A woman with blonde hair and a blue lanyard, wearing a striped black and white dress, stands in front of layers of rock.

Staff Spotlight: Taija LaFountain

Latest News

Taija LaFountain came to work in substance use services as a way to understand people with substance use disorder, and to understand the disease itself. Two years have passed since she took on her role of Substance Use Case Manager at United Counseling Service (UCS) and she is proud of the work she does.

“I got into this field because I wanted to know what gets people with substance use disorder to where they are, and trying to understand that it’s a disease, not just somebody wanting to use drugs,” says Taija.

Substance Use Services was not the first stop for Taija at UCS. She started five years ago working in the South Street Group Home for adults with long term mental illness. Then, she became a case manager in the Community Rehabilitation and Treatment division. After that, she coordinated intakes, a position now called Universal Access. A move to the Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Use Services division brought Taija to her current role working alongside a supportive team of clinicians, directors, and nurse practitioners. The job is intense, and each day is different, but her clients and coworkers make it all worth it.

“I was asked yesterday how I leave here with a smile, with the situations our clients face,” says Taija. “It’s because of my coworkers. I know I’m not alone. If I have a question and one of them doesn’t know the answer, we figure it out together. I have that rapport with them.”

Stories of recovery from her clients motivate Taija to keep doing what she does. Recently, a client who graduated from the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) sent a thoughtful letter to Taija and her co-facilitator, Keili. The client thanked them for the help they provided and praised them for a job well done. “It’s nice to hear that validation from the clients you helped, and how you helped them” says Taija. Hearing the success stories is what I like about my job.”

Taija’s routine changes daily depending on the needs of her team and the whole agency. Three days a week, she co-facilitates the IOP, which combines different therapy styles and a Wellness Recovery Action Plan to help clients maintain wellness and sobriety. Taija also covers shifts as needed for the Finding Access to Services and Treatment program a few times each week. Other aspects of her role include reaching out to clients engaging in substance use services, conducting assessments with them, and helping to support the Medication Assisted Treatment program. Along with working full time as Substance Use Case Manager, Taija is completing her bachelor’s degree with a focus on Addiction and has already achieved her Apprentice Addiction Profession (AAP) certification, as well as an associate degree in human services. She is a Certified Recovery Coach and a trained Wellness Recovery Action Plan facilitator. Taija looks forward to continuing her path of helping people in their challenging times, especially as substance use disorders are on the rise locally and across the country. She is currently in the process of creating four new groups for clients participating in substance use services at UCS, to help meet a growing need in the community.

“We work with a high risk population,” says Taija. “Every day is different, and you never know what you are going to see or hear.” She sees each day as a new opportunity to help others, and to spend with her family at home. She has a teenager, toddler and seven year old who keep her busy outside of work. “Right now, it’s football season, so there’s a lot of that,” says Taija. “Whatever the kids are doing, we’re doing.” In between seasonal sports and other activities, Taija and her husband take to the lake with their kayaks. She makes it a priority to get out of work on time so that she can be with her family as much as possible. Having a job that is supportive both in her life at and outside of work is important to Taija. “It’s a great place to work, I’ll say that. It helps me get through the day and leave with a smile.”

Related Press