Rich Simon, PhD – Editor of Psychotherapy Networker, died in November 2020.
Here is the story of my relationship with this remarkable man:
I have been a licensed Psychologist for over 30 years. I cannot think of anyone else in the mental health field who has done as much as Rich Simon to help as many psychotherapists be introduced to the latest ideas, thoughts, practices and trends in the evolving field of Psychotherapy. In both the Psychotherapy Networker magazine and the annual Symposium, he introduced thousands of us to the giants in our field, and he did it with style, wit, and irreverence to old assumptions. I did not know Rich personally, but had an ongoing professional relationship with him for about 12 years. In those years I found him to be incredibly open-minded, fun, creative and playful. He was also a demanding editor who had a keen eye for what his audience needed, and the form in which they needed to receive it.
So how did I first meet Rich? Mel Restum and I had started Uncommon Practices in 2005. I said to Mel many times, “We need to get an article in the Psychotherapy Networker!” But the reality was that we didn’t know anyone who worked there, and submitting a blind article seemed to have a snowball’s chance in hell of being accepted for publication.
Well, one sunny day in August, 2006 I was at my Northern Michigan vacation home, sipping my coffee and reading a copy of the Psychotherapy Networker magazine. My eye caught an editorial which stated that the future of private practice was bleak. The piece made an analogy to calligraphers writing by hand when linotype machines came along in the 19th century. Managed-care was the modern Linotype operator swallowing up all private practitioners.
I was surprised – and a little angry – to read this editorial, because my practice was doing extremely well, and I was coaching quite a few other people who were doing very well. I was shocked that the magazine I had relied on for years to open my eyes to new trends was promoting such a limiting and pessimistic point of view. So I decided to write my first and last Letter to the Editor. Never in a million years did I expect the enormous consequences that came from that three paragraph email.
15 minutes after I hit send, I got the following reply from Rich himself:
Got your interesting letter about our column. I’d like to hear more about what you’re up to with your practice. When you get a chance, email me with good times to talk.
I was shocked, he personally reads letters to the editor? Wow. We talked three days later. He said I was the first person to tell him that private practice was working well. He wanted to understand what I was doing differently from the doom and gloom he was hearing from others all over the country. I explained that I had devoted a great deal of time and money to studying business principles and applying them to my practice. He asked a series of probing questions, clearly wanting to understand the mindset I had developed. At the end of a 45 minute phone call, Rich said he wanted me to write a feature article for his magazine, and present at the next symposium. I was elated.
I couldn’t believe it though – I was nobody to him. I did not have any publications or nationally known programs at the time. All he knew was that I was telling him something different that he was curious about and that he thought could be helpful to the field of psychotherapy. But I would come to learn that that was the exact spirit that permeated his work – he would consider promoting anyone with interesting ideas, regardless of how well-known they were. Hundreds of clinicians got to tell their story and help expand our collective thinking thanks to Rich.
After an extensive (and yes, somewhat painful) editing process, the article was released in the July 2007 issue of Psychotherapy Networker, with the title that How to Develop a Money Mindset: Investing for Success in Your Therapy Business. Thanks to Rich’s expert editing, the article was a huge success and stimulated a great deal of discussion about the importance of private practitioners studying business. It also became the springboard for hundreds of therapists first hearing about Uncommon Practices. I am honored and humbled to say that over the years since that article was published, many people have told me that this article was fundamental in changing their perspective about private practice. Best of all, many of these same people have become personal friends, and we have shared many stories of success together. Again this is Rich at his best – bringing kindred spirits together to share what works.
I wrote five more articles for the magazine; presented at the Symposium twelve times, and did several webinars with Rich. In all of these interactions, Rich was always knowledgeable, open to new ideas, intellectually curious, fun and playful. Those of you who have attended the Psychotherapy Networker symposium have seen him exhibit these qualities over and over, in his witty introductions of speakers, as well as his song and dance numbers at every Symposium.
Here we are at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium Presenter’s Party in 2015. He grabbed me and said “Let’s toast to the success of Internet Marketing!”
This is a terrible loss for the Psychotherapy community. We have lost a great man, clearly one of the main leaders of our tribe, who helped forge our path into the future with intelligence and fun. He will be sorely missed.
In this year of extreme loss and grief due to COVID, for me this is one of the hardest losses to accept. As I write this in the Fall of 2020, with even greater losses looming ahead, I am reminded of the importance of expressing gratitude for everyone in our lives; to acknowledge those who have made a difference, and thank those who have helped us cope in this most difficult year. It’s later than we think, and we do not know what the future holds while we are busy making other plans.
And to never forget that one small action, one short email or phone call can truly change your life, when it gets into the hands of the right person. So don’t be shy! Reach out! Thank you Rich for giving me a chance to share my experiences, and for all you have taught us by your example – a wonderful recipe for a life well-lived: Listen. Sing. Learn. Dance. Question. Support. Laugh. Discuss. Play. Connect. Hug. Share. Love!