UpLift’s “Get to Know” series features our providers—so other providers can get to know them, learn from each other, and connect.
This month’s featured provider is Dashiya Wallace, LCSW.
What are you passionate about when it comes to therapy?
I'm most passionate about 2 things: One is creating and curating a space specifically for Black and brown folks to feel seen, heard, valued in a way that they have yet to experience by other mental health professionals. I’m curating a space for them to show up as themselves in an authentic way—to not have to mask out of fear of being judged.
Next, I'm passionate about being able to just sit in pain or discomfort with another human being. There's so much beauty in being able to just be present with someone during a time of hardship. I'm passionate about reminding humans that we need each other. Try to take away titles or power. Just look at me as another human being, not someone who wants to fix it or who has the answers.
The most scary thing for us as people is to do life alone. If I can remind you that I'm here, I'm present, that's important to me.
What type of clients or areas do you specialize in working with?
I have a preference for working with folks of color, specifically individuals who identify as Black or a female of color. That allows me to show up in the therapy room as my most authentic self.
For many people, specifically Black women, we’re taught by our family and society that we have to be strong or independent. We’re hyper focused on not letting people know that we're not okay.
I want to strip that away to show: No, you're actually human. Humans need each other. It doesn't make you less than if you say “I'm not okay.”
How do you believe change happens for a client?
I recently heard this quote that went along the lines of, “Before you can shake hands with bravery, you first have to shake hands with fear.”
Change happens when a person is willing to push past the fear of the unknown. It happens when they arrive on their own to the understanding of, “Something is not going well in my life or on this course that I'm on.” Change doesn't have to mean something bad, something scary. It's just a part of life and being willing to adapt and trust in yourself enough to know that you'll be okay eventually with that change.
Are there any modalities or approaches you feel attached to?
Anyone who's entering into therapy, no matter what for, can pull from CBT and benefit from challenging their thoughts, their way of navigating life, or what they have internalized over many years. We as humans can always benefit from reframing.
I'm finding at this point in my career, I am more attracted to relational therapy: reflecting on the relationships that we have in our life and what it means for us. So much depends on how we navigate those relationships and how we show up in those relationships, whether it be romantic, platonic, or familial.
What inspired you to get into therapy?
I come from a background that was very traumatic and tumultuous. I am what’s considered a parentified child. My father was violent and abusive. His partners would come to me, with their problems about life or their relationship with this person. That was inappropriate and challenging but it taught me at a young age that I have this presence about myself that invites people to be vulnerable in a way that maybe they can't with other people.
Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a psychologist. I thought that was the only way to help someone. It wasn't until I graduated with a degree in psychology that I realized there's so many other ways to be an advocate and to support people.
I worked at a crisis hotline for a few years then transitioned into working on domestic violence and intimate partner violence—a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It was at that agency where I was like, “I think I want to go back to grad school for social work.”
That's when I shifted my view of what I can do with therapy. I’m a person who doesn't want to be boxed into something. Being a licensed clinical social worker allows me to work with different populations and do all these things but still be underneath the umbrella of therapy.
What is your favorite local resource to share with clients?
I’m from Philadelphia and just relocated to Alexandria, Virginia last year, so I’m still learning about resources in Virginia. As LCSWs, our licensure requires us to be direct and hands-on in the community.
In Philadelphia, I tend to recommend:
- The city has several intake centers for people experiencing homelessness or for those in need of rental assistance. These centers fall under the umbrella of Office of Housing Services (OHS), with a schedule of daytime and evening centers a person can go to for assistance.
- UESF is a program that can assist people with utility assistance if they fall behind on payments.
- Many programs provide free meals. Some are gender or age-specific.
- The Philadelphia Reentry Coalition is also a resource I use a lot for folks who are returning home after incarceration. They provide information and referrals to services.
What is the best therapy-related article or resource you’ve seen recently?
In Pennsylvania we just came up on our licensure renewal. I took a course on the Top 5 Ethical and Legal Hazards in Private Practice Settings from the Cognitive Behavior Institute. With that, I did a lot of policy updates on my consent forms and made sure that my language protected my clients and protected myself.
What is your favorite way to practice self-care that you’d recommend to other therapists?
I'm not really big on working out but I'm a huge walker. Having a 2-year-old pitbull who needs to get out and be entertained helps me stay true to that passion of just walking. In between sessions, I get out of my apartment and get fresh air.
Getting massages is something that I try to stay pretty regular with. Being a therapist means taking in and holding so much in my physical body that I need to exert that energy in a way. I carry a lot of tension in my neck and my back. It's not just because I'm sitting but also because of the information that I'm carrying and taking on. I try to be kind to my physical body in that way.
I try to burn sage or Palo Santo every morning, which is basically my own practice of clearing out whatever energy or whatever traumatic event that I heard or that took place the day before so I'm not carrying that energy into the next day. It makes me more intentional about how I want to show for myself and for my clients.
I am also a huge binge watcher of TV shows. It gives my brain a break. I'm also not talking. By the end of the day, I am talked out and don't want to hear anybody else talk. But I'm able to watch TV and get a good laugh in or just get lost in whatever world I'm consuming at that time.
What’s the last book you read or what book did you read recently that you would recommend to anyone?
I'm reading 2 books right now.
With everything that's going on, especially in the states of Florida and Texas with certain bans on literature—specifically African American literature—The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones sheds light on what I believe is the truth of this country that is being erased, shut out, locked away, watered down, and changed. Reading that particular book allows me to stay true to myself during a time when so much of your history is constantly being ripped away from you. The book forces us to ask how certain laws came to be and how this country became what it is.
The other book is Shallow Waters by Anita Kopacz.
It’s a beautiful mesh of West African tradition and belief, different deities, and their view of spiritual protection and connection. To summarize, a deity travels from 1619—to go back to that—to the present day. It covers how our ancestors have been with us, guided us, and protected us from the start of slavery until now, and how they're still guiding our navigation in this world. But it does so in a way that honors West African tradition and belief.
Why did you choose to use UpLift?
When I moved to Virginia, I was on the fence about whether I wanted to get licensed here or not, because I didn't know how long my time here would be. I had started my own practice and getting licensed in Virginia was kind of a backup plan. I didn’t really want to have to go back to work for someone else. So I did some different research on different platforms, and came across UpLift via Indeed. It was kind of cool that this particular platform required you to only be licensed in DC, Maryland, or Virginia at that time. UpLift was the driving force of like, okay, maybe I should go ahead and get licensed in Virginia.