Bill Meyer, MSW, BCD (1950 - 2021)
Deceased August 11, 2021 | Posted August 18, 2021
For a comprehensive bibliography, see:
Works by Bill Meyer »
It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that our beloved friend, colleague, Past President of AAPCSW Bill Meyer passed away on August 11th, after battling a serious health problem.
Many members know Bill from his posts on the listserv, his presentations, and meeting him at conferences. We will be collecting tributes in his honor.
A brief biography
Bill was President of AAPCSW (October 1, 1999 – September 30, 2001), then founded and chaired the North Carolina area of the AAPCSW. Through his collaborative leadership, three national AAPCSW conferences were held in Durham, NC, and he was conference consultant for many years. He also introduced the film series for our conferences starting in 2013.
William S. (“Bill”) Meyer, MSW, BCD, was Director of Training for Social Work and Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Ob/Gyn at Duke University Medical Center. He practiced in Duke's high-risk obstetrics clinic and taught and supervised social work interns and 3rd year psychiatry residents at Duke for over 30 years. Additionally, he was on the Faculty of the Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas, the University of North Carolina, and Smith College. He lectured and published clinical papers on a variety of mental health topics, including the painful history of Psychiatry and the LGBTQ+ community. He was in private practice in Durham, NC.
Bill received many prestigious awards for his teaching and clinical work, including Social Worker of the Year from the NC Society of Clinical Social Work (1998), the Heart of Social Work Award from the North American Field Educators and Directors of the Council On Social Work Education (1999), the Edith Sabshin Teaching Award from the American Psychoanalytic Association (2004), the Day-Garrett Award by the Smith College School for Social Work (2010), and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work (2011). He was the one who trained the most interns from the UNC School of Social Work.
Bill taught the introductory course in psychoanalysis through the Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas for more than 25 years. Bill was also a former President of the NC Society for Clinical Social Work and Secretary and Elected Distinguished Practitioner of the National Academies of Practice. He served on the editorial boards of Psychoanalytic Social Work and the Clinical Social Work Journal.
Bill's video on Post-Partum Depression (PPD) is on this site:
As his colleagues in North Carolina wrote – His lucid presentations of complex psychoanalytic ideas and his generosity of spirit gained him the respect and love of generations of students. He will always be in our hearts.
In sympathy and collective mourning --
~ Barbara Berger, Joel Kanter, Natalie Peacock-Corral, Penny Rosen
Oh my. This is incredibly sad news. Thank you for sharing. Sincerely,
~ Kate Leslie – Boulder, CO
This is shockingly sad news. Bill was a giant in our field, a significant contributor, brilliant clinician, and teacher, so generous, and finally a pure definition of mensch. I will miss him, his work, and his posts. Rest In Peace dear friend. Sadly,
~ Mark D. Smaller – Douglas, MI
The world of clinical social work is poorer. We lost our dear Professor, Master, and brother William S. Meyer, (Bill Meyer). His legacy of wisdom, excellence, and generosity will remain for many generations of clinical social workers. We have a facebook page and it was called “Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work” now it is: “Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work Page Professor William S. Meyer.” January 2020 Bill and Gale visited Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, where I was born and live. We had a great time together with my family. I'm sending some photos as a contribution and his paper that I had translated into Portuguese. My heart is broken. Bill, thanks for everything, dear brother. God bless you and your Family.
~ Sonia G. M. Seixas – Bahia, Brazil
I'm so sorry to hear this sad and shocking news. In the few brief emails I've exchanged with Bill, I felt the force of his knowledge, depth and warmth. I will be thinking of Bill, his family and the many who were fortunate to have known him, my condolence. With sympathy,
~ Sandra Sinicropi – Montclair, NJ
I am so sad that Bill has passed away. He was an extraordinary individual—warm, unassuming, dedicated, and intelligent. Bill was an anchor for those of us who knew him and represented the best of our tradition as psychoanalytically oriented clinical social workers. May his memory be for a blessing.
