Janis Medow, LICSW, C-ASWCM
I always knew I wanted to be a social worker. Growing up in the Midwest during the tumultuous 1960s, I saw social work as a way to help effectuate positive change in the world by being able to speak for those who are challenged to speak for themselves due to disabilities, serious illness, or other challenging life circumstances. My years in the field have been deeply fulfilling personally and professionally. I’ve enjoyed a long and varied career for over 35 years and worked with many families and individuals in various settings along the way. Here are some highlights of my journey:
In college I studied psychology and spent my summers working as a camp counselor with developmentally disabled children. Following graduate school, I worked for several community agencies and then entered private practice as a child and family therapist – working with adolescents, adults, and families faced with family crises, trauma, and loss. After fifteen rewarding years, I closed my private practice to transition into medical social work in 2001. The relationships formed during my private practice and the work I engaged in with my clients taught me invaluable lessons about the nature of human suffering, healing and growth, and resiliency. I carry those relationships with me in my heart and always will.
As a medical social worker, I provided discharge planning and support to hospitalized individuals and their families facing complex health care crises with critical and chronic illnesses. I worked closely with interdisciplinary teams of physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists, pharmacists, and chaplains to ensure safe discharges for our patients, and to make sure patients continued to receive the help they needed without encountering any barriers to care – including navigating Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance to determine options available for patients given their specific situations.
This work offered me a whole-systems initiation into professional care management. While I worked to empower patients in managing and adjusting to illness and related changes, I also witnessed the transitions and losses inherent in later adult development. I was drawn to learning more about aging in our culture, and other world cultures, and to working with patients and families facing end-of-life. I felt my skills as a psychotherapist combined with my experience as a medical social worker would serve this population well.
In 2007 I moved into a new role as a hospice social worker. Connecting with the hearts, lives, and vulnerability of those moving into their own letting go, and witnessing the grief of their loved ones, was sacred work. At the bedside, I listened to patients’ stories from the past – of love and sorrow, celebration, and forgiveness. I supported patients as they found their way to rest with the natural unfolding of their lives. My work supporting caregivers and family members taught me that loss is always with us, and if we allow for time to identify and process our own experience and emotions, we can identify our needs and plan for self-care, which is essential to surviving in the caregiver’s role.
Five years ago my own mid-life called for a change. In 2011, I moved to the enchanted beauty of the Kitsap Peninsula and a job at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton. In 2012 I became the social work supervisor for the inpatient units and the emergency department social workers at Harrison. Among my duties I participated in monthly meetings of the Kitsap County Long Term Care Alliance and engaged with community partners and other local leaders, administrators and staff from long term care facilities, and community agencies. This involvement provided the opportunity to collaborate with others working to enhance quality and continuity of care for aging adults and those living with life-limiting conditions including dementia, illness related disabilities and mental illness.
During the summer of 2015 I realized it was time for me to gather the culmination of my experience as a social worker to focus on serving a growing demographic by developing a care management and consulting practice working with aging adults and their families on the Kitsap peninsula! It’s been a long winding road to get here. In 2015, I discovered the Aging Life Care Association (formerly the Professional Association of Geriatric Care Managers) and joined immediately! I knew I had found my new professional home, and a new role as an Aging Life Care Professional™ – the perfect role to fit my years of experience!
I am inspired and honored along with Sue-Marie Casagrande to open our Poulsbo office – serving Kitsap County and the surrounding areas. As an established social worker within the health care and professional network in this area, I am eager to put my energy and expertise to work for you. I offer compassionate understanding along with recommendations, advanced care planning, and advocacy for the aging adult in a way that affirms each individual’s unique way of meeting life’s changes with as much wisdom and maturity as possible. I am also able to help adult children struggling with the increased responsibilities and the increasing dependence of aging parents or loved ones while respecting the elder’s need to maintain independence and control over decision making and life choices.
Even the closest and strongest families become worn out during this stressful time of life. There are also instances where families live at a distance or may be estranged or absent for other reasons. Many elders do not have family or support available. It doesn’t mean you have to go through this alone. I meet you where you’re at and together we move through whatever challenges you’re facing to find optimal solutions and resolutions. It is my privilege to join with you as your advocate, guide, consultant and personal support.
In my free time, I enjoy playing with my young grandson, walking on the beach, visiting friends in Seattle, and cooking vegetables I’ve grown in my garden. I find strength and nourishment through practicing meditation and yoga as well as from ongoing study with amazing teachers from many fields and traditions who generously share their wisdom and knowledge about being the change you want to see in the world. Holding balance is what I strive for!
- Masters of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle 1979
- Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, University of California at Santa Cruz, 1976
Post Graduate Training Programs:
- Family Systems Therapy, Montlake Institute, Seattle 1985
- Jungian Psychotherapist Training, Northwest Pacific Institute for Analytic Psychology 2011
Licensure and Credentials:
- WA State Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW #LW00006448)
- Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM by NASW)
- Advanced Professional Member, Aging Life Care Association(ALCA)
- Member, National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
- Member, Jungian Psychotherapist Association of Seattle (JPA)
- Member, WA State Hospice and Palliative Care Association