New Freedom: Intentional Trauma-Informed Care for the Formerly Incarcerated, a Success Studio Recap

Lydia Pakpahan, Client Success Manager, spoke with Katherine Nisbet, Chief Clinical Officer of New Freedom as part of Kipu’s Success Studio on Thursday, April 7, 2022. New Freedom, located in Phoenix, AZ, is a recovery facility that prioritizes serving those who have recently been released from incarceration. New Freedom focuses on providing mentorship, transportation services, supportive housing, outpatient therapy and wellness, and transitional services.

Nisbet, a licensed substance abuse counselor with certification in criminal justice addiction, worked with the Department of Corrections prior to joining New Freedom. She shares that she got the opportunity to initiate a re-entry program for formerly incarcerated individuals in Maricopa County, AZ, that prioritized diversion.

“Instead of violating their terms of parole, they would come to our program and be there for 90 days. It really gave me a sense of what I want to do because you were doing something multifaceted. You’re providing drug treatment but you’re also providing living skills, case management, peer support,” shares Nisbet.

Nisbet worked in a variety of settings after her time at the Department of Corrections, including methadone clinics and as a consultant for Gold Canyon Heart and Home (GCHH), which ultimately led to the birth of New Freedom come October 2020. New Freedom operates out of an old hotel, a Four Points Sheraton, and so the supportive housing was designed in tandem with intensive outpatient services. Since GCHH works so closely with the incarcerated, through letter writing, to visualize and make plans for the future that look different.

This is where New Freedom comes in. Through peer support networks, New Freedom is right there, a “deep breath” for the realization that they are no longer incarcerated. Nisbet shares that it can be overwhelming and so the ease of transition to a facility with all day programming is specially designed.

The intensive programming focuses on “post-incarceration syndrome and trauma-informed care. We have a specially designed peer-support curriculum class that challenges cognitive distortions and the eight dimensions of wellness, all revolving around how they start talking about themselves to improve self-esteem.”

Other key elements to the programming at New Freedom include goal-setting and goal maintenance; everything is intentional. While the 7-hour days sets them up for structure, the weekends and days off are entirely up to them. Will they engage in the group activities or the self-help sessions? Will they stay in their rooms?

“All of those things are their options, their choices. So it’s intentional, in prison, [they] had no choice, no self-expression, [they] had no options. [New Freedom] expands those choices but safely,” shares Nisbet.

New Freedom has been designed and optimized to help guide this population during this tumultuous transition period.

“We want them to then affect change within their families, within their systems, within their employers. We’re generational trauma-focused here, because it’s going to keep happening.”

If you would like to hear more from Katherine, New Freedom, and the work that they do, check out the Success Studio Webinar here.

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