~ Alan Levy – Northfield, IL
Tributes such as this one usually end in – “He will be missed.” When it comes to Bill, I must begin with that, and, more personally, I will miss very much. I knew Bill's talent, skill and commitment as a teacher, supervisor, and writer through our wonderful list-serve, and those who were the recipients of his talent. It was through the special role and spirit he brought to the AAPCSW Board Meetings that I knew him personally in action and non-action, his just being there. His influence was immeasurable. and the definition of positive and constructive. I learned so much from him, simply seeing him and interacting with him. Bill's legacy is great and rich. He was a special person and so generous that his legacy will be, all-the-more, far-reaching. I feel very fortunate to have known and worked with him. All best,
~ Janet Burak – New York, NY
What sad, sad news. Bill was - and will always be - a very thoughtful, empathetic good person who gave so much to so many.
~ Kerry Malawista, Potomac, MD, and McLean, VA
My sadness, too, is deep, upon learning of Bill's passing. I did not know him personally but felt his generosity as a mentor in AAPCSW and with his students, and his devotion to his patients. We have lost a leader in our field and our organization and for those who were close to him this must be a profound loss. We are lucky to have known him and will be the beneficiaries of his legacy. All the best,
~ Jane Abrams – Philadelphia, PA
I am very sad to hear this news. While I met Bill very recently, during a conference in 2019, I was immediately moved by his kindness, sensibility, and humanity. His presentation "Long term therapy in the rear-view mirror" brought me, and I know many others, to tears. His warmth and his generosity came through like a beam of light in every interaction we had ever since, and he quickly became someone I looked up to. This is such a loss. Warm regards to everyone who knew and loved Bill,
~ Santiago Delboy – Chicago, IL
Thanks for these pics, Sonia. Having never had the honor to meet Bill in person, I appreciated seeing him come alive through your images. It certainly looked like he was SO full of life and enjoying himself to the fullest. It looks like Bill is still teaching us all lessons from the other side. Such a wonderful teaching for us all to receive, especially in the midst of our grief.
~ Dave Schweichler – New York, NY
Bill was such a quiet giant in the field. He was ever so generous, so kind, so attuned to his patients, such a wonderful and curious scholar and friend. We will all miss his humor, his leadership, his respectful discourse, his colleagueship. Through Smith, I knew Bill for over 35 years, and thereafter I have treasured our times together. What a sad loss for us all.
~ Joan Berzoff – Northampton, MA
From Chile to give my condolences to your family, colleagues, and friends of whom for me is one of the great exponents of psychoanalysis in social work, it is really a very sad loss. Greetings.
~ Rosa Barria Segovia – Santiago, Chile
Hearing of Bill's death leaves me almost speechless. So shocking and so sad. He truly was a quiet and gentle giant. One of the many things I admired about Bill is how his written word via email emanated such warmth. I could feel his physical presence. A huge loss to me and to our community. With sadness,
~ Cecilia McKay – North Bethesda, MD
Very sad news indeed. Bill clearly was one of the North Stars of our psychoanalytically oriented profession. Internalizing his gifts to us and passing them on as we train those who didn't benefit from his insight is a must. As we advocate for the importance of psychoanalytic/psychodynamic curriculum in MSW training we must keep in mind Bill Meyer and his stressing of the importance. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to dialogue with him and see him present on numerous occasions to the Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work.
~ Janice Berry Edwards – Washington, DC
I first met Bill in 1999 when I enrolled in the psychotherapy course he co-taught with Harold Kudler in what is now called Thinking Psychoanalytically: The Basics. That course provided me with a firm foundation in psychoanalytic thinking and listening. But it was not just from the lectures, discussion, and readings. A lot had to do with being around and taking in Bill as a person with a fine mind, a gentle heart, patience, and generosity of spirit. I always feel grateful for that year of excellent learning with Bill and Harold. More recently, Bill encouraged me to return to North Carolina from my home in Ithaca, NY, for the 2019 meetings of AAPCSW. I had a wonderful experience and not a little was due to spending time with Bill. He was so warm and generous; he had a way of being so tuned-in and present. I immediately felt at home and at ease in a place that had not been home for many years. I heard Bill speak knowledgeably and sensitively about Post-Partum Depression at the Grand Rounds at SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, NY. I understand that they invited him back two years in a row (something I'd never heard of) in part because they found him to be such a mensch. Among the definitions of mensch I find in Leo Rosten's The Joys of Yiddish are: an upright, honorable, decent person and also someone of consequence, someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. This really fits the Bill I've come to know. I am deeply saddened by our loss and know that many who admire Bill will strive to work with his legacy. With a heavy heart,
~ Michelle Kwintner – Ithaca, NY.
