I am a psychologist and writer with a passion for personal and social evolution.
As a social commentator, I often tackle religious fundamentalism, gender roles, reproductive empowerment, and the intersection of these three.
My two books address these topics from very different angles: Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light offers rational and moral critique of biblical Christianity and suggests alternative ways of thinking that are compatible with what we know about ourselves and the world around us. Deas and Other Imaginings is a book of folktales that weave together magic and beauty, kindness, curiosity, resilience and self-discovery. They were originally written for my daughters.
For the last decade my writing largely has focused on short articles for news and opinion sites. These articles (now exceeding 450) have appeared at sites including the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Salon, AlterNet, Raw Story and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. All are available here at ValerieTarico.com.
By day, when I’m not writing, my primary focus is on improving birth timing and spacing, empowering young women and men to build resilience (social, emotional, educational, financial) before co-creating a child. I aspire to a world in which young people are able to form the families of their choosing when the time feels right with someone they love, a world in which more children are born with the odds stacked in their favor instead of against them. To that end, I serve on the board of Advocates for Youth and am a founding member of the Seattle-based advocacy hub, Resilient Generation. Right now, we can we are at the beginning of a technology revolution in contraception that has the potential to radically make surprise pregnancy and related abortion go to near zero. As someone who used to work with struggling families and children who had gotten off on the wrong foot, I find that tremendously exciting.
By way of background . . . After graduating from Wheaton College of Billy Graham fame, I got a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa and did postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington. (That was about a thousand years ago, or in 1987 to be exact.) Then I joined the staff of Seattle Children’s Hospital, where I directed the Children’s Behavior and Learning Clinic in Bellevue before moving to a private practice. Eventually it became clear that social and political trends were undermining what I was trying to accomplish as a mental health practitioner: to have there be a little less pain and a little more delight in the world. So, I closed my practice to take on some of those bigger issues.
Besides writing, that has lead to an interesting series of projects.
- In 2005, I co-founded the Progress Alliance of Washington, a collective of future-oriented donors investing in progressive change.
- In 2008, inspired by Seeds of Compassion, I created WisdomCommons.org, an interactive site that allows users to find and discuss information about virtues that emerge repeatedly across secular and religious wisdom traditions. It still gets a lot of traffic, but if you know anyone with Ruby skills, it desperately needs rebuilding!
- My YouTube Channel, AwayPoint offers resources for recovering Evangelicals and others who want to better understand the psychology of biblical Christian belief.
- In 2015, I co-founded Resilient Generation, a family planning advocacy hub based in Seattle, Washington. Our dream is to make intentional parenthood the new normal in Washington State, giving children the best starts in life with the cascade of benefits that brings to children, families, and whole communities.
After typing thousands of quotes into the Wisdom Commons, I can’t resist sharing four that sum up my philosophy of life:
Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.
– Gwendolyn Brooks
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?