PEP Remembers a Friend: A Tribute to Nicholas Long

Dr. Nicholas Long: PEP’s Treasured Friend, Mentor, and Teacher

PEP lost a friend, colleague and inspiring teacher with the recent passing of Dr. Nicholas Long at age 92.  Nicholas was a pioneer in the development of psychoeducational methods in working with emotionally challenged children and youth. He was noted for the Conflict Cycle which illustrated the dynamics at work between young people in stress and the adults who attempt to help them.

He believed that the relationship between the adult and the child could be used for therapeutic gain, and that Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI) could enhance that opportunity. LSCI gives front line staff the skills needed to help children when they are at their most vulnerable and impressionable; during times of emotional crisis. Nicholas founded the LSCI Institute to train professionals in this technique.  Over the past 20 years thousands of teachers, therapists and social workers across the country and in Europe have been certified in LSCI.

In the 1990s as he was refining the teaching of LSCI, Nick often spent time in PEP’s Day Treatment Centers coaching staff and demonstrating interviewing techniques.  He had a way of gaining the trust of children and youth such that they opened up to him and shared some of their most painful issues.  PEP staff were privileged to watch a master at work. His influence will long be remembered in our field.

Colleagues Remember Nicholas Long’s Legacy

Frank Fecser, PhD, former Chief Executive Officer, Positive Education Program and co-founder, Life Space Crisis Institute: When I met Nick, I had 10 years of working experience and an advanced degree under my belt, and I was pretty confident in my knowledge and training. But when I heard Nick speak about this psychoeducational method I was spellbound. It was as though the curtain was pulled back on all that I did not know in working with troubled kids.

Nick was brilliant and charismatic and one of the great benefits and privileges of working with Nick was watching him interact with children. He had a way of instantly developing trust with kids even at the height of an emotional upset. He could bring calm to chaos, and after meeting him, kids often asked how it was that he “knew them.”

Habeebah Grimes, Chief Executive Officer, Positive Education Program: While I did not have the benefit of knowing Dr. Long well, I will forever remember his words from a keynote he delivered at an American Re-ED Association (AREA) conference early in my career. In his comments, Dr. Long spoke about the word “discipline” and its etymology, or origin. He encouraged us as teacher-counselors to always remember when engaging kids with the intent to discipline that root of the word discipline is “to teach,” dispelling the myth that discipline is about punishment. I held onto this idea as I worked with PEP kids throughout my career and continue to reference it as I parent my own children. Since that keynote, I’ve heard other speakers address the etymology of “discipline,” but I will always remember Dr. Long as the first person to bring this youth-centered idea to my awareness.

Dennis Koenig, retired Chief Clinical Officer, Positive Education Program: Nicholas Long was a consummate, yet under-sung American hero. He not only made me a better professional, but a better person. His presentation, “In Defense of Kindness,” should be required reading/listening by everyone in the fields of education and mental health…annually.

Claudia Lann Valore, retired Chief Program Officer, Positive Education Program: In sharing his wisdom, talent and encouragement with so many of us at PEP over the decades, Dr. Nicholas Long enabled us to help thousands of young people both directly and in training other professionals. His reach was and continues to be deeper than perhaps any of us even realize, as LSCI training continues through the lineage of trainers to present day.

Kenneth Siemen, Staff Development Director, Positive Education Program: There’s no doubt in my mind that Nick’s involvement with PEP set the course for what PEP would become. Before the science of the impact of trauma on kids was known, Nick was telling us that “the problems kids cause are not the causes of their problems” and we could best help them if we first listened to them. Nick set a new paradigm of care which emphasized listening to kids, especially in moments of crisis, to fully understand and help them overcome their self-defeating behavior patterns. Nick was trauma-informed before that terminology existed.

Thomas Valore, PhD, former Staff Development Director, Positive Education Program: Dr. Long was one of the most caring and brilliant men I’ve known. He had a deeply profound impact on my life as my teacher, colleague, and dear friend. He lived what he taught in a way that was always kind, authentic, and filled with wisdom. His legacy is that he continues to change the lives of children and families through all the professionals he taught and deeply touched.