Everyone Needs Inspiration
Over more than a decade specializing forensic psychotherapy, three quotes have inspired me - so much so that I have integrated them into both my website and email signature. When taken together, these quotes embody the needed systemic and enduring change required in the way society deals with offending behaviors.
Neuroscience and the findings of neuroplasticity give the physiological foundation that can allow my patients to change their behaviors and provide them with hope of a better future. The Justice System provides my patients with the motivation to change. As a General Practioner with a special interest in forensic psychotherapy, I am able to provide my patients with the ability and skills they need.
The first inspirational quote comes from my patients when they have completed the first stage of their treatment, “I am so glad I got arrested as I would never have found this help.”
Jim Cessford, former Police Chief of the Delta Police Department in Delta, British Columbia, in a speech to the Delta Police Board, stated:
“A punitive approach, including longer prison sentences is very costly and does not solve causes of criminal activity. An evidence-based treatment approach would include mandatory treatment unique to the needs of the offender...through a community-based model.”
In this second inspirational quote, Cessford acknowledges that our current system, which prioritizes denunciation and punishment over rehabilitation, just isn't working and points out that a greater emphasis on treatment needs to occur to address the real reasons people offend. Such a shift in focus, when adopted at the justice-system level, will motivate therapists like me to create research and/or evidence-based programmes specifically designed to treat individuals charged with and/or convicted of offenses and provide them with the knowledge and abilities necessary to prevent re-offending.
The third notable quote is from Canada's Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, in her forward to the text Law and Mental Disorder: A Comprehensive and Practical Approach, McLachlin (Bloom and Schneider [Eds]):
"Law cannot accomplish its purpose without understanding the mental processes that drive the human behavior with which law is concerned."
For me, this quote illustrates that the walls between the silos of medicine and mental health, the offending patient, and the justice system are beginning to break down in order to achieve outcomes that will help society and individuals through treatment rather than simply punishing behaviours.
If I am to focus on my patients' health and society's safety, as well as to work toward the ultimate goal of "No More Victims," we need more leaders like McLachlin and Cessford who endorse collaboration and rehabilitation - and the practitioners who can make it a reality.
So thank you Chief Justice Beverley McLaughlin, former Chief of Police James Cessford and my patients for your insights and your words.
Now we need the political will to make “No More Victims” a reality.