Madelyn Esposito, M.A. '12 M.A. in Couple & Family Therapy

Meet Madelyn Esposito, M.A. '12 and read 
about her work as a school-based clinician.

Meet Madelyn Esposito, M.A. '12 and read
about her work as a school-based clinician.

Madelyn Esposito, LPC, AMFT, earned her Master of Arts in Couple and Family Therapy from Adler University in 2012. Currently, Madelyn is a School-Based Clinician for SGA Youth & Family Services, a non-profit organization serving underserved families in the Chicago area.

Q: Tell us about your work.
Madelyn: I currently work for SGA Youth & Family Services within Chicago public high schools. I provide individual, family, and group therapy services to address issues, such as trauma, self-harm, gang involvement, or grief, among youth. SGA Youth & Family Services serves marginalized communities and families throughout Chicago with a cradle-to-career approach by providing various services, including early childhood development and teen parenting education, counseling and mentorship programs, and postsecondary and vocational support.

Q: What is your impact on the individuals or communities with whom you work?
Madelyn:
Working for a non-profit organization allows me the opportunity to provide free therapy services to youth and their families living in underserved communities with little access to affordable mental health services. A unique aspect of working within the public school system is that I have been able to provide professional development trainings to educators and staff. With the intention of creating systemic changes to communities, these trainings are tailored to increase educators’ knowledge and awareness regarding the effect of trauma on students and the importance of being trauma-informed in the classroom.

Q: How did your Adler University experience affect where you are today?
Madelyn:
Adler University challenged me to not only acknowledge privilege, discrimination, and social justice issues, but to actively work to create systemic change. As a result, I strive to serve underserved families that have limited access to mental health care and advocate for their access to resources such as healthcare, food pantries, utility and housing assistance, and legal aid. One of my most significant experiences at Adler University was participating in the Social Exclusion Simulation, which particularly highlighted social justice issues and the need to be socially responsible as a mental health clinician.

Q: Was there a particular Adler faculty member or experience as a student that has most influenced you, and why?
Madelyn:
I highly respect and admire the Couple and Family Therapy faculty and appreciate their dedication to mentoring competent and skilled clinicians. Dr. Cadmona Hall challenged me to reflect on my values and beliefs, particularly how they can affect the therapeutic relationship and my perspective as a couple and family therapist. I strongly believe that Dr. Hall’s guidance and encouragement has greatly contributed to my clinical identity.

Q: What career accomplishment have you found most fulfilling, or considered your greatest professional accomplishment?
Madelyn:
Although I only graduated two years ago, I am proud of the systemic changes I have made within the Chicago public high schools I serve. I find the provision of professional development trainings to educators in the public school system to be a rewarding experience. My hope is that teachers will start to utilize a trauma-informed approach in their classrooms, leading the process of a larger systemic change to the community. To date, I consider my greatest accomplishment to be changing a school’s policy that allows families to receive school-based family therapy, particularly those affected by traumatic grief.

Q: What is the single most important piece of career advice you can give someone in your field?
Madelyn:
Learn from the population you serve. I believe that when you take the position of “expert,” you tend to stop listening to the needs of those you serve. There is no cookie-cutter approach that works for every client, and the ability to be flexible and understand your limits can positively influence a client’s prognosis.

Q: What advice can you give a student just joining Adler?
Madelyn:
Self-reflection and self-awareness are integral to becoming a competent clinician, and Adler University faculty will continuously encourage you to examine your limitations, strengths, values, and beliefs. Embrace the challenging discussions and be open to examining how your identity positively and negatively affects the therapeutic relationship.