Ahhh. Just read this. Indeed, a sad shock. Bill brought true kindness & authentic exchange no matter how ‘well’ he knew you. I felt both a keen mind and sweet heart in him. His passing is a true loss to our profession and organization, and yet, he leaves such a large footprint. Indeed, he will be missed AND remembered by many far and wide.
~ Karen Redding, Laguna Beach, CA.
Such sad news indeed. I knew Bill through the AAPCSW Board, and our regular visits to North Carolina for our Biennial Conferences there. A consummate host, Bill opened his home and heart to many of us. His wisdom and scholarly curiosity as teacher and student were palpable, most notably in his treatment of ‘marginalized populations’, and his noteworthy historicizing of the treatment of LGBTQ patients by psychoanalysis for many years. His positive and respectful demeanor were only matched by his gentle and kind manner, anyone in his presence felt truly ‘recognized’. To my mind, Bill quintessentially personified what it means to be a '‘psychoanalytic social worker’. I was grateful to have known him. Condolences to Gale and Bill's family. May his memory live on as a gift and blessing for us all.
~ Lou Pansulla – Brooklyn, NY.
My heart goes out to Gail and Bill's family for what they must be going through making sense out of his death. As a contemporary of Bill's, I can only imagine what that must be like. Bill lived up to the spirit of an examined life, willing to evaluate biases in our psychoanalytic thinking and use his personal evolution to help others in our field. He and I met over 30 years ago when he became president of AAPCSW. He was always generous in his support of myself and many others in promoting social work psychoanalytic thinking. I will miss seeing him at our various in-person meetings. Best to all,
~ Cathy Siebold, New York, NY, and Cambridge, MA.
Having known Bill for over 30 years since we were both on the NMCOP (predecessor to AAPCSW) Board, I cannot believe he is gone. He has been a rock of empathy, knowledge, and kindness. Not only did our paths cross professionally and personally many times through the years; Bill was a huge help to close personal friends whose grandson had Tay-Sachs and sought treatment in the hospital where he worked. He gave them the family tremendous support and comfort. His memory will be a blessing to us all.
~ Laura Groshong – Seattle, WA.
Bill's death is such a loss! Bill was a great leader; he made things happen. He taught his social work students practice from a psychoanalytic foundation. His following at Smith is legion. He understood how grounding psychoanalytic insights can be in sustaining authentically integrated professional humane respect for the people we social workers serve. His LGBTQ GWSCSW Alice Kassabian lecture filled our DC social work community with tears of regret, pain, grief, thanks, and celebration. Bill taught Duke medical students and psychiatric, ob/gyn residents to practice and understand their patients via a psychoanalytic lens. He knew how to bring psychoanalytic theory to life...observe the children, he'd say. More later will be said about the organizations and people Bill inspired, founded, mentored, supported to flourish like, for example, our own AAPCSW. His legacy will live on. I am sad, sad beyond words, to lose Bill. My professional aching heart has few words except to insist that Bill's legacy must live on. He practiced fully to his last days. His legacy is now in our hands.
~ Audrey Thayer Walker – Washington, DC.
I share all the heartfelt praise and admiration for a deeply committed man who gave so much to the field. Bill counseled, wrote, taught, mentored, and led. His gifts were amazing, and he gave of them so generously. But what I hope we can all remember about Bill is so much more about him as a whole man. He loved his family and reveled in time spent with his wife, Gale, his children, and grandchildren. He played music, he had a goofy fun sense of humor, he even loved a bit of video poker. (I especially appreciate him trying to teach me the strategy of that game — but, I never quite got it.) His creativity was endless. When visiting, Bill planned all kinds of things from wafting on the Eno River to exploring the Ava Gardner Museum. Once Bill surprised me by taking me to dinner in a hotel with glass enclosed bathroom facilities that fogged when you locked the door. Bill, Gale, and I hiked, shopped, went to theater, dinners and ate ice cream. Perhaps there is no better way to illustrate this complex, and nuanced-man, than to add that he played the guitar and sang with the Elvis impersonator at one of our conferences in Durham. He co-chaired the conference, he spoke at break-out sessions, and he joined in the entertainment at dinner. I hope he will be remembered, always, as the wonderful complex whole person he was. I am thankful to Bill for all the wonderful moments and how much he gave to us all.
