My name is Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey. I am a licensed psychotherapist who is nationally credentialed for both addiction and mental health work. I have spent a great deal of time learning how multiple disorders and issues complicate delivery of services for people. Within our community agencies and treatment centers single focus programs fall short of meeting the holistic needs of the people they serve. More and more the correctional system is becoming the social service agency of last resort.
I began my journey as a high tech nurse supporting people with severe medical conditions and associated physical limitations within their homes. What developed was a unique perspective that provided insight into the benefits of normalizing life experience for people bound to technology in order to live. As an advocate for people with cognitive disabilities I was encouraged to focus on and build on strengths. I coordinated a state-wide project to facilitate communication while increasing understanding between legal professionals and litigants with cognitive and learning disorders. Each of these perspectives taught me the importance of finding value in others. Because I chose this perspective I became effective in empowering those that other “professionals” had given up on. My approach lies in stark contrast to those utilized by professionals whose focus is deficit based.
Courts and their affiliated organizations judge behaviors of litigants and set the tone for rehabilitation. Because these organizations often contract to provide services, they buy into the deficit model of treatment as well. For independent evaluators and service providers, contracts are important contributions of revenue. Because these professionals are beholden to the financial stream, they are only rewarded by echoing the sentiments of the overseeing body requesting treatment.
The place to begin the appropriate but long overdue paradigm shift is within our courts. They have the ultimate power to deprive civil liberties while defining the standards with which we all are forced to conduct ourselves. The huge disconnect between case law and judicial ideology with the down and dirty street reality of everyday life creates and maintains the gross inequities and prejudices of our time.
Time for change and, as I tell my clients, the change starts with me!