There are plenty of times—particularly as deadlines loom—when putting out a magazine feels like being on a treadmill that’s moving too fast. Just about the time we finally get the thing to the printers (always behind schedule, of course), we’re beginning the headlong rush to meet deadlines for the next issue. sometimes, it all seems to go by in a blur, as issue after issue after issue comes and goes, comes and goes.
But there’s something about anniversaries that makes most of us stop and take a long look back to gain a sense of perspective on what, exactly, we’ve been doing all these years. Pouring over the Networker archives in preparation for this issue, I’m continually amazed at how looking at a 10- or 20- or 30-year-old magazine brings back an almost visceral memory of what it was like to produce that issue, and the urgency we felt about getting across the particular ideas it contained. Besides providing one supercharged blast from the past after another, reviewing all the magazines from beginning to end—every damn one—has been like being swooped up to an eagle’s-eye view of the therapy world. I could get a sense of the general dimensions of therapy’s terrain over time, so to speak, and begin to grasp our role in helping to define and articulate it. Above all, when I consider this whole, lengthy excursion in print, what emerges is a shared story, a 30-year narrative of the field’s history and fortunes: its daring explorations of unknown, possibly dangerous new territory (spirituality! energy therapies! Brain science!), its near-death experiences (recovered Memory, Managed care, the pharmaceutical Juggernaut), new knowledge taken into the therapy mainstream (Mindfulness practice, attachment theory, Mind-Body approaches), and the fads that didn’t pan out, at least for mainstream therapists (transactional analysis, the Milan approach, ordeal therapy). All therapy is about stories—the stories clients tell therapists and the (we hope) more truthful and helpful stories therapists and clients construct together. Therapy itself is really a story, or stories, about why people suffer, how they heal, and what therapists can do to promote the latter. In a sense, this magazine is a kind of meta-story—or meta-meta story—about all those other stories, a narrative in which we’re both the tellers and the told.
In this case, each magazine is a new chapter of a story which, as has been the case since the invention of movable type in 1439, is still printed in ink on paper, between covers, which you hold in your hand. I must say, although we’ve established a sizeable Web presence over the last few years (don’t forget—www.psychotherapynetworker.org), I’m astonished and delighted that quite a few people still like the feel of “real” magazines and get some sort of little rush when they go their mailbox and see the Networker sitting there. of course, I’m a pushover for magazines—I’ve always loved them. For me, there’s no pleasure quite like going off into a corner (or to the neighborhood café) with a new magazine under my arm and, in one of life’s great little paradoxes, connecting with the whole world—or whatever part of it interests me—via the solitary act of reading and turning pages (the feel of page-turning is very important for us old-style magazinophiles).
Meanwhile, the story continues, with all its unpredictable plot twists and character developments, its villains and heroes. We don’t have any idea where we’re headed or what will happen next—that’s part of the charm of this business. But as we head off into the fourth decade of our existence, we hope you join us on the trek, and, however unfashionable it’s becoming, keep reading.
Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.