~ Barbara Berger – Chicago, IL.
Bill's passing is a shock and an immense loss for our field and for AAPCSW. His contributions were varied and enormous. Such sad news.
~ Samoan Barish – Santa Monica, CA.
What a shock and terribly sad. I echo comments of others. We first met in the late 80s at a board meeting of NMCOP, the predecessor to AAPCSW. He was kind, interested, way smart, so open-minded. a great loss to the world. my condolences to his family and all his friends and colleagues.
~ Bill Etnyre – Memphis, TN.
Bill welcomed me with open arms into AAPCSW and into his home on several occasions when I was a new graduate struggling to find my footing in social work. When I interviewed him by email for my blog on Psych Today a few months ago, I had no idea he was so ill. He will be so missed, especially by the many students, interns, and residents whose lives he touched. My condolences to those who knew him closely, and to his family.
~ Mark Ruffalo – Lakeland, FL.
I am so very sad to hear the news of Bill's passing. I first met Bill shortly after we had our daughter – we were in his class for new parents at Duke. I, being in graduate school, thought on that very first day of class, “I want to learn more from this guy.” More than anything, in that class I felt that his were the most wonderful words anyone could hear as a new mother. Little did I know what an impression he and his teaching would make for me as a new clinical social worker (15 years ago!). That said, my path crossed with Bill's as a student, a new therapist, and occasionally in my work at Duke in various ways through the years. Bill's voice and presence was one of great warmth, intelligence, and grace. His determination to keep sharing and teaching seemed immeasurable. I didn't know him well, but observed that he had such an authentic way of remembering people. He was generous with requested guidance and was as quick as anyone to return an email with one of the many questions I've had here at Duke (even just a few weeks ago!). I have often found myself saying “well…Bill Meyer will know that for sure.” I and many will most certainly feel his absence in our community. I know hundreds … maybe even thousands of folks have been touched by his compassion and wisdom over his life and career. My heartfelt condolences to his family and to us all for the loss of one of the great ones! His is a voice that was surely taken in. With warm regards,
~ Anna Kirby – Durham, NC.
So very sad to hear of Bill's loss. I did not have the opportunity to get to know him well but the little I experienced was enough to know of his fine character, generosity, and wisdom. My condolences to all who have worked closely with him and loved him.
~ Elizabeth Corpt – Arlington, MA.
I join with all of the notes of sadness at Bill's passing. Warm wishes and sympathy to Gale and his daughters, who he loved dearly and of whom he was very proud. As so many have said, Bill was an incredible colleague, friend, mentor, teacher, writer, speaker, and therapist. We have lost a truly important person in our field and in our lives. We will miss him terribly. With sadness,
~ F. Diane Barth – Great Barrington, MA, and New York, NY.
I also want to share my love and praise for Bill and the loss I feel in his death. I met Bill in The Basics class through the PECC. I was privileged to receive supervision from him and later work with him for a short time at Duke's high-risk obstetrics clinic. Bill taught us that even the briefest of interactions was an opportunity for a psychoanalytic moment. Bill demonstrated a powerful ability to convey empathy and make connection in most of his communications, whether through instruction, a responsive and insightful email, or a warm greeting. When he closed his eyes and spoke, it was as if he was accessing the resources of the vast library of his mind and soul for whomever was listening. When he offered comfort after learning of my father's death, he began with “The death of a parent is a unique loss.” Those words, along with his careful intonation and a sense of his own experience, allowed me to fully experience the complexity of what I was going through. I would say that the death of a beloved mentor is also such a “unique loss.” I am so grateful to the Illinois Chapter for hosting his presentation in May and that I was able to attend virtually. I had heard the material before but was moved by my need to reconnect with him after moving to Oregon 9 years ago. As usual after his speech ended, he stayed on Zoom to connect with his audience. I was able to greet him and express my gratitude for his insight and generosity over the years and how much it has influenced me personally and professionally. Of course, now I realize that this small interaction was our good-bye, one more gift for which I thank him. Bill was the embodiment of love, and I hope we all will be able to tap into that powerful source and continue to give it away as freely as he did. “Best,”
~ Leslie Anderson Freck – Eugene, OR.
