I’m writing to speak for my grieving parts about a terrible loss for myself and for the field of psychotherapy. Rich Simon, the editor or the Psychotherapy Networker, died last week. Some of you will know him as the wild showman who hosted the Networker’s annual conference and was the star of the opening musical extravaganza each year. You can get a sense of his professional contribution from these loving tributes:
I want to let you know what he meant to me. I met Rich in 1980, pre-IFS, when I was a zealous family therapist with brand new Ph.D. and big hopes to make a contribution to the field. We connected at a family therapy conference quickly realized we saw the field in similar ways. We made an instant connection that turned into a deep friendship that lasted the next 40 years. I considered him my best friend— the person who, when something good or bad happened in my life, I would say to myself, “I can’t wait to tell Rich.”
He was brilliant— probably the smartest person I’ve ever known, and one of the funniest. The parts of me that felt less-than were thrilled that someone so smart and clever wanted to be my friend and my shy parts could live vicariously through watching his outrageously entertaining but out-there parts take over at dances or parties. In addition, we were basketball buddies and had intense one-on-one battles on courts all over the US and in Europe. He had an amazing outside shot and a smothering defense that would leave me bruised but also beaming inside, especially when I beat him. We supported each other through our divorces, financial crises with our businesses, and he was the male friend with whom I felt safe to reveal my most vulnerable parts. He had a rare combination of high intellect, warmth, sensitivity, combined with an ambition to heal the world.
He was also instrumental in the development of IFS although it took him quite a while to fully believe in the existence of parts. Despite that skepticism, he helped me write my first article about IFS called Our Multiple Selves for the Networker in 1987 and then a number of other pieces about IFS including one, in 2004 many of you have read because it’s on our website, called the Larger Self. Through the process of collaborating on those articles-- of being Simonized, which means you get your manuscript back with over half of it changed-- I learned to be the pretty good writer I am now. He also showcased me and IFS often at the Networker conference at which I presented 38 years in a row. He created a kind of Networker family of smart, aspiring therapist/presenters who would hang together each year at the conference, many of whom have also become my close friends. He loved my wife Jeanne and I loved his, Jette. We had many adventures as couples.
There are a number of interviews with Rich and me on youtube that can be found here.
When we met as 30-year-olds we would talk about transforming the field of psychotherapy in the way that grandiose Young Turks do. Here it is 40 years later I’m amazed at how much of those dreams have come true, despite how many parts we both had in our way. The IFS model and community owes Rich a massive debt of gratitude. There’s a huge hole in my life and in my heart with him gone. I’ve been very lucky to have had very few major losses and am finding the pain of this one to be intense and unremitting right now. I’m trying to care for my parts and am talking to many mutual friends, but this is a tough one. I appreciate your reading this far— it has helped to write this tribute to him and our relationship. If it feels right to you, please send him some Self energy.
Below is an obituary written by Fred Wistow who was Rich's best friend since high school. This will appear in the New York Times this week.
Richard Simon, 71, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, died on November 10, 2020. He is survived by his beloved wife Jette, his cherished daughter Signe and his grandson-to-be, Auguste.
Born in the Bronx, Rich studied English at the University of Rochester and earned a Ph.D in Psychology from the University of Maryland. After a brief stint as a clinical psychologist, he drew upon his vast writing, editing, entrepreneurial and networking skills to transform a small publication for therapists into the celebrated and award-winning journal, the Psychotherapy Networker. In time, the Networker grew in size and reputation to become not only a bi-monthly bible for psychotherapists and social workers but a window into the field for countless non-professionals who read and loved its unpretentious yet literate voice. Thousands of those psychotherapists and social workers made a pilgrimage each year from around the globe to attend the Networker Symposium in Washington, DC, a conference Rich joyously, yes, exuberantly, hosted. Together, the magazine and the conference informed and entertained readers and attendees alike, creating a community --a “tribe” Rich called it. His enthusiasm for learning, his appreciation of talent in all its manifestations, his reverence for the written word, his eagerness to nurture and develop new writers, his love of conversation –both as a wildly funny and creative speaker and an engaged and deeply attentive listener, his curiosity in exploring new vistas in the field of first family therapy and then psychotherapy, and his commitment to making the tribe aware of what was new in therapy --what worked and what didn't --inspired hundreds of thousands of practitioners, presenters, attendees, readers and contributors for over forty years. His infectious wit and outgoing personality charmed and delighted everyone he touched. And --he would not want it to go unmentioned-- he was a great basketball player. There was absolutely no one like him. And there never will be. One of a kind, a force of nature, he will be missed by his Networker crew, his family, his friends and his tribe.
A memorial service will be held sometime next year.