It all started for me in 8th Grade English when we learned about foreshadowing (when we know this about a character’s past it makes sense later when they act a certain way).  The concept of our past impacting our future choices lite up my brain and I remember thinking “Now this is interesting…”

So, psychology became my focus with the goal of private practice. Only a handful of states had licensing back in 1975 and California was one of them. As graduation from the University of Iowa approached, I mailed out 253 letters of introduction and inquiry along the coast of California (I thought I might as well have an ocean view!). One letter arrived at CHOMP and was forwarded to Monterey County Outpatient Mental Health. An interview was set for Halloween day, which was my second airplane trip and my first view of the ocean. I had found paradise. My interest and experience in group work landed me the position.

I returned to Iowa, arranged to graduate early, packed up my car, drove the southern route, and was sitting in my office before Christmas. Licensing happened as quickly as the process permitted but private practice came much slower. I loved the teamship of the outpatient clinic; it felt like our own practice. But after years of mounting county politics, I was ready to go out on my own in 1983.

Ten years later I started BreakFree for Women as a counterpart to Breakthrough for Men. I met with Fred Jealous whose mind, heart and lap was full with the wonderful men’s program he had developed. I was enthusiastic about the similarity of Breakthrough to the group work I had been doing and the idea of my creating a women’s program was born.

Teaching was my earliest career choice; I would line up my dolls for instruction. So, designing an educational workshop on empowerment was a delightful challenge. The BreakFree 1 format of sixteen three-hour meetings and two full days gives me an abundance of opportunity for layering and depth!

It is stimulating to have a program that continues to evolve. Having BreakFree 2 and BreakFree 3 and the Always in Relationship workshops provide opportunities to continue the connection and healing. Creating our annual BreakFree Weekend is an energizing process as well. It is an engaging challenge to decide on a topic and then develop that theme, add the expressive arts, and the handouts, so it all comes together to create a stimulating, fun, and connecting weekend.

Participants’ backgrounds range from no therapy experience to therapists…from 16 to 82 years old, so the variety is juicy. After 29 years of BreakFree workshops I still like to say that “I sign up for BreakFree every time I offer it”, healing is a lifetime adventure. The balance of BreakFree and my private practice keep my work a joy.

I enjoy my rustic cedar home and a casual lifestyle. Gardening and creative pursuits give me the quiet time and connection to nature that grounds me for the emotional focus of our work. I was widowed in 2019 when my husband of 39 years died from Alzheimer’s.  I am amazed and grateful to be involved in a new loving relationship.  My family continues to fill my heart, my time, and my arms. I have a blended family of four adult children: two live on the peninsula, and the third two hours away, and the fourth in Manhattan Beach. I was a late-in-life child so I never had loving, involved grandparents. Being a Nana with six grandchildren is a poignant experience and constantly reinforces my belief in inherent nature, healing, and the wonder of life.

“Life shrinks or expands in direct proportion to one’s courage.”

–Anais Nin

Janet looking up at us.

Janet looking to the side while seated in her office