What a devastating loss for the world. I did not know Bill personally, but I also had the privilege of attending his presentation of his book chapter "Long term therapy in the rear-view mirror" at the 2019 conference, and I, too, was moved to tears. I also was very inspired by the chapter he contributed to the book Falling Through the Cracks, co-edited by Joan Berzoff, about the work he has done with mothers in the OBGYN clinic. I think I first encountered that chapter in grad school. I was struck by the genuine tenderness apparent in his work with patients over his long career. He seemed to operate from a place of love in the purest sense of the word. I am sure many grad students and newer clinicians have been inspired by his work, his writing, and his teaching and I can only imagine what a loss this is to those who know him personally, his family, and his patients. I can't recall if he was slated to present at the upcoming conference in Philly, but I am sure that we will all be very saddened by his absence there. I plan to revisit some of these book chapters over the next week, and if anyone has any other recommendations of his writing, it would be appreciated. My deepest condolences to his family and to those of you who were close to him. Best wishes,
~ Thom Clancy – Philadelphia, PA.
I am incredibly saddened to hear this. Bill was such an amazing mentor and beautiful spirit. He inspired me in new ways every time we spoke.
~ Joshua Dolman – New York, NY.
I knew Bill Meyer only through his posts on this list serve and the wonderful presentation he had offered on his reflections on long term therapy. I was hoping to meet him in Philadelphia, assuming he would be there. Without repeating everything that has already been written about the exceptionally fine person he was, I will simply say that I made an effort to read his posts as they were consistently filled with wisdom, grace, empathy, and authenticity. I cannot imagine the loss that is being endured by his family and anyone who loved or cared about him. The profession has lost one of its finest. With sadness,
~ Aleda Richter West – Phoenix, AZ.
Under One Tent (2013, Durham). The Art of Listening (2015, Durham). Mind & Milieu (2017, Baltimore). Intrigue, Insight, Inquiry (2019, Durham). A Time to Think, A Time to Act: Caring About the Known and the Unknown (2021, Philadelphia). These are the national AAPCSW conferences that inextricably link Bill and I, working on them together. He was imaginative and creative in the process. Bill made a case to include the word caring in the 2021 title, demonstrating the caring nature of our work. It is noteworthy that he exemplified the attribute of caring in his interactions with others as well as in his presentations and writings. Bill was passionate about film and introduced the idea of incorporating film at the national conferences, which became a powerful feature of the programs. Also, serving on the AAPCSW board together, our friendship only deepened over time, and I was the recipient of his support and wisdom. It is comforting to know that his contributions will live on in his writing, videos, and people he touched. Bill was vibrant and energetic to the very end. He hung on to life, and it's hard to let go of him… May his memory be a blessing.
~ Penny Rosen – New York, NY.
Bill Meyer was one of a kind; a special person and those fortunate enough to have known him will have him in our hearts, always. Bill was a mentor, supervisor, colleague, and friend and as others have already said, a true mensch. Bill could put his arms around you and give you a warm embrace even from a distance with his calm, steady voice. His gift was in his unparalleled empathy for all people. He influenced so many in our field through his incredible commitment to teaching and sharing his knowledge. Bill's influence will live on in those he taught for generations. He was committed to treating everyone and anyone with care, psychoanalytic understanding, and respect. What a human he was – filled with spirit and love for everyone, but particularly those who suffer. He will be deeply missed. Sending condolences to Gale and his entire family. I feel fortunate to have known him. May his memory be for a blessing. With Warmest Regards to all who grieve,
~ Susan Bokor Nadas – Cambridge, MA.
I want to add to the tribute to Bill with whom I had the great fortune of receiving consultation for many years. He was a wonderful mentor. He spoke like he wrote--thoughtful, lucid, kind, honest, succinct. He was a deep listener and would often close his eyes and lean back in his chair a moment before responding. It was as if he was distilling his thoughts to the most salient reflection to share. "Let the story unfold," were words that guided his way of teaching, supervising, and practicing and that he would offer as a reminder to be patient and curious and listen fully. He delighted in the professional and personal growth of those he worked with, occasionally clapping his hands together as if to cheer one forward. I know this was true, also, for his patients. In his work at the high-risk clinics, if a patient's cell had been turned off, he would go to their home to let them know he was thinking of them and encourage them to come back in to talk some more. He worked hard to ensure that the clinics offered a holding environment for patients, even if so briefly, and he was incredibly proud of his students and supervisees for giving patients the experience of being heard, understood, and valued in their most distressed moments. Facilitating connections and growing a community of analytic thinkers gave him so much joy. He is so deeply missed.
