Name: Tammy Bowles
Graduation Year: 1982
Major: Art/ Art Education
Current Position: Owner/ Counselor at Cornerstone Counseling, P.C.
City and State: Maryville, Illinois
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a Registered-Board Certified Art Therapist. I completed my master’s degree at Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville. I worked for 15 years in a hospital setting working primarily with children and adolescences in both in-patient and out-patient settings. I was a practicum supervisor for graduate students at SIUE completing their art therapy program. This provided a wonderful opportunity to help students gain clinical experience in working in the field of mental health.
In 2001, I felt the Lord lead me to open Cornerstone Counseling in Maryville, Illinois. This opportunity was well received in a community that has a rich medical presence with hospitals, physicians, and specialists. At the time Cornerstone was founded, there were three counselors and today we are blessed with eight full-time clinicians.
In private practice, I have branched out to work with a wider variety of individuals with children and adolescences and their families being my primary emphasis. It’s been a privilege to work with individuals and their families and help them through the challenges they face. I work with the State Adoption Preservation team to help stabilize adoptions that are struggling. I work with family court cases to help children often caught in the middle of custody disputes. The opportunity to advocate for a child is always welcomed regardless of the circumstances.
Through the use of art therapy, an individual is often able to self-express and begin to identify their emotions and process what may have been intense confusion. The process of self expression can ease the stress and burden that someone is carrying while providing a healthy vehicle to do it. In my practice, I have worked with abuse victims as well as cancer victims. With both populations, the use of art facilitates the individual being able to open up and avoid internalizing emotions that have increased their distress. The opportunity to work with other healthcare providers in an effort to coordinate care has been a valuable experience to provide the optimal outcome for individuals seeking services.
What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
I must say that we were blessed with incredible staff who genuinely carried about what the Lord wanted to do in our lives. My advisor, Alta Wyckoff, was a retired missionary. She helped me get my schedule set up and then said that I needed to pick a minor. I was very undecided and unsure of what direction to go. So, she took my hand and prayed that God would direct my steps. She then sent me back to my dorm to work on putting the schedule together, which was done with a grid and filling in time slots. The only thing that would fit around my other classes was psychology. I remember going back to Ms. Wyckoff and telling her that psychology wasn’t in the traditional minor category for an art/art education major. She said she could get it approved. And, she did. I loved the psychology classes and it was a perfect fit.
When I went to graduate school, because of my major and minor combination, I was ahead of the second year students. In fact, I was the first graduate of SIUE’s Art Therapy program.
I am thankful that Alta Wyckoff grounded the message that God had a plan. And, it was not my job to “figure it out” but to trust the God that created me.
I have many wonderful memories of EU. One of my funniest memories was Spencer Spree when a group of us from B4S decided to “join” my roommate on her date. We packed her car with about 300 balloons and then waited in the parking lot to “watch” as they came out of the bowling alley to find the “surprise.” To see my roommate run in heels in an effort to catch us was priceless!
How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
I was blessed with great teachers and great friends who truly loved the Lord and lived it. Each day was another adventure in testimonies of God’s faithfulness. I quickly realized that my major/minor was only the vehicle to the true major – calling – of all believers. Our “major” calling is to PEOPLE; the identified major/minor are just the way He permits us to do it.
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
I think I learned many valuable lessons at EU. I learned that God is always with me. I can think of so many confirmations that I was doing what He wanted me to do. I know that I learned to seek God above all else. I learned to trust Him to direct my steps and to know that being in His will is the only place to be.
I am grateful for the many friendships that I was blessed with at EU. Those relationships have been lasting and friends that I can truly count on in my life. I am so grateful for God leading me to EU and giving my parents that peace they needed as I left for college.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
The God who created you has bought you at a supreme price and sent you with a divine call. You are not at EU by chance. This is an opportunity that He has given to you to permit you to become all that He wants you to be. He knows you better than you know yourself. So, trust Him to direct your steps and I know, in my life, that He will take you on the greatest journey you could ever hope for.
Everything that makes you uniquely you are the very gifts and talents that He has poured into your life. He knows what you are called to do and He will make it all come together. Trust Him. He’s a Good, Good Father!
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
I think it is so important to be teachable. A teachable spirit will help you to find favor with those in authority above you. When an individual is teachable, others want to pour into that individual. I have been blessed with some incredible clinicians who make up Cornerstone. We have a wonderful mix of individuals who work hard to meet people where they are. Each of them come from different backgrounds and bring different levels of expertise, but the common thread is that they all are teachable. They want to understand and to be stretched out of their comfort zone. Being a Christian in the workplace means that we must meet people where they are and allow them to teach us so we can build rapport and lead them to Him.