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‘More meaning to my life': Adler University student shares education, career journey

Stories | 08.09.22

Having spent five years working in hospitality for Marriott Hotels, Samantha Jones was growing frustrated with the industry.

“I was feeling really lost and not quite sure what to do with my life,” she said, describing the work as feeling inauthentic. “I knew I needed to be able to help people, but in a way that brought more meaning to my life.”

When COVID-19 began to negatively impact her operations role as an event assistant, it only bolstered her decision that it was time to make a change.

A transferable skillset

Jones didn’t have any background in psychology or other mental health fields beyond her own personal experience of seeing a therapist since she was a teenager. However, she felt drawn to explore this career path.

Because of her extensive customer service training, which allowed her to be level-headed when working with people through stressful situations, Jones said she had a feeling her role in hospitality could help pave the way for becoming a therapist.

That’s when she found and quickly settled on the Master’s in Couple and Family Therapy program at Adler University.

“I was attracted to the social justice aspects, and how it was integrated into their programming,” she said. “What really sold me on Adler was meeting with the program director, Dr. Kristina Brown. I immediately knew this is where I’m supposed to be. There was an instant comfortability.”

As Jones moved through her program, she learned about various theories, ethics, and core competencies — but she said what surprised her most was the realization she was also learning more about herself in the process. And this bonus layer of personal development could make all the difference to her success as a therapist.

“On a personal level, the most rewarding part of this experience was my own development of being socially conscious,” said Jones. “I continue to really find my voice as someone who can be an advocate for others or make space for others who might not have a voice. Learning how to become a therapist has been really special.”

At first, Jones felt very vulnerable during her training, especially when it came to receiving feedback on her performance. But as her confidence grew, her teachers noticed the transformation, too.

“When I wrapped up my final evaluation, I got really high marks for the progress that I had shown, which is really exciting,” she said. “Using this as an opportunity to grow, versus sitting in that feeling of not being good enough, gave me a better sense of self of who I am.”

Photo of Samantha Jones during graduation

Samantha Jones, right, poses for a photo with fellow Adler University graduates.

 ‘Enjoying finally being a therapist’

During the course of her program, Jones conducted supplemental site work to gain more experience with relational cases at Hold The Vision Therapy, a Chicago-based private practice. That’s where she met Rachel Miller, a doctoral student in the CFT program at Adler, who runs the practice. The two hit it off instantly.

“We’ve gotten along very well, she’s a fantastic supervisor, and I feel so fortunate to be able to be hired on by her,” said Jones. Their working relationship will only continue to expand as Jones approaches commencement. She will be working full-time via the company’s telehealth platform. She also looks forward to building a practice that includes working with teens, individuals, and relationships.

As for what else the long-term future holds for Jones, it may include more schooling and an eventual shift into teaching.

“I’m contemplating getting my Ph.D.,” she said. “I really enjoyed my time at Adler and would love to go back there. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying finally being a therapist. I’m looking forward to developing my own therapeutic skills and theory, learning more facets and different trainings to further help my clients, and I’m excited that I get to work with a practice owner who I really admire. Our values and ideals, especially as it relates to social justice consciousness, are well matched.”

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