Bio - Jan Reha
Janice E. Reha, MA, LMHC, is a career counselor with more than 30 years experience in private practice. Download Resume Here
A Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Washington, Jan is recognized as an innovative leader in career change and career development. In addition to individual, private consulting, Jan has worked closely with human resource departments of corporations in the areas of career transition and outplacement.
Jan also provides in-depth reports and expert witness testimony in divorce cases requiring an assessment of a spouses career opportunities and income potential. She co-developed the Displaced Homemaker Program at Bellevue Community College.
Her unique approach to career planning focuses on the individual and explores motivations, values, beliefs and aspirations which enable her clients to make the decisions that are the most fulfilling to their personal lives.
“I frequently tell my clients and students to keep opening up doors—you never know what may be on the other side. Below is my personal story, which illustrates how the doors I opened in my life led to a satisfying and successful career.” - Jan Reha
Biography: Jan’s personal story
When I enrolled in college I had no idea what I wanted to be when “I grew up.” It was in the era when there were only a few choices for women—nurse, teacher, secretary or housewife. I finally chose to become a teacher, which I greatly enjoyed.
After graduation I moved from Minnesota to California to teach junior high English. Two years later I married, quit teaching and followed my spouse when his job took us to Europe. What an awakening. For the next three and a half years, I discovered how it felt to be on the outside of a culture, to have very little command of the language and to feel somewhat alone in a foreign country with two small children.
This experience gave me insight into how challenging it is for immigrants to the United States coping with a new country. It also gave be a better understanding of how to help clients communicate and work more effectively in the American workplace, so they don’t feel isolated and in a “foreign land” themselves.
Upon returning to the states, my life reached a turning point. I became involved with the YWCA and a class for self-consciousness raising for women, became active in the National Organization of Women and eventually became co-president of the Bellevue Chapter. At the same time, I realized my marriage was in trouble and that I needed to begin laying the foundation for a life as a single mother.
I enrolled in a Career Exploration course at Bellevue Community College, which led me to enroll in a Masters in Education program with an emphasis on counseling at Seattle University. Two years later, at age 35, I obtained my degree and was in the midst of a divorce. At the time, my children were six and eight years old.
I had been working part-time as a peer counselor part-time at Bellevue Community College’s Women Center, and developed a displaced homemaker’s program, which was the third one in the nation to be developed. As I was in the midst of my own divorce I was assisting others with their divorces. These were painful but stimulating times for me. They helped me understand the fears and opportunities that divorce presents. They also helped me define the focus for my future practice as a career counselor.
Eventually the funds for the women’s programs were drained and I was only able to teach part-time at BCC, which did not pay the bills. After much researching the job market and tough decision making, I borrowed $10,000 from a friend to start a counseling practice. Through encouragement from friends and colleagues, I began working as an expert witness to the courts and an advocate for divorcing women who need financial assistance and vocational direction.
This was a new concept to the divorce courts. It was an uphill climb to become accepted by divorce attorneys and the court. At the time I knew little about self-marketing so the process of building my practice was slow. My income was unpredictable. I was not always able to support my children emotionally or in their activities because providing for them financially had to come first.
While building my divorce counseling practice, I continued to enhance my marketing skills and find new outlets for my career planning talents. I taught career classes at Metro. I provided outplacement for AT&T, US West and Sisters of Providence. In the late 80’s I started doing outplacement for Microsoft and then I developed career classes for BOEING in the early 90’s. After those years of building my confidence and learning the marketing skills I needed, I decided to place all my energy in developing my private career counseling practice. Recently, I have become involved with Collaborative Law, a new developing trend in Family Law.
Today, my practice has expanded beyond counseling divorce clients. I work with a variety of clients in career transition, helping them identify their next career and educational goals. I enjoy working with younger people, providing hope for those who are plagued with the feeling that may be the only ones who are missing out of the last economic boom. I also enjoy working with baby boomers who want to re-define what “retirement” means in the 21st Century.
After 30 years I still find my work energizing and challenging. Like many others in my age group, I plan to continue serving clients well beyond the traditional retirement years.
My children are adults who are both very involved in their personal and professional pursuits. Now that I have time to devote to a personal life, I enjoy dancing, skiing, friends, reading and a very active social life. I believe that I am living proof that many of us have the skills, abilities and courage to create our own careers, with a little help and planning.