For me, as for most people on this planet, the past year has brought more unexpected challenges than I ever imagined taking on at one time. One of the hardest has been losing my friend and mentor, Rich Simon, whose extraordinary life and work we celebrated in the last issue. Over the past six months, I’ve done my best to weave his passionate, creative spirit into the fiber of my daily work as I step out from behind the Networker curtain, where I happily lurked in editorial anonymity for almost nine years. As I take on my new role as editor in chief, I’m profoundly grateful for the loving support of the community that Rich built and nurtured over four decades.
One of the great privileges of my job is the chance to help authors plumb their experiences doing therapy—the challenges, the revelations, the creative detours, the unexpected satisfactions—and bring them onto the page in an engaging way. The rewards of providing this editorial guidance continue to grow, even as I’m encountering an altogether different kind of deadline than what I’m used to in the publishing world—the birth of a baby. As I write this, I’m a week away from my due date. And, despite some genuine jitters about what it will be like to juggle two enormous responsibilities—a job I’m devoted to and a baby I’m already immeasurably in love with—I feel ready.
As I face these upcoming challenges, I’m inspired by the courage of the therapists featured in this issue, who are stretching beyond their customary professional roles to apply their clinical skills in new ways. It takes commitment, an adventurous spirit, and often it’s a juggling act. But their common goal—and their passion—is to expand access to those too often shut out of the mental health system.
This doesn’t mean just making therapy affordable, although that’s crucial. It also means, literally, going places—venturing out to help people in spaces as unexpected as a tech-company conference room, a recording studio in a South Bronx high school, the church basement of a Native American services center, and a Florida-based court of law. In one case, it even means leaving dry land and stepping into the Pacific Ocean.
The therapists in this issue are able to do this because they’re committed to listening in a different way, moving beyond conventional therapeutic assumptions to respond to the particular concerns, traditions, and needs of the communities they’re serving. Expertise matters less than empathy. Leadership looks more like partnership. As one author observes, “We’ve expanded the frame of what a therapeutic encounter can be.”
The effort to make therapy more elastic isn’t an unprecedented endeavor, of course. For a while now, innovative clinicians have been taking therapy to new places, both literally and figuratively, especially as the pandemic has pushed us to expand what we can offer. But as we slowly begin to emerge from our homes—or can imagine doing so soon—fresh ideas about how and where we can do this thing called “therapy” will continue to flourish. Let’s keep listening to each other!
Editor in Chief
Livia Kent, MFA, is the editor in chief of Psychotherapy Networker. She worked for 10 years with Rich Simon as managing editor of Psychotherapy Networker, and taught writing at American University as well as for various programs around the country. As a bibliotherapist, she’s facilitated therapy groups in Washington, DC-area schools and in the DC prison system. In 2020, she was named one of Folio Magazine’s Top Women in Media “Change-Makers.” She’s the recipient of Roux Magazine‘s Editor’s Choice Award, The Ledge Magazine‘s National Fiction Award, and American University’s Myra Sklarew Award for Original Novel.