We are profoundly sorry to have to share with you the tragic news of the death of the longtime editor and very heart and soul of Psychotherapy Networker, Rich Simon.
This sudden, unexpected loss is devastating for his family. And it will be extremely painful to bear for his many friends and colleagues, for readers of the Networker, who communed with his voice and vision each time a new issue arrived in the mail, and for our entire psychotherapy community—which he not only reported on for more than 40 years, but helped to shape and stretch. Though Rich would never have described himself this way, he truly was a giant in our field. Our hearts go out to everyone who is facing the shock and sadness of losing him.
Rich was the magazine’s editor, yes. But as anyone who ever encountered him knows, the term editor barely begins to describe this insatiably curious, deeply generous, and ridiculously talented man, who launched the careers of so many of our field’s luminaries, and made every person he worked with feel like a luminary in their own right.
From the very start, when he and a few like-minded souls gathered around his kitchen table to produce a newsletter called The Family Shtick, he devoted the publication to asking provocative questions about seemingly settled clinical issues, inspiring therapists to examine these realms with fresh eyes, and perhaps begin to work with clients in creative new ways. And his vision was doggedly inclusive. Always, always, he insisted that his authors write in ordinary English rather than murky journal-ese, thereby welcoming a wider audience of nonprofessionals eager to learn more about the human psyche and spirit.
In his role as editor, Rich coached countless clinicians to become eloquent writers, tirelessly talking with them on the phone, sometimes for hours, about how to make their pieces not just informative, but irresistibly readable. He was at once exacting and encouraging: at some point, nearly every Networker author heard the classic Rich-ism: “You’re almost there! Just one more draft!” And many felt more than a bit of pride when complaining they’d been “Simonized.” Over the years, his brilliance and determination transformed that humble newsletter into an award-winning magazine, relied on and honored by therapists all over the world.
When Rich wasn’t nurturing therapist-authors, developing themes for future issues, and racing to meet deadlines, he immersed himself in his other signature role—that of super-host of the annual Networker Symposium. At this festival of community and learning, Rich was perhaps most thoroughly Rich—a master of ceremonies, somehow simultaneously authoritative, gloriously high-spirited, and shamelessly goofy. No one who witnessed his once-a-year turn as song-and-dance man—complete with top hat, cane, and a pretty impressive shuffle step—will ever forget it. In those moments, and so many others, he ignited all our hearts.
There is so much to miss about Rich, it stuns the mind. He was a mentor, instigator, idea-man, shepherd, showman, cheerleader, iconoclast, editorial genius. No box could contain him. But if you had the temerity to tell him that you couldn’t find the words to express all he was, he’d just laugh and say, “That’s no excuse. Keep writing.”
It’s terribly hard to take in that Rich is gone. We will be honoring him in many ways in the weeks and months to come, and will let you know about these opportunities to grieve and celebrate him.
For now, we invite you to leave your messages and reflections here.
In grief and love,
The staff of Psychotherapy Networker
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