~ Mary H. Wise-Kriplani – Durham, NC.
The sad passing of Bill Meyer has hit our community with a great sense of loss. My own reactions are the memories of going to his home during past conferences. He shared an openness of welcome and warmth to everyone who entered. I was especially interested in the art that decorated the walls which gave a fuller presence of his creativity and being. Bill shared what attracted him to these works and the artist's background. We discussed art and the genres we both enjoyed. It is my impression that he used his creativity, and depth of understanding in his approach to how we, as psychoanalytically trained clinical social workers, use our innate abilities to enrich our professional work. He will be greatly missed.
~ Richard J Karpe – New York, NY.
In these sad times, thinking about Bill, my mind keeps turning to words Compassion, Commitment, Community, in their most profound meanings as some of the core characteristics of Bill as a very special human being! Getting to know him over several decades as an esteemed colleague and a valued friend, I learned about how deeply his brand of compassion was rooted in loving respect for the "other" whether in professional context or friendship. He had the rare gift of conveying the essence of "bearing witness" to the experience of others in sadness and in joy. He had an abiding sense of commitment to students, clients, and organizations in helping them achieve their goals. He exhibited an elegant quiet strength when it came to his fundamental professional and personal values. By every measure, he was a special gift to our profession, and we have lost an irreplaceable member of our psychoanalytic social work community. On a personal level, I am filled with gratitude for having had the privilege of knowing him as a friend. I shall miss him! In sadness,
~ Golnar A. Simpson – McLean, Virginia.
Many have spoken eloquently about Bill's personal qualities. I won't repeat what others have said, but wish to say something about his leadership in AAPCSW and elsewhere.
When Bill became AAPCSW President circa 2000, he helped steer AAPCSW in a new direction. Prior presidents had been formally trained as psychoanalysts; Bill had not completed formal psychoanalytic training. Also, he had a fulltime job with Duke's Dept of Psychiatry and a parttime private practice. And he was from North Carolina, not the more insular psychoanalytic communities of New York and Boston. While much of the earlier thrust of AAPCSW (known then as NMCOP) was focused on helping social workers formally trained as psychoanalysts gain respect within the analytic world, Bill was equally interested in supporting social workers who were applying psychoanalytic theory in diverse agency settings.
This became very real for him personally when (I'm not sure of the date) his position at Duke's Dept of Psychiatry was changed. While he maintained teaching and supervision responsibilities with Psychiatry, his clinical responsibilities were transferred to the High-Risk Obstetrics Clinic. This position involved a considerable amount of case management and a minimal amount of conventional 50-minute hour psychotherapy. Though he had reservation about the change, he accepted this change to the Obstetrics Clinic where he largely worked with low-income Medicaid clients who would never have sought psychoanalytic therapy. Bill embraced the challenge of helping clients in a social work role informed by psychoanalytic theory and practice. And he remained with this fulltime position – using his psychoanalytic understanding and skills – until shortly before his death. In this position, he practiced as a psychoanalytically-informed social worker – not as a psychoanalyst – and actively supervised and trained numerous social work students and medical residents. Of course, he simultaneously maintained a parttime private practice, but the majority of his professional time was spent working with high-risk mothers. Like Selma Fraiberg, he was excited about applying his understanding of psychoanalysis to helping relationships quite different than those in conventional psychotherapy practice.
Also, social work practice in such settings proscribed the use of analytic jargon; only commonplace English would be effective, both with clients and trainees from diverse professions. Bill's capacity to communicate with clarity was a gift that enabled him to be an effective teacher and supervisor.
In sum, Bill's leadership in NMCOP/AAPCSW helped open up the organization to psychoanalytic social workers (myself included) as well as psychoanalysts who had been initially trained as social workers.
