James Kansas Cafferty
MA, LLADC, MCA, M-RAS, CSC, MFTI, CAMF, ICAADC
B.S. in Human Services
Director of /Clinical Services, Orange County Psychiatry & Addiction Medicine
“I’m an example of what happens when kids get the right help,” Kansas Cafferty says. A foster child and ward of the state until his 18th birthday, Cafferty struggled with addictions as a teenager. Drug-free now for 15 years, he has been working with people for 14 of them. “Kids who are helped to find their path pay that forward, and it has a ripple effect throughout our society,” he said.
It's a school that meets students where they are - with the experience that they bring - separating them from their fears and getting them to jump in and make things happen.
Cafferty launched his career by earning his bachelor’s degree with a concentration in community youth development and leadership at Springfield College School of Human Services (SHS). He has a special interest in ensuring effective treatment for adolescents with substance use disorders. Cafferty has worked in various addiction treatment settings including residential, intensive outpatient and school-based. He has also been a therapist at a prestigious residential facility for the treatment of eating disorders, and the family program therapist for a program well known for its intensive work with difficult-to-reach and chronic-relapsing clients suffering from complicated mental health problems.
As a member of the Adolescent Specialty Leadership Committee for the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Counselors (NAADC), Cafferty has also worked on a national level to improve addiction treatment standards at home and abroad. He helped develop the adolescent specialist endorsement, a credential that impacts state-level certification for professionals in this field. The endorsement established a standard for competencies and recognizes a high level of effective clinical practice. It has resulted in the hiring of well trained staff and better care at treatment programs nationwide.
Reflecting back, Cafferty credits his time at SHS as critical in his development. He had dropped out of community college repeatedly over seven years while working full time without family support. The SHS weekend program allowed him time for work and study, and the curriculum was ideally suited to his aspirations.
“The emphasis is on learning to change your community while you’re going through your own development and change. It’s a school that meets students where they are – with the experience that they bring – separating them from their fears and getting them to jump in and make things happen.
“The program is like a tapestry where everything interconnects. Classes have their own focus, but the thread that runs throughout the curriculum is learning by experience and from the experiences of other students. Student projects benefit the community. In class, there’s an emphasis on discussions with peers, which helps later on in the boardroom,” Cafferty says.
Cafferty is widely recognized as an expert in his field, and his work has been featured in such industry publications as “Counselor Magazine” and ”Addiction Professional Magazine.”