“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask yourself this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't then it is of no use to you.”
― Carlos Castaneda, quoting Don Juan Matus
Who Am I?
For my official sounding bio, skip to Official-Sounding Bio below. If you’re interested in more, read on.
Jan. Dworkin. Jan: After the short, stout and mean-spirited maternal great grandmother Jenny, known for a bullet hole in her ankle (running away from the Cossacks). A name my parents settled on after Zoe and Zelda were voted down for being old-worldish. Dworkin: Origin, Dworetsky. Ellis Island, circa 1905. Means guardian of the interior courtyard (rough translation from Polish).
Here’s a sampling of what people I like have said about me:
- Students: Radically transparent and vulnerable. Clear, strong and precise.
- Clients: Direct. I get down to business and challenge them (as “appropriate” of course).
- Partner: Loving and generous, even when I’m droopy, gloomy, and mad.
- Step kids: Artsy-fartsy. Smart and influential. A silly dumbass.
- Friends: Mr. Magoo. (Watch video below.) And they want me around when there’s conflict.
I know. I’m a therapist. I should’ve learned to brag directly by now.
What Do I Do?
I [fa·cil·i·tate verb \fə-ˈsi-lə-ˌtāt\]. I make things easier; help things run more smoothly and effectively. I bring things about, help cause things to happen.
I fa·cil·i·tate your personal and professional development. I help you find your authentic path and live in alignment with your truth, even if it’s crazy and out there and gets you into a little trouble. I support the part of you who dares to cross the street when the sign says not to, and I’m equally interested in learning about the part of you who waits for permission.
I fa·cil·i·tate couples, teams, and groups as well. I help you connect with the original vision and purpose for being together, learn to communicate and collaborate across your differences, and unleash the creativity and growth lurking beneath the surface of your conflict and struggle.
Your goals define how we work. I am a therapist, coach, teacher, trainer, team-builder, program designer, organizational consultant, conflict facilitator, and mentor. I bring all of myself to the job, regardless of my role or function. My work is based on the cultivation of awareness. This includes awareness of self and of others, the natural and unnatural worlds, and the visible and invisible dimensions.
Why Do I Do It?
I’m inspired by the radical idea that within any problem or disturbance - whether an illness, a relationship challenge, a failed endeavor, or a horrific event - there is immense potential for innovation, growth, and meaning.
I have needed this attitude, first to survive and then to thrive.
I was born in Brooklyn, NY. I walked early, but clung to the hem of my mother’s skirt when we were out and about. At school they figured out I was extremely near-sighted and I got the first of many pairs of thick glasses. Adults clicked their tongues and said I was adorable. In high school I got contacts, met my BFF, became a vegetarian, and spent as much time as I could in The City. I went to college and majored in art.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to a Masters in Fine Arts program. I ended up in Zurich, Switzerland, (thank you college boyfriend) on a path that would shape my beliefs and career.
I did not set out to study psychology. But once I was in Zurich, I wanted to meet the enigmatic Arny Mindell, an unconventional Jungian analyst that my college friends had studied with. From what they described, I thought this zany wisdom teacher might help me explore myself. I was disturbed by my exhibitionistic nature, my obsession with painting large, naked, photorealistic portraits - of myself.
During those Zurich days, I did a lot of jogging in packs. Groups of up to twenty students would run with Arny; picking his brain on topics from the dreambody to the city shadow to the world channel. The research was experiential and we were the guinea pigs and co-conspirators; developing methods, defining terms, forging what would become lifelong friendships and collaborations. The closer I got to Arny and the more I kept up with his pace, the more alive I felt.
For the entire Reagan Era, I had my head either in a book or up my own Unconscious. I returned to the States in 1990 with a fair amount of hubris. I didn’t know Michael Jackson was the Man in the Mirror, or that Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, but I had volumes of dream journals and a bunch of letters after my name.
Jan Dworkin, PhD, PWdipl
In 1990, I moved to Portland Oregon and co-founded the Process Work Institute (PWI), a not-for-profit education and research center. Since 1992, PWI has offered authorized Masters degrees in Oregon, as well as a range of public courses and community open forums addressing social justice issues. We have enrolled students from more than 22 countries in our Masters programs, and our graduates work in leadership and facilitation roles, as therapists, coaches, consultants and managers. I served as Dean of Students and then went on to serve as Academic Dean of the Masters in Process Work program from 2005 until 2012.
During the 90s and early 2000s, I established my private therapy and coaching practice while teaching and travelling extensively. During this period, I co-authored various Processwork training programs both in the U.S.A. and abroad.
In the past two decades, I have designed and delivered seminars, workshops and courses for graduate learners, mental health professionals, and the public on topics like conflict facilitation, communication skills, rank and power, sexuality, trauma, addiction, creativity, and dream work. I have also guest lectured at local universities including Portland State University, Marylhurst, and Lewis and Clark.
Most recently, my colleague Randee Levine and I began experimenting with using the arts to work with group conflict and transformation. In 2012 we founded 361ArtWorks, which has given me the opportunity to bring art, my original passion, back to the center of my work life. It has also inspired me to make more art.
Some professional highlights:
- 1999-2012: A yearly leadership development course with a group of Catholic missionaries from Africa, Asia, Europe and South America on issues such as racism, homophobia, conflict resolution and sexuality.
- 1996-2000: A cross-border conflict resolution project in Northern Ireland.
- Town hall meetings on hot topics. One example: shortly after the 2005 London tube station bombing, I facilitated a Town Hall meeting in Beeston, Leeds, England, hometown of the "London bombers," to address the growing tensions between Muslim, Christian and Jews.
- 2008: “Girl Pride,” a self-esteem and anti-bullying program for the Portland public schools.
- 2010 - present: Teambuilding, communication training, and diversity work with small companies and creative agencies in and around Portland (list available upon request).
- 2012 - present: Founding and launching of 361ArtWorks.
Who is Mattie?
For the last five years, my corgi Mattie has been coming to the office with me (as long as my clients like dogs).
Mostly she sleeps. If you’re really sad, she may rouse herself to bring you the tissue box or gently nuzzle your foot. But as sensitive as she is, she’s not all goodness and light. In order to help you (or teach you) to express your anger, she might throw up near your shoe.