As an advocate for psychoanalytic ideas and practice, Bill understood that "preaching to the choir" within the psychoanalytic community was never enough. He deeply understood the importance of organizations and institutions as holding environments for our ideas and practice methods. Thus, AAPCSW remained important to him until the end. He also greatly appreciated the emergence of PsiAN as a public voice for psychoanalytic therapies. And he maintained memberships in both the North Carolina Clinical Social Work Society and NASW. I mention NASW as Bill would sometimes look at its message boards and share postings he made on that venue where he communicated with social workers with minimal interest in psychoanalysis.
One of his favorite initiatives in the AAPCSW was essentially his role as NC area chair where he helped organize an annual talk with a social work presenter from another state. These meetings were advertised in the local social work community and often staged at UNC SSW in Chapel Hill. They would attract 50-80 participants each year and would expose social workers with little familiarity with psychoanalysis to analytic ideas. And of course, they would be preceded the night before by a dinner at his home for the speakers and an array of local professionals. (As anyone who attended the conferences in Durham understands, Bill appreciated that hospitality and collegiality was as important in staging a meeting as its intellectual content.)
One other "holding environment" for psychoanalytic ideas that meant a great deal to Bill was Smith College School of Social Work. He served as a supervisor for Smith students for several decades, attended many of the summer gatherings for supervisors, and was honored with Smith's Day-Garrett Award. He was deeply concerned about the direction the School had taken in the past decade as its core of psychoanalytically-informed faculty moved on and were replaced with academics who lacked any substantive analytic background.
I've not shared here my personal loss, but hope the above offers readers more understanding of Bill's important contributions to our profession and organization.
~ Joel Kanter – Silver Spring, MD.
Bill and I met in the mid-1990’s at a CSWE (Council on Social Work Education) conference. After a day of presentations, I passed the lobby bar, when happily seeing their TV on a Chicago Bulls/ Michael Jordan game. The only other person sitting there was Bill. We struck up a conversation, talking Chicago sports and being from Chicago. We got into further details of family and shared our current focus of looking for possible new hires for our universities. After the game, we got a quick bite to eat, talked shop, and said we’d keep in touch. And that we did. One day Bill called to ask for a letter of recommendation for promotion at Duke. Given that I was at an accredited public university, and not a free-standing institute, Bill and I laughed at the “politics” (and absurdity) of the whole situation. Throughout the years, his daughters and my sons became the main topics of conversations, as they became mature adults in their own lives. Our NYC grandchildren were born a few days apart. While Bill became quite a formidable giant in our field, as so many of you have written about, I went about my business trying to keep our Sacramento State MSW program as psychodynamically focused as possible. Bill took the time to give me “pointers, “along with support for my steadfast bull-headed determination as only a “girl from the South Side” could do. I’ll never forget his chuckle while saying that, which we both completely understood. We have all lost a gentle, compassionate, and humble soul.
~ Janice R. Gagerman, PhD – Sacramento, CA
I am deeply saddened to learn of Bill’s untimely passing. Bill was such a generous and kind soul. His contributions and influence will be felt in so many different ways: through his work as a teacher, scholar, supervisor, and master clinician, and his many leadership roles in our field. An incalculable loss to both clinical social work and psychoanalysis.
~ Jerry Brandell – Ann Arbor, MI
Learning that Bill had died was very painful. He has always been such a cheerful, friendly, energetic, and of course Analytically astute colleague. I will miss him.
~ Judith Rosenberger – New York, NY
Bill Meyer was among the very best teachers and therapists I've ever known. And the sweetest & most caring of men. His empathy was contagious.
~ Allen Frances – Coronado, CA
I'm so terribly sorry to hear this. He was a kind soul.
~ Michele Rivette – Ann Arbor, MI
It is with great sadness that we received the news of Bill's passing. We contacted Bill via email in 2018 when clinical social work was not recognized or validated in most Latin American countries, as a way to reach out for international support. We will always remember Bill´s quick response and total willingness to support Chilean clinical social work by providing a letter of support based on his own experiences as a clinical social worker in the United States. Bill was, without a doubt, one of the very first international social workers who provided us with support and encouraged Latin American social workers to continue organizing to validate clinical social work. We were honored to have received his letter, which was quickly shared as a message of hope within the Latin American clinical social work community. He later introduced us to Joel Kanter and Laura Groshong, two colleagues who have also participated in our seminars and programs. Although we never had the opportunity to meet Bill in person (only through video conferences), he inspired us and provided us with guidance given his own experiences as a young social worker. He will be forever in our hearts and in the hearts of Latin American clinical social workers.
