Individual, marital, and family therapy. Trauma Recovery. Rational Emotive Therapy and EMDR.
Linda Simmons began her peripatetic career in counseling and psychotherapy in a low key, classically “Evansville-ian¨way: she was born and grew up at as a “West Sider” in Evansville, and graduated from Rex Mundi High School 1968.
Even as a child she was precocious. She started kindergarten at age four and set out to be “the best reader in the class” because her school had doubts about her ability to “make it¨ in the big world of kindergarten at that tender young age. Although she was troubled as being a “teeny kid, sick with tonsillitis,” and a self-described “poster child for UNICEF,” she had her tonsils out and became robustly healthy and energetic ever since. Linda recalls: “They took those tonsils out and it was all over!”
Her future career direction began to come into focus when she asked her Dad in the 7th grade what she could be when she grew up. Her Dad told her, “Anything you want to be,” certainly a powerful message. After being told that she could be either a teacher, nurse, nun, or housewife, however, Linda wanted to know, “Is that all? Could I be a counselor?” Her father went to interview a therapist to find out “if girls could be a psychiatric social worker.”
Finding out that the answer was a definite “Yes!”, Linda finished her high school education, then attended Indiana University receiving her undergraduate degree in 1972 and graduating summa cum laude with her Master’s in Social Work in 1974 at the age of 23. Since that time, Linda has also had post-graduate training in Rational Emotive Therapy and Redecision Therapy (Transactional Analysis and Gestalt), and most recently, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) in which she is certified.
Linda began her career at Evansville Psychiatric Children’s Center immediately after receiving her graduate degree, and served as a psychotherapist there for three years. While there, she met her future husband, Jeff, another therapist. The couple then worked at Family Service of America (now the Lampion Center).
Because of her graduate degree and obvious capability, Linda subsequently became the Department Chair in Social Work and an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Indiana while still in her twenties. Living “a dream come true,” Linda worked there for four years, teaching students and becoming a talented administrator. Her love of teaching and presenting (and her lifelong pattern of not avoiding controversy or intellectual provocation) was manifested in a paper that she prepared: “Sparking, Spooking, and Spinning in Social Work Practice: The Moral Imperative to Teaching the Feminist Perspective.” This paper was selected as an outstanding paper for presentation at the state conference for social workers in Indiana that year. Linda was also selected as one of the Outstanding Young Woman of America during her time at USI.
While heading up the Social Work Department at USI, Linda, set up linkages with other universities in the state that had BSW programs including IU, Indiana State, and Ball State University. She then set up getting the course work in the social work program at USI credentialed as valid for social work programs at these other institutions. Then, when the University of Evansville closed their social work program, Linda applied for certification of the Bachelor of Social Work program for USI, wrote the curriculum proposals and got it certified.
Following that intense period of work, Linda followed a lifelong dream of living in Florida in sunnier climes, and she and her husband moved to Sarasota. While there, Linda became a director of a group home for disturbed adolescents in 1984, and then worked as network consultant for a seven county district to facilitate the network of major service systems in providing a full continuum of care and an improvement in efficiency and effectiveness of services to severely emotionally disturbed children. During this period, she facilitated the creation of a cooperative pre-school day treatment, something that people said could not be done. It took one year to get all the players together. The YMCA provided the classroom, one of the mental health agencies got a grant and provided a therapist, and the school system provided a teacher and aide for the children labeled as severely emotionally disturbed children. Then Linda took the job as the teacher for the program, leaving the previous network that she had built to return to primary clinical work.
Linda recalls: “We had to get beyond the concept of putting the ‘SED’ [Socially/Emotionally Disturbed] label on the children. The goal was to prevent kindergarten failure. These were kids that were kicked out of six to seven day care centers. Some had fetal alcohol syndrome, one burned down houses, and one was gifted but incorrigible. They were boys and girls. One was nicknamed ‘Hurricane’; he started each day under the table.”
This program that Linda created won the Golden Gavel Award from the Sarasota Herald Tribune as the most innovative new children’s program that year. Linda subsequently wrote the report to the Florida Department of Education about the results of the development of this program.
Following this triumph and looking for more challenges, Linda then went to work for Apogee, a company that provided mental health services for nursing homes. She was the Team Leader for Tampa Bay, the area that has the highest rate of nursing homes per capita in the nation. In her position, she supervised others licensed clinical social workers as well as a neuropsychologist for four years.
Linda was then selected as the Director of Social Service for a 180-bed nursing home in Venice, FL, before being lured back to Evansville to become the director of Life Choices (a home for homeless pregnant teenagers). Because of her breakthrough work in Florida coordinating state agencies and getting them working together, she then went to work at Saint Mary’s as the Grant Coordinator for a grant to the Ob-Gyn department from the U.S. Department of Health, the purpose of which was to increase the accessing of existing resources by the poor, especially for children.
Following that experience, Linda worked with the hospice program of the local Visiting Nurse Association, then was recruited back to St. Mary’s where she served as the interim manager of the St. Mary’s Center for Children.
During this time, Linda also worked for six years as the President of the Step Ahead Council. This organization was mandated to do interagency collaborative work to increase the full continuum of services to children. She did this while at St. Mary’s, VNA, and Life Choice. She went from being the newsletter editor, then to the vice-presidency, and then the President.
“I learned a lot from all those things,” she recalls modestly.
In the spring of 2007, Linda was enjoying a small part-time clinical practice in Evansville as well as some charity work when she happened to attended a lecture given locally by Dr. Cady. Dr. Cady recalls being astonished at Linda’s intellectual passion and her style of “playing full out” in terms of the didactic nature of the presentation he made, and invited her to come in for an interview. She was hired on the spot and the two of them have been happily collaborating every since. Regarding Dr. Cady, Linda has commented, “In a just world, he would have been my brother.”
Linda’s expertise, although it is cloaked in ultimate professionalism and sensitivity to the patient, lies in a sort of “psychological bare knuckles approach” to getting down to the roots of the problem. Her strength is that she can bring her lifetime of experience – both clinical and academic – to the patient encounter of working with disturbed children or teenagers, dysfunctional families, and women or men troubled with trauma issues with a corrupted sense of their own interpersonal boundaries and do it with great sensitivity, kindness, and her trademark zestful sense of humor. After that, she begins kindly, empathically, but efficiently starting the healing process.
In the spring of 2008, and in addition to her work as a psychotherapist at CWI, Linda began collaborating with Dr. Whitney Gabhart and Dr. Cady on a breakthrough weight loss program integrating the three modalities of behavior change and performance optimization that Dr. Cady espouses: a biological, psychological, and behavioral approach. With her trademark intellectual honesty, this self-described “bariatric surgery failure,’ as well as Dr. Gabhart (who, using principles of physiological and hormonal optimization, has already lost the equivalent of a 200 pound man from inside her body) are teaming up with Dr. Cady to deliver a stunningly effective, integrated weight loss program that is certain to draw regional and national attention. Linda and Dr. Gabhart are also using this program themselves, with remarkable results already achieved. Photos of their adventure and progress will be available on the web site.
And at Cady Wellness Institute, Linda’s humor, passion for life, and love of working with her patients and clients continues to brighten not only our patients’ lives, but ours as well.