Joann Peterson

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Joann Peterson, M.S.W., Dip.C., Ph.D.

Joann S. Peterson, M.S.W., A.C.S.W., Dip.C., Ph.D., (July 26, 1934 - January 9, 2007) was an American social worker, counselor, author and lecturer. Peterson did some of the pioneering work in the field of child sex abuse in San Diego, CA (Long, 1982). Later, she was a key figure in the development of mental health services in Bellingham, WA. She left private clinical practice to assume the position of Director of Education at the Haven Institute in 1990, and held this position until her death in early 2007. Peterson developed and led a wide variety of groups for The Haven. She facilitated personal and professional development seminars throughout North America and Southeast Asia (Allen 2005, p. xvii). Her clinical work focused on families in crisis. (The Bellingham Herald, 2007). She served as a consultant for agencies and trained professionals in psychology and social work for over 40 years. (Merlin, 2002). She authored numerous articles, wrote research grants in the field of child abuse prevention and authored two two books and a DVD about responsible anger expression. Based on the Anger, Boundaries and Safety workshop she developed and led over 15 years, her writing on anger emphasizes the benefits to mental and physical health, and to relationships, of the non-violent, boundaried expression of anger (Long, 1982), (Izzard, 2003),(Campbell 2005).

Joann Peterson, M.S.W., Dip.C., Ph.D.

Born premature and abandoned at birth, she struggled with physical developmental challenges as a child; she experienced chronic, unrelenting pain every day of her adult life. Rather than succumb to a passive life of victimhood, she worked with her challenges, and excelled academically. Her own experiences of suffering gave her particular insight and empathy for others with difficulties, and she was known as a caring, empathetic counselor and teacher. But she was also disciplined and rigorous, and expected her students to embrace personal responsibility without complaint, as she had done (Best, 2006). Abused in her adoptive family, she had a special affection and ability with youngsters who were undergoing physical, emotional or sexual abuse. She wrote about her experiences, and contributed much to the field in this domain (Lemon, 1997), (Nicholls, 2000), (McNally, 2002), (Allen, 2005), (Best, 2006).

"Violence abounds, both at the micro and macro level. In relationships, and in communities and countries around the world, people are living out violence and naming it anger. This is evident in the blatant, abhorrent behaviors that are intended to be retaliative, to do harm, and to control.In this violence people are turned into labels, roles and objects, and contact with the person is lost. An enemy is created. Paranoia grows, and our humanity suffers an erosion at the level of the soul. Ultimately we distance from our evolutionary energy of human connection. And in this disconnection we experience an acute, pervasive loneliness and isolation." |Joann Peterson (Peterson, 2006)


  • Long, Wendy. "Child Sexual Abuse: More Help Now Available", Vancouver, BC: The Vancouver Sun, March, 1982.
  • Lemon, Judith "Thoughts of Depression", Gabriola Island, BC: Shen #20, Fall 1997.
  • Nicholls, Linda. "SSFIIIHS Conference", Gabriola Island, BC: Shen#26 - Fall 2000.
  • McNally, Ernie. "In Her Own Words, Gabriola Island, BC: Shen Issue #29 Spring 2002.
  • Merlin, Peggie: Getting Sex Off the Chores List and Re-claiming the Mystery",Gabriola Island,BC:Shen,Issue#30, Fall 2002.
  • Izzard, Denese. "The Haven's First Symposium Alive and Well", Gabriola, BC: The Sounder, Nov. 13, 2003, p. 8.
  • Campbell, Leslie. "Joann Peterson - The Resilient Life", Victoria, BC: Focus Magazine, Vol. 18, No.1,October 2005, pp. 46–49.
  • Allen, Wayne (2005). This Endless Moment, Waterloo, ON: Phoenix Centre Press ISBN 0-9684446-2-8
  • Best, Andrew (2006). There Is A Place (DVD), Calgary, Alberta: The Haven Learning Library, Archetype Productions.
  • Staff Writer. "Obituary: Joann S. Peterson", Bellingham, WA: The Bellingham Herald, January 2007.


  • Peterson, Joann. "Impact of Hospital Admitting Procedures upon Young Children", Salem, OR: Willamette University,USA National Social Science Research Council Report, 1956.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Use of Volunteers in High Risk Nurseries", Proceedings of Perinatal Social Work, 1974.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Parent Aide Programs: The Reparenting Process", Proceedings of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1981.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Child Sex Abuse", San Diego, CA: Child Protection Center, Children’s Hospital,Outpatient Model, 1981.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Management of the Abusive Family", San Diego, CA: Child Protection Center, Children’s Hospital,Parent Aide Program, 1981.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Child Development",San Diego,CA:Child Protection Center,Children’s Hospital,Training Cassettes,1981.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Intervention Programs", San Diego, CA: Child Protection Center, Children’s Hospital,Training Cassettes, 1981.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Sexual Abuse Identification", San Diego, CA: Child Protection Center, Children’s Hospital,Training Cassettes, 1981.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Identification of High Risk Families", San Diego, CA: Child Protection Center, Children’s Hospital and Sharp Hospital,Premature Nursery Project, 1982.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Childhood: The Sexual Continuum and Sexual Abuse", Social Work Practice, 1983, pp. 141–146.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Sexual Abuse: Issues of Body and Boundary", Cortes Island, BC: Heartwood, Issue #9, Fall 1984.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Intervention With Abusive Families", San Diego, CA: Child Protection Center, Children’s Hospital,Parent Aide Program, 1990.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Choosing Anger", Gabriola Island, BC: Shen, Issue #5, Spring 1990.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Life Choices by Courageous Kids", Gabriola Island, BC: Shen, Issue #7, Spring 1991.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Separation and Loss", Gabriola Island, BC: Shen, Issue #9, Spring 1992.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Mirroring - The Discovery of the Self", Gabriola Island, BC: Shen, Issue #17, Spring 1996.
  • Peterson, Joann. "Disengaging Depression", Gabriola Island, BC: Shen, Issue #23, Spring 1999.
  • Peterson, Joann (2001). Anger, Boundaries & Safety, Gabriola Island, BC: PD Publishing. ISBN ISBN 0-9696755-5-0
  • Peterson, Joann (2006). A Book about Anger, Boundaries & Safety, Gabriola Island, BC: The Haven Institute Press.ISBN 0-9696755-8-5
  • Peterson, Joann. "Taking Haven Home", Gabriola Island, BC: Shen, Issue #33, Spring 2004.
  • Peterson, Joann (2007). The Anger Toolbox – A Blueprint for Responsible Anger, Boundaries & Safety (DVD), Calgary, AB: The Haven Learning Library, Barcode 6-89076-55565-4
  • Peterson, Joann (2007). Anger, Boundaries & Safety:Chinese Translation, Taipei, Taiwan: Living Psychology Publishers (in production)

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