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Bianca Augustine joins W&M Counseling faculty

This fall, the School of Education welcomes new faculty members. Today, we introduce Bianca Augustine, who is joining our Counseling faculty.

Tell us a little about your background and what brought you to W&M.
I am originally from the small town of Leonville, Louisiana. I moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana, and attended McNeese State University for my B.S. in psychology and my M.A. in psychology - counseling concentration. While completing my undergraduate and master's degrees, I began working in the mental health field in a variety of settings. This included a residential facility for adolescent boys with a history of sexually maladaptive behaviors, a campus-based community clinic that offered low-cost counseling services for various presenting concerns, a campus-based community gambling treatment program, and intensive in-home mental health services.

While I knew that I wanted to enter the mental health arena since I was in middle school, this became more and more evident throughout my studies. As I worked with clients in these various settings, my passion for working with survivors of trauma to collaboratively foster their resilience flowered, leading to my specialization and certification in this area. Furthermore, the limited access to counseling services for individuals of color, specifically across the Black diaspora, was glaring and heartbreaking. This awakened my passion for social justice and the destigmatization of mental health counseling. Over time, the overlap in these two passions became evident, furthering my desire to obtain my Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision.

I received my Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Old Dominion University in August 2021. Throughout my doctoral journey, my passions for social justice, post-traumatic resilience, and racialized and intergenerational trauma deepened. I also became actively involved in a plethora of professional counseling organizations, including the Association for Contextual and Behavioral Sciences (ACBS), which is the international flagship organization for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and other theoretical orientations including DBT, and Compassion Focused Therapy. I also became active in the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD), and others. After graduating, I began adjuncting for Upper Iowa University and Old Dominion University in their master's programs. This eventually led me here, to William & Mary, where I'm excited to continue teaching, mentoring, advocating, and learning!

What’s your area of research, and what question are you most passionate about answering right now?
My research foci are best encapsulated in the realms of minority stress as a form of complex trauma, specifically within minoritized and oppressed racial communities and across the spectrum of affectional/sexual and gender-expansive identities. A second research area that I am passionate about pertains to the destigmatization of sex/sexuality, especially in the field of counseling, as this area of one's life is often closely connected to their mental and physical health and wellness.

I am also passionate about examining the intersections of sex/sexuality/sexual expression, gender identity/expression, and racial/ethnic identity, especially as it relates to self-image, resilience, self-compassion, and self-care. More specifically, questions that I am interested in exploring include: How can counselors and counselor educators best support and advocate for minoritized and oppressed communities as a means of fostering resilience?; What are best practices in preparing counselors-in-training to meet the unique needs of minoritized and oppressed communities? How can counselor educators better prepare counselors-in-training to meet the various needs of clients presenting with sex/sexuality-related concerns in a sex-positive and affirming manner?; and How can counselor-educators best foster counselors-in-trainings' ability to approach clients from an affirming, intersectionality-informed, and social-justice-oriented lens?.

What else are you hoping to get involved with on-campus or in the community?
As social justice, inclusion, and equity are at the center of my identity as a global citizen, counselor, educator, and advocate, I look forward to partnering with community stakeholders in the Hampton Roads area and across W&M to increase access to high-quality mental health services for underserved and oppressed communities. I also look forward to creating campus and community partnerships to destigmatize mental health and increase compassion for self and others, especially in marginalized and oppressed communities. Similarly, I look forward to cultivating partnerships with various stakeholders to increase awareness and education surrounding minority-stress-related trauma and ways to foster resilience and wellness.

Anything else you’d like to share?
While I am passionate about teaching and mentoring others, I am also passionate about increasing my own awareness and knowledge. I believe that in order to be our best version of ourselves, we must be willing to learn, especially from those holding less social capital and societal privilege than us. In doing so, we take the first step towards creating a more inclusive, just, and healthy world.