Thursday, June 27, 2013

Psychiatric survivor, book author, CCSR peer educator, Nancy Jensen

Nancy Jensen, peer educator at the Center for Community Support and Research (CCSR), recently worked with Nathan P. Swink, PhD, to publish The Girl Who Cried “Wolf!,” the heroic story of Nancy’s journey through abuse at the hands of the mental health system toward recovery and independent living. The memoir includes the year she lived at the Kaufman House, the trial where she testified against the Kaufmans, as well as her experiences with mental illness and the road toward recovery.

You may recall the trial of Arlan and Linda Kaufman which was televised from the Federal Court house in Wichita in 2005 and the re-sentencing that followed. Arlan and Linda ran Kaufman House, a mental health facility in Newton, Kansas, where residents were subject to “nude therapy,” unchecked seclusion, and forced labor. 

Kaufman House was supposed to be a progressive answer for the mentally ill during the de-institutionalization era of the ‘70s and ‘80s, but it became a house of horrors. When Nancy tried to blow the whistle, she found that no one believed her. She was the girl who cried “Wolf!”

With the help of Nancy’s testimony, a federal jury found both Arlan and Linda Kaufman guilty. Since then Nancy has worked to pass a law creating an adult protective unit at the state level, received the prestigious Voice Award, and is currently a member of the Sedgwick County Mental Health Advisory Board. 

In her position at CCSR she works with a team training Certified Peer Specialists (CPSs) employed at mental health centers across the state and delivering the state certification exam. Nancy is a certified facilitator of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), an evidence-based, self-directed wellness tool to help people cope with stressors and deal with crisis situations.

“If it wasn’t for CCSR not only would I not be where I am in my recovery, but there would not be a book, Nancy said. “I say that because of the people who helped me make the book what it is.”

As Nancy has worked toward recovery, she continues to receive support from her family, friends and co-workers. She says that she heard about recovery and met some of the CCSR staff at the Recovery Conference in 2006. That was a pivotal time. One of those staff, WSU Psychology Professor Greg Meissen, PhD, and longtime friend, wrote the forward to the book.

Nancy Jensen, CPS
“…Nancy is a hero and a wise leader who serves as a role model for others with mental illness working with them on a daily basis,” Meissen wrote. “She is an advocate and champion for a Kansas movement to improve the lives of persons with mental illness. This is the best part of the story as Nancy persistently and courageously encourages many to work toward their recovery through her own story and how she leads her own life.”

“I see this book, hopefully opening up people, them wanting to know more about CPS, trauma informed care, and more about recovery”, said Nancy. “It opens the window of opportunity for more people especially those who suffer with mental illness or their provider to have a sense of how it worked for someone . . . me.”

After over 30 years in the system, Nancy has taken control of her mental health including eliminating medications and shifting away from Social Security-Disability in order to work full-time.

“It’s another life changing time in my life. It’s one thing to share your story face-to-face; it’s another to have it out there. It’s humbling. It’s a testament to the hard work.”

Book Signings

The Girl Who Cried “Wolf!” is available in paperback from A reading and book signing will be held at Mead’s Corner, 430 East Douglass, in Wichita, Kansas, on Saturday, July 6, 2013 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. A book signed will also be held on July 25 in Newton at Pages Books & Coffee, 605 N. Main St.

For more information Nancy can be reached at

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