Chowan Presents Psychology Graduate Speaker Series | CJ Wright
On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, Chowan University’s Psychology Department continued its alumni lecture series with graduate, Charles Wright Jr., who obtained his B.S. in Psychology in 2014. Charles, better known as CJ, now works as an addiction counselor and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Although he now happily works in the human services field specializing in substance recovery, CJ’s path to this fulfilling work was a long and arduous one. After jumping from one job to another to stay on top of his finances, CJ was reawoken to his passion while working as a substitute teacher for the Charles County public school system at the F. B. Gwynn Educational Center in La Plata, Maryland. At his job, CJ worked with children who struggled with emotional behavioral disorders. This employment led to another opportunity working at the Safe Journey House, a short term emotional behavioral facility. Here, CJ worked with clients who had mental health issues and required immediate, short term relief to start a path of long term service care. This experience at the Safe Journey House was especially important to CJ as it showed him that anyone can struggle with mental illness. In his lecture, CJ tenderly noted that many of these clients were successful, smart individuals, and based on mere acquaintance, you might never be able to tell that these people had serious mental health hurdles to overcome.
CJ has now been gainfully employed for over a year working with clients fresh out of the prison system or those seeking a reduced sentence due to substance abuse problems. His personal experience of requiring strong prescription drugs after he tore his ACL playing football for Chowan helps CJ understand the emotional side of each client’s case. As long as his clients are compliant and transparent, CJ is willing to move mountains to get them the help they require. At this particular facility, clients live within the established confines for a minimum of six months. CJ acknowledged that COVID-19 has been particularly difficult for those incarcerated as they are only permitted to leave their room for one hour each day. This creates more trauma, mental health issues, and makes recovering from substance abuse all the more difficult. But CJ and his colleagues tackle COVID-19’s challenges head on. He enjoys working in the prison system helping clients defeat their demons and reintegrate back into society. CJ’s concluding advice to his Zoom audience was to make sure they obtain a useful master’s degree, are never afraid to ask questions, and to make sure their job offers health and life insurance benefits.