How It All Began-Dr. Jan

 The Awareness Center

“I took back my power

and I took back my energy

and I put them toward the things

I was passionate about”

-Dr. Jan 

Founder of the Recovery Movement for Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoAs) and so many others who identify with our journey


Dr. Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed.D.


March 27, 1938 – June 9, 1994

Your wisdom, a gift to all generations. Your love, a treasure to your children.


      Dr. Janet Woititz A Brief Biography


Dr. Janet Geringer Woititz obtained her Bachelors Degree at Antioch College, a Masters Degree from Montclair State College and her Doctorate in Education from Rutgers University. Dr. Woititz’s doctoral dissertation was on The Self Esteem of Children of Alcoholics.

As a Professor at Montclair State and In her private counseling practice she began to notice characteristics from individuals who were raised in Alcoholic homes. Dr. Woititz was among the first practitioners in the world that addressed and identified the impact on family members from exposure to chronic alcoholism and drug dependence. Subsequent research has shown that the same dynamics affecting the families of alcoholics also applies to dysfunctional family systems in general and transcends culture and age.

Dr. Woititz received international acclaim for her New York Times best seller, Adult Children of Alcoholics, that made her known as Dr. Jan, the mother of the A. C. O.A movement. Dr. Woititz was founder and president of the former Institute for Counseling and Training in West Caldwell, New Jersey. Dr. Jan lectured and taught all over the world and at The Rutgers Summer School of Alcohol Studies.

David Woititz, MA, Jan’s eldest son is quoted as saying; “Mom was always thinking about how simple actions could easily brighten the world for those around her. For instance, following the old adage, ‘Find a penny and pick it up and all day long you have good luck.’  If she found a pennies when fishing through one of her ridiculously massive pocket books she would toss them on the ground for others to discover. Just in case, it was true. A better example was once back in the day, when we were stranded in an airport during a snow storm she called her travel agent to adjust our travel plans on a pay phone to avoid the torture of waiting on a huge serpentine line. Although the call was being placed on her credit card when finished she handed the receiver to another stranded traveler. Nice pay day for the travel agent and who knows how many hands that phone found that day and how many strangers got properly redirected. I am confident that she never gave a second thought to the phone bill. For me, I just liked watching how she could take a dark room and brighten it by her smile.”


One thought on “How It All Began-Dr. Jan

  1. She saved my life.
    I was a student at MSC, and never forgot the powerful lessons she guided as I took baby steps to closely look at who I was, which was necessary to pass her course and get my degree in education
    A few years later, after I had the degree, I suffered a major emotional collapse. Baby steps obviously weren’t enough. Thankfully, a close friend informed me that Dr. Jan had a private practice. I called her, she answered personally and reinsureingly told me she remembered me from class, eight years ago! Obviously my emotional disability wasn’t as hidden from her in the 70’s in her class as I thought and she willingly took me on as a client.
    In person, one on one, talk therapy ensued and the emotional protective walls that prevented me from giving and more importantly receiving love were slowly and permanent demolished. Not to mention self awareness, self confidence, honesty, forgiveness, hope and feelings of joy.
    I owe her my life.
    As a side note, I was a smoker. She was a reformed smoker. At an ACOA meeting somewhere in Bergen County she approached me after the meeting to bum a cig. Part of me wanted to play parent and tell her she shouldn’t smoke. The child in me wanted to please the parent, Dr. Jan, and give her the cigarette. I wasn’t totally healed. I gave her the cigarette.
    I bless her everyday. And everyone who has followed in her gigantic footsteps.


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