With the economy going off a cliff, some of us have vowed to stop reading the newspaper or surfing the news on the Internet. After all, it can’t be good for our mental health to be continually hammered by word of fresh disasters. At the same time, we can’t cover our ears and shut our eyes with our clients—if we still have clients—who may be spending their therapy sessions wringing their hands and moaning about the perilous state of their 401Ks. And, whatever brought them into therapy—depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marital problems—the prospect of being laid off or dropping 50 percent of their net worth can’t do much for their state of mind.

The problem is that, these days, we often feel we’re in the same leaky boat they are. How can we help clients surmount their own fears of drowning if we’re not sure we’ll make it to dry land? How do we make our own practices more financially seaworthy so we get through this storm with our professional lives intact?

In this issue, we take a look at what Meltdown America reveals about our collective psyche, and provide some practical, perhaps surprising, guidelines to therapists about their own economic survival. Believe it or not, you may be able to use the crisis not only to grow, but to radically improve your practice.

In “Easy Money,” Fred Wistow takes a wry, penetrating look at the generational shifts in our thinking (and dreaming) about money over the last half-century, including the recent period of mass financial delusion that now appears to be coming to an end. He concludes that this abrupt halt to the fairy tale that many of us have been living may not be such a bad thing for our collective sanity.

As budgetary belt-tightening becomes the order of the day, April Benson reminds us that, at its core, the experience of shopping is anything but frivolous. “Shopping isn’t about buying, it’s about being,” Benson argues. “It’s a conscious act, an essential process of search, an experience of learning and living we engage in all the time.”

In “Recession-Proof Your Practice,” Lynn Grodzki argues that bad times can mean good opportunities for building up our practices and helping us rediscover our own resilience, creativity, and leadership—if we’re willing to actively rethink the way we work. Casey Truffo goes even further in “Pink-Spoon Marketing,” boldly suggesting that therapists must look for ways of working beyond the classic private-practice model. “We need to think more broadly about what we can offer the world and how to communicate to as many people as possible,” Truffo writes. We need to devise a model that supports us when the economy is booming and doesn’t desert us when the economy is tanking.” Amen to that!

It’s a different world out there than it was even a few months ago—and often a scary one. But no matter what happens, people will always need and seek out wise, empathetic mind-and-spirit healers, particularly when life turns harsh. Our challenge will be to not only help our clients bring their energy, intelligence, and imaginations to the task of getting their boats back to shore, but marshalling those same qualities in navigating for ourselves through the rough seas ahead.

Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.