Since 1972, the Family Therapy Training Institute of Aurora Family Service has been preparing mental health professionals to guide families through turbulent times.
Meet our new family therapists as they approach their August 17 graduation date.
While obtaining her Masters degree at Marquette University, Ashley Bowers was inspired to become a family therapist after completing her practicum and internship placements in the Aurora Family Service Mental Health Clinic.
Why did you choose family therapy?
I have always recognized the influence the quality of our relationships has on our overall wellbeing and mental health. On a personal level, I also find working with couples and families to be challenging and rewarding.
I chose the Family Therapy Training Institute at Aurora Family Service because I was familiar with the program, the educators and the supervisors, and I already knew it would be the best place for me to advance my career and succeed in my goal of obtaining licensure as a marriage and family therapist.
In your opinion, what is the number one challenge families are facing today?
For the families I work with, the number one challenge is economic. All of the families I have worked with are experiencing a multitude of stress from normal life transitions and for many that was in addition to trauma. When these families are also facing financial burden, it compounds their stress, limits their resources and suppresses their innate resiliencies. People who are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs understand how it is extremely difficult to heal from trauma, practice self-care, and navigate normal life stressors when you are constantly concerned with how you will pay for basic necessities.
We are also living in a society that promotes and facilitates living beyond one’s means which generates additional pressure on families who are doing their best to survive, let alone thrive. Once caught in the debilitating cycle of debt and interest it is very difficult for families to keep their heads above water and relationships often suffer under the weight of such financial burden.
Who in your own family has inspired you the most throughout your life?
Overall, I think the most inspiring person in my life has been my stepmother. She has faced a multitude of challenges in her life with grace and humor. She is a kind and selfless person who acts honorably in difficult situations, regardless of whether she will receive acknowledgment from others for doing so. Her character inspires me to be the best person I can be personally and professionally. I could not have had a better role model growing up and for that I am eternally grateful.
What is your own most cherished family tradition?
My most cherished family tradition is Father Time, a holiday tradition my father invented when I was three years old and we were spending our first New Years Eve together after my parent’s divorce. Since we did not spend Christmas day with my father he invented Father Time as special tradition which involved Father Time coming on New Year’s Eve and leaving presents by the biggest clock in the house. It was especially funny that I did not realize Father Time was a holiday tradition only my family celebrated until I was almost out of grade school.
Where will you go from here?
After graduation, I plan to obtain my license and hope to further my career working with children and families. It has always also been a long-term goal to eventually become a supervisor myself as I enjoy leadership and teaching opportunities in addition to direct service.
What advice do you have for someone considering a career in family therapy?
My best advice is to take care of yourself. Find experienced family therapists to be your mentors and utilize their knowledge and experience; seize every opportunity you can to become more involved in the profession; and diversify your experiences so that you can develop a strong skill set and a better idea of what you would want your niche in this field to be.
Aurora Family Service helps families overcome challenges, changes and crisis to live well again. We achieve stability and strength for families through counseling, parenting, elder care, financial, career, health and community services. For more information, visit our website, follow us onFacebook, or call 1-414-342-4560.