Therapeutic communities (TCs) are designed to enhance the residents’ experience of community within the residence. This chapter explores how the physical environment of the TC, its setting, facilities, and inner environment, can contribute to this perception and affiliation with community. Its separateness from the outside community in addition to its living spaces, furnishings, and décor are all utilized to promote affiliation, a sense of order, safety, and right living. TCs for the treatment of addiction are located in a variety of settings, which may be determined by funding sources and the external resistance to or acceptance of rehabilitation programs. Within the context of the TC perspective, privacy is considered an earned privilege based on the individual’s social and psychological growth. There are four physical features of the inner environment that instantly identify what is unique about a TC program: the front desk, the structure board, wall signs, and decorative artifacts.
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This chapter presents a conceptual framework of the treatment process in the therapeutic community (TC). The essential elements of the perspective, model, and method are reformulated into the three broad components of the treatment process. First, the multiple interventions in the process consist of the program structure, the people, daily regimen of activities, and social interactions in the TC. Second, individual change is multidimensional, described in terms of objective social and psychological domains as well as subjective perceptions and experiences. Third, social and behavioral learning principles and subjective mechanisms such as critical experiences, perceptions, and internalization are integral in the process itself. The main elements of the treatment process in the TC have been described in terms of community interventions, behavioral dimensions, and the essential perceptions and experiences. All change in the TC is viewed from a behavioral orientation in terms of learning and training.
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.
Residents in the therapeutic community (TC) engage in a variety of interpersonal roles and relationships both within and outside of the program. Friendships and attachments, romantic or sexual, “naturally” emerge within the peer community and are profoundly affected by the insistent intimacy of the TC community life. This chapter examines how these interpersonal relationships are utilized to transmit community teachings on right living and recovery. The poor quality of past friendships and romantic attachments has been implicated in the drug problems of substance abusers in general. Among residents in TCs, the relationship problems that most commonly surface are related to sexuality, interpersonal fears, and lack of relationship skills and values. Of special importance to the individual and the community, however, are three main types of relationships: sexual relationships, romantic relationships, and friendships. Contemporary TCs have changed their tolerance levels toward greater acceptance of homosexuality.