“Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”
– david whyte

The Genesis of Heart at Work Associates

It was on her return from a sabbatical in France with her husband and daughter that Barbara decided to open her career counseling practice, Heart at Work. While the concept boldly came to her one winter’s day in 1988, it was not until the spring that the name became clear, while on her way to visit a friend in Minnesota. Upon reading an article on overwork titled “Heart at Work” in the airline’s magazine, she knew she had found the name of her new venture. Heart at Work captures what her clients seek: authenticity through work that aligns with their whole selves.

Individuals generally decide to work with Barbara or one of the Heart At Work Associates because a trusted person referred them or because they resonate with the firm’s philosophy and holistic and experienced approach to career counseling and life transitions.

Our Beliefs

1. A full life incorporates connection, balance and mindfulness. When you lose connection to self, others, nature or purpose, you diminish your work and life balance. “Paying attention” fosters an inner and outer focus to your life and can lead to a sense of clarity about options and decisions.

2. Work is often an arena in which you may explore larger issues in life. Noticing patterns that repeatedly present themselves at work and that no longer serve you is often key to resolving work-related dilemmas. When a work-related challenge seems more complex and difficult than it should, it may have historical themes to it. Understanding whether or not you are dealing with issues that are old and unresolved will help your rethink your response to the challenge, and move through it more effectively.

3. You hold within you an awareness of your authentic work in the world for any stage or time. This awareness becomes blurred when your resources are depleted or when you think only one outcome is possible. Time and attention devoted to self-care, reflection, and focused questions allow your inner knowing to take shape.

4. Midlife and the Second Half of Life represent life stages when you experience restlessness or a compelling desire for change and greater meaning. Midlife and Second Half of Life work transitions often integrate competencies and skills that you’ve developed over time and, when combined, result in a great sense of satisfaction. This can also be a time for you to re-discover interests or abilities that have been forgotten, discounted or neglected.

The Significance of the Labyrinth Logo

Barbara deliberately chose the labyrinth as the logo for Heart At Work because of its correlation with a life path or journey.

The labyrinth has been used as a way to clear the mind and provide insight for over 4,000 years. Unlike a maze, which is designed to confuse, a labyrinth provides a clear path to its center. The labyrinth combines the image of the circle and the spiral into a meandering, but purposeful path. It represents the journey to our own center and back again out into the world—a journey that we’re invited to take when we are considering important decisions about work and career.

Walking the labyrinth integrates the body with the mind and the mind with the spirit. At Heart At Work Associates, we realize that career and work decisions are sometimes matters of the heart, in spite of what the mind might say. Our attempt is to help clients find the right balance of heart and mind for the important work-related choices they make and to meet them at whatever point they are in their lives.

Just as walking the labyrinth is a physical activity as well as an emotional experience; career and work have physical and emotional components too.

For example, a client may be referred to Heart At Work Associates by his/her physician because he/she is experiencing physical symptoms due to work stress. In addition, clients describe their relationship to career or work with strong physical associations: “My job is killing me” or “I can’t shoulder my work any longer”.  They may reveal that they are losing sleep over work or not eating well.

The client is an active participant in their life journey. At Heart At Work Associates, we do not do the work for clients (e.g. writing their resumés for them or placing them in jobs); rather we help them clarify what they want and teach them the most effective ways to arrive at their goal. We invite them to take the necessary steps to move forward on their path, while being available to assist if they feel stuck or blocked.

The process of arriving at a goal involves active steps and reflection, like walking the labyrinth. There are no “rules” as to how you should proceed; the only thing required is a desire to move forward on the path.


Pilgrim by David Whyte

Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer

Quarterlife Crisis by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner

Callings by Greg Levoy

The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife by Marc Freedman

You Already Know What To Do by Sharon Franquemont

Do What You Are by Paul and Barbara Tieger

The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, Adventure in the 25 Years After 50 by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

Heart At Work Associates offers career counseling and outplacement services for your life stage in Portland, Maine and globally.

career counseling • outplacement & career transition services • relocation services • retention programs