Jon Berenson is a clinical psychologist in solo private practice in Providence, Rhode
Island. He was the former Chief of Mental Health Services at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
in Plainville, Massachusetts for 17 years and has been a senior leader of the Opening the
Heart workshop for 36 years until retiring in 2016. He loves eggs, ice, weeding, sitting
by an outdoor fire and writing, playing hide and seek with grandchildren, digging clams
with his toes in the Westport River and playing backgammon with his 93 year old friend.
He lives with his inspiring wife of 46 years in Providence.
About My Work
I think that most of us love stories. We read them nightly to our Little Ones; we go to movies; we read books; we watch
a favorite serial drama; we listen to the adventure, challenge and emotion that our loved ones go through in the arc of
their lives. In some ways, I believe, it is this draw to stories that “fit” for me as a profession, a career. As a psychologist
and therapist, I listen to people's stories.
But I have come to know that it's not just any story that holds, inspires or moves me. The stories that do that for me
are the ones that have to do with themes like family, love, heart, weakness, courage, redemption. In other words, stories
about that crazy, spinning, opening and closing, fragile, tender and beautiful thing we call Real Life.
Every story in my two books (Sitting in the Circle and
Completing the Circle) are true and were the result of my
work with patients in my office for 45 years, or with participants at an Opening the Heart workshop which I have led for 36
years. I have changed the names, ages and circumstances of all the people involved in these stories in an attempt to
protect their confidentiality. The Heart workshop originally started in 1976 at a place called Spring Hill in Ashby,
Massachusetts by Dr. Robert Gass. When Spring Hill closed its' doors in 1998, the workshop continued, primarily
at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and at Kripalu Institute for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
The stories run the gamut of the real life continuum from tragedy and heartbreak to resilience and humor. But each
story was chosen because it re-lit a flame inside me that yearns to become a more loving being on this tiny, crowded,