Meet TSG Art Instructor, Elissa McNicholas

By: Natalie F.

We are excited to introduce to you TSG Art Therapist, Elissa McNicholas. Elissa is from Philadelphia who sought to pursue her Master’s in Counseling and Art Therapy in Chicago. She has always had a passion for art and connect to The Simple Good through it. Read Elissa’s interview below to find out more about her creativity.

Where are you from and what brought you to Chicago? I am originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia and moved to Chicago in 2012 to pursue a Master’s degree in Counseling and Art Therapy at Adler University.

What is your professional background and what do you currently do for a living? I graduated from Adler University in 2014 and have been working as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Art Therapist (ATR) in a variety of settings, such as after school counseling and therapy with children and currently on an inpatient adult psychiatric unit here in Chicago.

How do you connect to the arts? I have always identified as a creative person who used the arts as a form of self expression. I participated in many forms of art growing up, such as music, dance and visual arts and began to hone my skills during undergrad when I chose a studio art minor. Through my connection to the arts, I feel I am able to remain curious and explorative, as well as express myself when words aren’t enough.

What has it meant to you to be a member of The Simple Good? I’ve loved being a part of The Simple Good! Using art and discussion with the students has me feeling very connected to the community and Chicago. To me, it gives people a chance to try something new and think about things in a way that maybe they haven’t yet, to spark new interests and ideas in younger people, and I think that’s amazing.

What impact have you seen being made by The Simple Good? One of the biggest impacts I’ve noticed is how the program encourages students to notice their surroundings, and express what stands out as important to them. During a showcase at the end of a session, it’s so exciting to see how proud the students are of where they live and hear how they plan to help their community thrive. Seeing a young person’s confidence grow when it comes to using their voice is very powerful.

What does ‘the simple good’ mean to you? To me, ‘the simple good’ means to slow down, to be kind and patient, and to make time for things that make me feel balanced, like reflection and quality time with people I love!

You can find Elissa on Instagram- @elissa_layla

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