New counseling practice targets women, children

Jan Kerman offers a wealth of experience to help people overcome loss, depression, trauma, or the stress that comes from being the primary caretaker of older parents.

The licensed therapist recently opened a private practice in Silverdale to help women and children. Kerman also is a child and adolescent bereavement specialist for Hospice of Kitsap County conducting grief and loss groups in the county’s five school districts. She also works part time for Visiting Nurse Services of the Northwest and is on the board of directors for the Kitsap Suicide Prevention Task Force.

As a child, Kerman would read her older brother’s psychology books soaking up as much information as she could.

“I was always interested in why people were so different but seemed to also be needing the same things,” Kerman said as she sat on a futon in her softly lit office.

For as long as she could remember, human nature has been an “endlessly fascinating” subject. Life experiences have made psychology concepts all the more personal. When she was a young child, her best friend’s mother committed suicide. When she was 19, a friend voted “most likely to succeed” in high school committed suicide. About four years later a boyfriend did the same.

Kerman originally did her undergraduate work in theater and contemplated joining a comedy troupe, but her yearning to help people led her to the Jane Addams Graduate School for Social Work at the University of Illinois. She graduated first in her class in 1972.

For the next seven years she worked with children in Chicago schools before she opened her own practice. Kerman then switched gears and entered the marketing and public relations field. One of her accounts happened to be for Alaskan fisheries and the subject compelled her to take an Alaskan cruise. She took a side trip to Seattle and within seven hours of being there decided to move to the Northwest. In 1984 she moved to the Puget Sound region, settling on Vashon Island.

Kerman spent several years working for a large public relations firm, but the call to counsel others returned.

While visiting with a friend from Chicago, the friend confided in Kerman she had saved her life. One day Kerman had helped her friend create a big picture for her life. She encouraged her friend to apply for the police force. It was that day the friend had decided to end her life and would have done so had Kerman not helped her.

That experience and taking care of her elderly mother catapulted Kerman into her current calling.

“When you’re in pain, your view of the world is distorted. You’re only seeing one side of the world,” she said. She chose to work with children and women because that’s a group she can be the most effective with. She hopes to reach out to women who are daughters or daughters in-law caring for elderly parents.

She hopes to help adolescents accomplish their mission to find out who they are. She uses several techniques to help people work through their pain.

Kerman is on the cusp of moving to Belfair, where she can be closer to her work.

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