenged position of prominence. Backed by an industry that pulls in over $30 billion a year, supplement brands like Pfizer have claimed that their products ward off chronic illness, promote heart health, and otherwise improve on a balanced diet. Read more
By Rich Simon A few decades ago, when young therapists like myself watched Salvador Minuchin, Virginia Satir, Carl Whitaker, or other leading lights, it was like watching magicians—you didn’t know whether they were going to pull rabbits, iguanas, or some other strange, unexpected creatures out of the therapy hat. We watched as the clients they worked with changed before our eyes—becoming more alive, more open with one another, and more inventive in resolving their own problems. Take a few minutes to see it all come together in this classic video of Virginia Satir at the resolution of a family session. Read more
By Rich Simon In “Therapy Isn’t Brain Science,” a provocative article in the July/August Networker, Steve Andreas took aim at what he called psychotherapy’s collective case of “brain fever.” “The neuroscience information that’s currently in vogue seems primarily useful in convincing clients that we’re ‘experts’—that we have hard scientific knowledge about what’s happening inside their skulls,” wrote Andreas. “But so far I haven’t seen any persuasive direct application of neuroscience to the practice of therapy.”
By Rich Simon There was a time not so long ago that only those who had the time and money to attend workshops around the country had the opportunity for a close-up view of psychotherapy’s leading figures. I remember as a grad student my only access to people whose work I revered like Sal Minuchin, Virginia Satir, and Carl Whitaker — as much as I would have liked to swing by their offices to ask my endless list of clinical questions–was through their writing.
By Rich Simon Anybody who’s been making a living as a therapist in private practice for a while will readily tell you that things aren’t what they used to be. Sure, incomes are down. Reimbursements aren’t what they used to be. Referral sources have changed. It takes more effort and marketing savvy to keep a practice afloat. But many practitioners still carry on as if it were still 1980-something and their potential clients are fundamentally the same as those who sought therapy three or more decades ago.
By Rich Simon Not so many years ago, few respectable therapists would have incorporated anything like “mindfulness” or a so-called “mind-body” approach into their practice. Such words were redolent of New Agey, airy-fairy gobbledegook, not at all appropriate for the serious business of psychotherapy. The body was indeed a very useful physical means for conveying the mind to therapy, but once in session, everything below the neck might as well spend the next hour in Timbuktu for all its relevance to the therapeutic process. Read more
By Rich Simon These days, many noble and once well-remunerated occupations—like journalism and magazine publishing—seem in danger of declining into economic irrelevancy. And, not to unduly shock anybody reading this, the financial prospects of therapists aren’t looking too hot now, either. Not only are we told there are way too many of us—600,000 mental health professionals nationwide—for the population to sustain, but managed care has done its best to shrivel whatever pittance we used to be able to count on for our services. Read more