Editor's Note

Editor's Note

By Livia Kent

January/February 2021

Longtime subscribers coming to this page are accustomed to seeing Rich Simon—wearing whatever brightly colored, button-down shirt he’d donned for his latest headshot. For 44 years, Rich was the editorial genius, Symposium ringmaster, and public persona of Psychotherapy Networker. And it saddens me tremendously that you’re not finding his face or words here today.

As many readers already know, Rich died in November—a devastating loss for his family, his numerous friends and colleagues, and the entire psychotherapy community. In one way or another, his exuberance and brilliance touched every one of us. So it’s particularly hard to take in the fact that after decades of struggling with bipolar disorder marked by episodes of severe depression, and after countless forms of treatment and support, Rich chose to take his life. That is the heartbreaking reality we’re all coming to terms with.

For therapists, who want more than anything to offer people hope and healing, this news hits especially hard. In the months and years ahead, we at the Networker plan to encourage a continuing conversation around the complex issues surrounding bipolar disorder, depression, and suicide. For now, as we keep Rich’s light in our hearts, our focus will be on celebrating his courageous spirit and contributions to the field. 

Our March/April issue, currently in the works, will be a cover-to-cover tribute to him, and we’ll do our best to capture his palpable joy in the creative process, searching intellect, compassionate mentoring, deep friendships, and unquenchable zest for connection.

Over the many years I worked hand-in-hand with Rich—along with so many talented people on the Networker team—we brainstormed ideas, guided writers, wrestled issues into shape, and met our deadlines (often just in the nick of time). Rich’s passion and enthusiasm made producing a bimonthly magazine an exhilarating adventure. Succeeding him now as editor of this publication, I’m committed to carrying on the tradition he established so well, and maintained for so long, of translating our field’s evolving perspectives into the most engaging, thoughtful writing we can generate.

Part of honoring Rich has been to complete and release this issue of the magazine, which explores how our current pandemic reality is affecting kids and their caregivers. As Rich and our editorial team crafted this issue throughout the fall, we often wondered whether the challenges of remote learning, isolation from peers, and spending too much time with stressed-out parents would still feel relevant as 2021 arrived, along with its promised vaccines.

Unfortunately, some of the topics our authors explore—helping kids cope with anxiety and uncertainty in a pandemic, working with schools to reach struggling students—have become even more pressing now. And other topics, such as confronting the deeply en­trenched racism that leads to the adultification of Black children and the denial of their pain, will remain sadly pertinent long after the pandemic has become history.

Who knows what lies ahead this year for children and the people who care for them? Will the unprecedented crisis we’re grappling with spur us to develop new approaches for supporting anxious kids, underserved kids, and overwhelmed schools and parents? Can we create more effective ways to help families under pressure?

These challenges might seem overwhelming, especially in these extraordinary times. But as Rich regularly reminded us, we don’t need to come up with all the answers: what’s important is that we keep asking the questions.

Rich was forever asking questions, ones that always seemed to blast past what we thought we knew about psychotherapy, and even the larger human experience. The legacy he left will keep inspiring us to push further and deeper in the quest for growth—in our communities, our clients, and ourselves.

With Love,

Livia Kent

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Sunday, February 21, 2021 8:44:41 PM | posted by Sarah Ruhl
I agree with what Marsha just wrote. Thank you for walking the talk-modeling transparency during a painful time, especially painful when one of your own (staff)/our own (a professional therapeutic colleague) takes his life. I started subscribing back when the Networker was The Family Therapy Networker. This journal has sustained my work more than any other book or training, as it covers all of the topics, but especially it gives me access to professionals who are willing to share their own foibles and successes, helping to educate but also importantly sharing that we all enter this field as humans first and that our imperfections, if we can be aware enough, are part of our growth and sometimes even part of our client's healing. I will greatly miss reading Rich's lead-in words, which were always so warm and inviting, but I perceive that his legacy will live on and that his offerings are quite woven into the Networker's team spirit and value system, so I know that we all remain in good hands. Thank you for all you continue to do, especially during the loss of Rich and during our international pandemic.

Saturday, February 20, 2021 1:09:14 PM | posted by Marsha Wadley
Thank you for the loving and honest letter by the editor, Livia. It’s beautifully done, and a model for truth telling and compassion for all of us. Marsha