Felicia F. Thomas
Getting to know our faculty
I came to Cal Poly in 1982, and I am a Professor of Clinical Psychology who holds a license to practice psychology in the state of California.
In 1985, I co founded and was the Clinical Director of the Cal Poly Child and Family Services Friendmobile program, a counseling center on wheels that provided counseling, parenting, and tutoring to families and children in our local communities. The “Friend Mobile” operated for twenty-five years before external and campus funding sources were exhausted. Fortunately, the program in a modified form is being reconstituted under the semester system and built into our Masters in Psychology graduate program. Hopefully, the new model will give the program sustainability over time if its built into the curriculum. It also fosters the “learning by doing” model.
Currently I am working on a project titled “Contemporary Social Issues” that is surveying Cal Poly students’ thoughts and feelings around three topic areas: (a) Prejudice and discrimination (off and on campus), (b) mentoring (by whom and under what conditions) and © online instruction (preferences and perception of effectiveness).
What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic field?
Confucius said “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I love, love, love my job. I love helping students, I love helping others figure out what they want and how to best succeed. What I like about psychology is that it teaches us that it is rare there is only one answer to anything is life.
Two myths: (1) All psychology majors want to be is a therapist -- There are multiple specialties or subfields within psychology (clinical, social, personality, experimental, cognitive/neuroscience, developmental, industrial/organizational, cultural, school/educational, counseling, forensic, etc; and (2) you can’t get a job with a psychology major -- Psychology teaches you many skills that can be applied to lots of jobs.
Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I was one of six African American children who first integrated an all white school in rural South Carolina during the 60’s. As a direct result of my experiences, I became a licensed psychologist who wanted to help people deal with emotional and psychological challenges. Also, as a first generation college student, I wanted to help students navigate a foreign system as many others had helped me. Consequently, most of my projects deal with diversity issues and people’s perceptions of other people who are similar to and different from themselves.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Travel outside their “comfort areas.”” I’m a travel “buff” who has traveled to six of the seven continents in the world. It’s a great experience to see how other people live and think. It increases your chances of appreciating diverse ways of thinking, feeling, and doing.
What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t gotten around to it?
Group, or choreographed synchronized dancing.
Second Language: I envy people who can speak more than one language fluently. So, I’ve been wanting to become proficient in Spanish for years, and I have many programs I’ve purchased to learn, including Rosetta Stone; and they’re still sitting in my closet at home!