Get to know Taquelia Washington, LCSW - Core Faculty, Counseling Psychology Program

See Taquelia's professional biography here.

Shayna Quilty (SQ): Congratulations on becoming a Core Faculty Member! What drew you to the Wright Institute, and what makes you stay?
Taquelia Washington (TW):
Thank you! I believe in synchronicity. Most of my career has worked this way. I was supervising a Wright Institute student who was doing their practicum at an organization where I have a contract position. The student shared with me that the school was looking to hire more instructors. Upon researching and learning more, I was drawn to interview and teach Multicultural Awareness and Sensitivity (MAS) as an adjunct instructor.

Two things I really like about the Wright Institute are: 1) the collaborative teaching model, which extends to adjunct instructors, and allows us to work with a community of instructors so we can share, learn, and grow. 2) The emphasis on social justice. I was brought on to teach MAS, and now also teach Community Mental Health (CMH) and the MFT Professional Development Seminar (PDS). All of these courses are in line with my skill set and passions.

SQ: What are your professional areas of interest?
I am driven to help increase the quality of services for the most disenfranchised in our society, either directly or indirectly through my consultation and teaching capacities. My work involves creating more culturally inclusive systems of care in helping professions by providing consultation and support to organizations to enhance services primarily to people of color. I suggest programmatic changes, lead workshops, and offer nuanced supervision/mentoring for people doing the work on the ground. I am drawn to communities that are at risk in terms of the -isms they experience as well as by their interactions with dysfunctional systems in our society. I work at the macro-, mezzo-, and micro- levels.

SQ: What is your motivation for teaching in the mental health field?
One of my biggest motivations for teaching in the mental health field are my past clients. I learned through their stories of the ways in which they were being retraumatized by well-intentioned, well-meaning people who did not have the cultural awareness to work effectively in their communities. Their stories and experiences guide the core of my work. Teaching MAS, CMH, and PDS are a few of the ways I attempt to give back to these communities by playing a small part in educating the therapists that my former clients may one day encounter.

SQ: How did you decide to pursue a social work licensure track? Why is it the best fit for you?
Social work is very systemic in its way of thinking and teaching. It aligns with how I think, and it gave me options for various career paths. It encompassed everything I might want to do, including direct practice clinical work and systems work. Furthermore, the primary focus of social work is working with disenfranchised populations. The downside for me is that my degree program included less clinical training than MFT programs, so I had to seek that out later.

SQ: Can you tell me about a challenge you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are professionally?
I am a first-generation college graduate in my immediate family and second-generation in my extended family. I had to navigate a lot of the complexities of college by myself while working multiple jobs throughout my undergraduate studies. I had to learn things through the hard knock life! I’ve had to balance my drive and passion with a lack of money, and I’ve had to create my own support communities. I’ve definitely been fortunate to have many blessings along the way, and believe in the importance of paying it forward to those facing similar challenges.

SQ: I know that working at the Wright Institute is only one of many hats that you wear. How else do you spend your time?
I have my own business; I do contract work with community-based organizations, including trainings and facilitations around diversity. I also teach at another university nearby. Outside of work, I spend most of my time with my wife and son. They bring me a lot of joy! I also like to spend time in nature, eat yummy food, read, run, and travel.

SQ: I’m sure the students would love to hear some advice from you. Anything you’d like me to pass along to them?
Trust that even when things feel the most challenging, that you will make it through. Find ways, however small or big, to take care of yourself throughout this process. Reach out for support as needed and know that we are all here to support you and see you be successful.

SQ: Great advice! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.

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