~ E. Paola Grandón and Diego Reyes Barría – Directores, Chilean Institute of Clinical Social Work
Almost every step of my professional growth has been shaped by Bill's kindness, encouragement, and guidance. In reading the tributes, it is clear that he has touched so many of our lives and that I am not alone in missing him. With gratitude and love, I join the chorus in saying may his memory be a blessing.
~ Sophie Rudisill – Boone, NC
I was deeply saddened to hear of Bill's passing. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and colleagues. He was a stalwart presence, representing psychoanalysis and clinical social work, not only locally in North Carolina but also on a national level. For all of us who knew Bill, we knew him as a generous, kind soul, a man of integrity and a scholar who could synthesize complex psychoanalytic concepts and theory making it accessible to students as well as any audience who was fortunate to hear one of his presentations or read his numerous published articles. We knew him as the guy who was dedicated to disseminating "jargon-free" knowledge in his teaching and papers, not compromising on the deeper meanings and understandings of the concepts that enlighten the understanding of a person's strengths and suffering. Bill listened with patience, and genuine interest, hearing the surface communication as well as the underlying idea, anxiety, or concern, guiding his students, patients, and others toward a deeper understanding of the material and by extension themselves. Under his collaborative leadership, he helped to create three awesome conferences in Durham. His quiet steadiness, openness to the ideas of others, and the sharing of experiences facilitated a creative team of clinical social workers coming together to learn from one another. Joel Kanter writes about social work heroes. We may consider Bill as a contemporary social work hero. His legacy will endure. With Affection and Gratitude,
~ Karen Baker – Ann Arbor, MI
When I think of Bill, I think of a lighthouse: upright, steady, trustworthy.
When I think of Bill’s face, I imagine a child who suffered deeply. Somehow, that suffering was transformed into an exquisite sensitivity. He knows how a person should treat others.
When I think of Bill’s work with new mothers—the depressed ones, the psychotic ones, the ones who are likely to hurt their children – I believe he is the rarest of men. He understands that these women need care – care they have likely never received – in order to care for their babies. What work could be more important?
When I think of Bill, I think of a man who works hard. Before and after a long day at the hospital, and even on Saturdays, he sees patients in his home office. He told me once, how much he treasures these therapy hours.
When I think of Bill, I think of a generous host, who feeds his guests sumptuous meals and makes them laugh with clever quizzes about history and baseball.
When I think of Bill, I think of how much he loves Gale, their daughters, Rachel and Eileen, and his baby grandson, Ezra.
When I think of Bill, I think of a lighthouse: upright, steady, trustworthy. Sensitive, generous, and loving. Keeping our sight on Bill, we cannot lose our way.
~ Heather Craige, Raleigh, NC
Dear PsiAN – We share this sad news about Bill Meyer, and a lovely homage from the AAPCSW. Bill had an amazing career, as you can read, and was a fast and true friend of PsiAN. We were honored to have Bill kick off our last in-person conference in San Francisco. There wasn't a dry eye in the house after his presentation of caring for patients over 40 years. We honored his contributions and dedication to the field by naming him one of Advisors. And, we were honored to name our book club after him. He was truly dedicated to mentoring and teaching. With deep sadness at such a huge loss,
~ Linda Michaels, Janice Muhr, and Nancy Burke – Chicago, IL (PsiAN Co-chairs/Founders).
I am deeply saddened to hear of this news. I thought so highly of Bill and his presentation in San Francisco. That was one of the most moving case studies (if you want to call it that – it was much too poetic and poignant for such a technical term) that I've ever heard, and I deeply appreciated the brief exchanges I had with Bill over email. My profoundest condolences to all who knew and loved this man – I will miss him palpably, and I know the field will too.
~ Kirk Schneider – San Francisco, CA, and New York, NY (PsiAN).
So sad. In my correspondences and brief interactions with Bill, I found him to be such a kind, decent, considerate person, someone who was deeply committed to preserving and perpetuating quality therapy at all levels. He will be in my thoughts today…
~ Enrico Gnaulati – Pasadena, CA (PsiAN).