Jane’s Story

Picture of Jane Ryan of Ryan Couples TherapyWhat Inspires Me

For me, the most moving and awe-inspiring aspect of life is the human capacity to give and receive love; our capacity for resiliency and forgiveness; and our relentless pursuit of happiness, peace, and joy no matter the hardships or difficult circumstances.

Most of us, regardless of, or maybe because of, our experiences of pain and suffering, desire and seek out love and deep belonging. I am constantly amazed by stories of healing, transformation, and redemption.

I am inspired by the human desire for growth, for understanding and for reaching one’s fullest potential in living one’s best and most loving life.

My Story
I cannot categorize my childhood as all “good” or all “bad”. Few of us can. More often, life, family, and relationships are intricately woven experiences of love, hurt, triumph, suffering, growth, pain, accomplishment, failures, loss, happiness, sadness. While not many of us would actively seek out experiences of pain and suffering, they are our most valuable lessons, holding the seeds for our transformation.

My father was the child of Hungarian immigrants. As a child, he was shamed by teachers and told he was “stupid” for not speaking english and that he was inadequate in not being more “American”. He carried these messages of shame and inadequacy all of his life.

My mother suffered from chronic illnesses all of her life. As a child, she learned that only when sick did she receive love, security, and attention. Because of this, her illnesses became her identity as well as her strategy to receive the love she craved. Her belief that she was only loveable when sick, became her biggest stumbling block in her life. A talented writer, she never realized her full potential or used her unique gifts and creativity.

My parents brought their unhealthy expectations and deep insecurities into their marriage with each other. Without loving themselves first and without knowing how to create a healthy strong marriage, they hoped and expected they would receive from each other, the love they never received from their caregivers and never learned how to give to themselves. As a result of relying on each other to be “everything” they frequently felt disappointed, abandoned and hurt by the other. Both of them were very limited in their capacities to handle the intense emotions that arose between them. They addressed conflict in ways that were ineffective and hurtful. Our home was often filled with loud, angry outbursts, or cold, tense silences. The result of two adults who were so desperately seeking to be loved but unaware of how to obtain, create and nurture this.

As a way to survive the volatility, unpredictability, and instability of our life,  I learned how to read emotional cues and acquired an essential curiosity about the moods of others. I learned, as a matter of survival, how to listen deeply to things that were said and also to the things left unsaid. Today, my curiosity and awareness have allowed me to become a sensitve and attuned listener and communicator in my own relationships and in my therapy practice.

When I was 20 years old my mother died of breast cancer. I was devastated and felt deep loss and grief. This experience brought me into the dark abyss of pain. I found myself presented with two choices; stay in pain and close off to life, learning nothing, and perhaps even repeating my parents’ unhealthy approach to life OR use the pain to teach me how I can become stronger, healthier and more at peace with myself and the world around me. With the help of a talented therapist, my siblings and my aunt and uncle, I chose the transformative path and it has been the difference that has made the difference in my life.

In addition to my life experiences, my compassionate and caring therapeutic philosophy has been developed over 20 years of training, hands on experience as a therapist in different contexts and dedication to lifelong learning. I was a member of the faculty in the Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington for 5 years. During this time, I was inspired in teaching and mentoring therapists-in-training and honed my own therapy skills.

I call myself a couples therapist because I have specialized, ongoing, clinical training in couple counseling through The Couples Institute, founded by Dr. Ellyn Bader and Dr. Peter Pearson (www.couplesinstitute.com)

All of who I am is how I practice therapy. My personal and professional experiences, my training as a therapist, my own growth and healing have led me to keep my eye on creating a life of openheartedness, curiosity, engagement, kindness, and compassion. I strive to keep a daily practice of awareness and gratitude for this amazing journey of growth and wonder that life offers us. I practice gentle compassion yet accountability when I fall short of my own goals. I recognize that there is no arriving point, only an ongoing process of striving to be our best and to live our best life.   

Time away from work
When I am not practicing therapy, I enjoy devoting time to my own relationships with family and friends. I also love to pursue a variety of self-care practices (so that I am taking care of myself as I ask my clients to do). These include practicing yoga, visiting my adult children living in various parts of the country and the world, a daily meditation practice, writing, boating with my husband, cooking healthy and delicious meals and taking walks with my goofy, sweet, lazy basset hound, Winifred.