The AHA! Team
Jennifer Freed, PhD
Jennifer Freed, PhD Co-founder
Jennifer Freed is a psychotherapist, mediator, and author with over 30 years’ experience working with youth and deep roots in the Santa Barbara area. She began at age 19, running a peer counselor training program at Dos Pueblos High School; shortly thereafter, she began working for YouthWorks. She became Statewide Director of that program, which conducted research into reasons why young people were dropping out of school. Dr. Freed then worked in the field of job rehabilitation, where she helped people find job placements following illness or injury. She underwent training at the Rape Crisis Center, Domestic Violence Solutions, Pacific Pride Foundation, and the Community Counseling Center, and earned her Master’s in psychology from Antioch University by age 23. Dr. Freed then became Clinical Coordinator for the Human Relations Institute, now known as Pacifica Graduate Institute. There, she created the award-winning Media Project, a statewide program where teens created videos about crime prevention. Dr. Freed went into private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist and was hired as clinical director of Pacifica Graduate Institute. She taught many classes at Pacifica and created the Overseas Program, where students there could go overseas to study indigenous ways of knowing. She then chose to resign her positions at Pacifica to earn her PhD in Depth Psychology there, while sustaining her private practice and leading workshops on women’s issues and couples’ issues. In 1999, just after the Columbine massacre, Dr. Freed started AHA! with Rendy Freedman, MFT, who became co-Executive Director. First, AHA! was a summer program largely staffed by artists and social-emotional learning experts who volunteered to work with the youth; it was so well-received that it was featured on the front page of the Santa Barbara News-Press. AHA! was soon invited to work with students at La Cuesta Continuation High School, then to Carpinteria and Santa Barbara High Schools. The after-school program was then added to AHA!’s offerings. AHA!’s Peace Builders, AHA!’s newest program, was introduced in 2013. Dr. Freed’s books include The Ultimate Personality Guide, Lessons from Stanley the Cat, and a series of Be Your Best Self workbooks, which are used in AHA! programs. She also authored the three-volume AHA! Method Book. In the works are PeaceQ, a book about peace-building; a book on women’s sexual wisdom; and another book about celebrating and transforming negative thoughts (Bad Thought Gremlins). She has been writing poetry her whole adult life, and created two radio programs: Freed Up!, an Air America talk show that had thousands of listeners; and Signs of Change, created with psychologist and education expert Stacy Pulice and aired on an AM station based in Arizona. She has made many television appearances and written guest columns in her areas of expertise. Passionate about continued learning, Dr. Freed has undergone ongoing professional development and training: she has been trained and certified in hypnosis, EMDR, light therapy, mediation, and EQ with national organization Six Seconds.
Rendy "Dorenda" Freedman
Rendy "Dorenda" Freedman LMFT 35254
Rendy Freedman has been a psychotherapist and mediator for over 20 years, and an educator for over 35 years. She specializes in working with adolescents, couples, families, groups, and trauma issues through EMDR. She has worked extensively with women’s issues and leads groups for parents of teens. She is a licensed mediator and certified EMDR practitioner and has had significant training and experience in body related healing modalities, as well as in relational therapy systems including self psychology, family systems, the mutuality philosophy of the Stone Center at Wellesley College, and council practice from The Ojai Foundation. In between teaching high school English and entering her masters program in clinical psychology she spent five years in advertising and film production in Denver and Los Angeles. She received her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University in Santa Barbara and a bachelor of arts degree in secondary education from the University of Iowa. She has taught in both public and private schools and was one of the founders of The Waldorf School of Santa Barbara. She taught undergraduate and graduate classes at Antioch University for 10 years and has lectured frequently in schools, local agencies, and groups on the topic of social and emotional intelligence. She leads experiential workshops for parents of teens–especially mothers and daughters. She has led and participated in dozens of trainings on diversity celebration and creative arts applications of social and emotional intelligence. She is the proud mother of three adult children, has an adorable grandchild, and enjoys adventuring in the beautiful Santa Barbara mountains and ocean.