Ashley LePage, M.A. '12 M.A. in Counseling Psychology: Art Therapy
Ashley LePage graduated from the Chicago campus in 2012 with a Masters of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology: Art Therapy. She also has her LPC and will be applying for LCPC and ATR credentials. She currently works as a director of a dementia unit, at a skilled nursing facility in Chicago.
Q: Tell us more about your career.
Ashley: I selected positions that I felt I could really grow in and where my life of learning would continue. After graduation, I started my career as an Alzheimer’s Social Services Assistant at a skilled nursing facility in which I worked with families, developed my documentation skills, and assisted/supported those affected by dementia. My supervisors were interested in my skills as an art therapist, so I was privileged to bring my background to the environment. In December, 2013, I was promoted to my current position as director. This position has enabled me to become a louder voice for those affected by dementia and their families. Currently, I receive outside art therapy supervision so I can obtain my licensing credentials.
Q: What is your impact on the individuals or communities with whom you work?
Ashley: It is easy to overlook older adults, especially those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. I strive to provide person-centered care so that my patients feel in control of their circumstances, while also realizing I am a pillar of support. The individuals with whom I work receive long-term care and often become frustrated and when they realize or are reminded that they will be spending their later stages in life inside a facility rather than in their homes with their families. For me, it is crucial to create a home environment and provide patients with a safe place to express their feelings. As part of my job responsibilities, I train employees and volunteers. I feel privileged to share the knowledge I have gained, as well as the new knowledge I develop along the way. I also provide support and education to the patients’ families. Often, they are dealing with the guilt, the helplessness, and the stages of loss/grief. I am there to provide support.
Q: How did your Adler University experience affect where you are today?
Ashley: I was attracted to Adler because of its emphasis in social justice. After graduating, I recognize that my passion for social justice has been intensified. It was refreshing to attend classes and seminars at the University, where other students collaborated to provide feedback and inspire each other’s growth. The faculty made themselves available to help us with managing coursework, developing our professional identity, and supported us along the way.
Q: Was there a particular Adler University faculty member or experience as a student that has most influenced you, and why?
Ashley: The art therapy faculty are an amazing group of people. While I worked with some more than others, I found that everyone had a pure, endless passion. Faculty members Gail Roy, Katy Barrington, and Laura Jacobs always provided constructive feedback, showed excitement for the work I was doing in practicums, and provide encouragement. It is easy to say you want to help people for a living. Yet, it is hard to be out there doing it when you see how harsh circumstances can be on people
Q: What career accomplishment have you found most fulfilling, or considered your greatest professional accomplishment?
Ashley: I graduated less than two years ago. Yet, I am still amazed at how much can be done and/or changed in that amount of time. So far, my greatest accomplishment was my promotion to the Director of the Dementia Unit. Everyone has a voice no matter what role they are in. I am also proud that I have been able to continue working in art therapy. Yet, there is so much work to be done.
Q: What is the single most important piece of career advice you can give someone in your field?
Ashley: It is important to keep an open mind, and know that everyone must start their career somewhere. You never know where you will end up. As I look back, I am proud of myself for bringing art therapy to a specific population. I continue to set goals for myself, and see that I am continually growing. I look forward to reflecting back on my accomplishments.
Q: What advice can you give a student just joining Adler University?
Ashley: Be open to all opportunities. When considering settings and populations to work with during practicum or internship experiences, try not to limit yourself to something so specific. You will be surprised to find that you can be an extraordinary clinician in various settings. Keep your mind open, and always keep that passion alive because the passion is what keeps you getting up each day to serve others.