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.
“I always knew there was something else out there, a greater purpose in my life. I was not certain that this was my calling in life, but now I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be!”
What inspired you to become a family therapist?
I have faced some personal challenges in my life that led me to this decision. I found FTTI on the Aurora website at a time when I wasn’t really searching for a new career, just something different. I say I “stumbled” upon it — and I now know there was a reason for that.
What is the number one challenge facing families today?
At first thought, I would say economic challenges, but I really think it’s greater than that. I have had clients in great economic distress that have risen above those challenges and have become stronger, because of what they have faced. I believe that whatever challenges families face, each member has a voice. Allowing or encouraging members to use their voice and listen to each other with respect brings cohesion and solutions. When families are aware of the concerns of all, it tends to be easier to find solutions or a different way to manage difficulties.
Who in your own family has inspired you the most through your life, and how?
Both of my parents have influenced and inspired me to become who I am today.
My father was born in 1929 in Chicago just before the stock market crash that was the beginning of the Great Depression. Although my dad told stories of the hard economic times, the stories he shared of his alcoholic father were those that shaped who he was and became. When he met and married my mother, his focus became his family and everything they did was for the family.
My mother was born and raised in Germany. When she married my father, she left her family of origin and moved to America. My mother left not only her family, but her culture, her language and all she knew. Economically, times where hard but they survived because they persevered. That is what I learned most from my parents. My dad would always say, “Things always work out.” Families need support in getting to a place where they can believe this and gain the tools to preserve through the difficulties.
What’s your most cherished family tradition?
A family of origin tradition occurs on Christmas Eve at my moms house. As a family, we gather for Christmas dinner. After dinner, when the presents are around the lit Christmas tree, all other lights are turned off and Silent Night is sung in both German and English. It is a very special time.
With my husband and daughters we have started a tradition of celebrating what we call “Family Day.” Our daughters were adopted in 2002 and we arrived home in October as a family. We usually do something special and watch videos of them before they were with us. We also look through a special box of items that remind us of their birth country, the blessing of adoption, and the gift their birth mother gave to all of us!
What advice or encouragement would you have for someone considering FTTI or a career in family therapy?
Don’t give up! More than once, that thought crossed my mind. I am thankful to FTTI staff, my colleagues, my family and God for encouraging me to keep going down this path.
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.