The therapeutic community (TC) is a culture of change. All of the activities, social roles, interpersonal interactions, and community teachings focus upon the theme of individual change. The perceptions that are considered to be essential to recovery are interrelated, although they can be organized into classes to clarify their contribution to the process. Perceptions related to treatment reflect the individual’s motivation, readiness, and suitability to engage in the process of change in the TC. Self-control is indicated when individuals perceive the problem as internal rather than external, as one of regulating their impulses. Perceptions of self-management of patterns of behaviors, attitudes, and feelings depend upon previously learned control of specific behaviors in various situations. Assessing and affirming individual progress is a central activity in the TC. Staff evaluations formally assess the levels of self-change, while peers and staff assess them informally.
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In the recovery perspective of the therapeutic community (TC), lifestyle and identity changes reflect an integration of behaviors, experiences, and perceptions. The essential experiences can be conceptualized under three broad themes: emotional healing, social relatedness and caring, and subjective learning. Emotional healing refers to moderating the various physical, psychological, and social pains that residents experience in their lives directly or indirectly relating to their substance use. The essential experiences reflecting psychological safety are blind faith and trust, and understanding and acceptance. Trust problems are prominent in the lifestyles of substance abusers. Hallmark characteristics of substance abusers in general are their lack of self-understanding and self-acceptance. Personal isolation or unhealthy attachments with others characterize the past social relationships of residents in TCs. The key social relatedness and caring experiences are identification, empathy, and bonding. In the TC, social learning unfolds as an interaction between the individual and the community.
In the therapeutic community (TC) perspective, changing the whole person unfolds in the continual interaction between the individual and the community. This chapter provides the multidimensional picture of social and psychological change in terms of behaviors, cognitions, and emotions. Four major dimensions reflect the community’s objective view of individual change. The dimensions of community member and socialization refer to the social development of the individual specifically as a member of the TC community and generally as a prosocial participant in the larger society. The developmental and psychological dimensions refer to the evolution of the individual as a unique person, in terms of personal growth, personality, and psychological function. Each illustrates typical indicators of individual change in terms of objective behaviors, cognitions, and emotions. Changing the “whole person”, however, includes how individuals perceive and experience the program, the treatment, and themselves in the process.
Privileges and sanctions constitute an interrelated system of community and clinical management through behavioral training. The management of the community is the responsibility of peers and staff. This chapter details the formal system of community privileges and sanctions prescribed by staff and the informal system of verbal affirmations and correctives implemented primarily by peers. Privileges are used to promote individual socialization and personal growth. It confirms the resident’s overall personal autonomy and ability for self-management. Money is a major problem in the lives of substance abusers. However, money difficulties also reflect social and psychological problems among substance abusers in therapeutic communities (TCs). Sanctions may be grouped into verbal correctives and disciplinary actions. Sanctions promote community awareness and peer self-management and maintain social order through addressing individual and collective infractions. Sexuality is approached differently from the other rule-governed behaviors in the TC.
Community is the primary means of teaching and healing in the therapeutic community (TC). This chapter presents an overview of the four main facility-wide community meetings, namely, morning meeting, seminar, and house meeting, and general meeting, as organized components of the daily regimen. The common purpose of the main meetings in the TC is to enhance the perception of community among the participants. These differences reflect community and clinical management as well as psychological considerations. Each meeting focuses on a specific component of community business and clinical transactions involving a large number of residents. This provides oversight of the physical security of the house and facilitates assessment of overall clinical status of the residents. Changes in individual or collective mood, attitude, and behavior can be quickly detected within a single day’s observation. Overall the various meetings are essential for efficient community as well as clinical management of the facility.