In the therapeutic community (TC) perspective, the substance abuse disorder is not distinct from the substance abuser. A picture of dysfunction and disturbance of individuals entering treatment reflects a more fundamental disorder of the whole person. This chapter presents the TC view of the disorder in the context of current biomedical, social, and psychological understanding of chemical dependency. Overall, the picture that individuals present when entering the TC is one of health risk and social crises. In the TC perspective, drug abuse is a disorder of the whole person, affecting some or all areas of functioning. In the TC view, social and psychological factors are recognized as the primary sources of the addiction disorder. Substance abusers themselves cite a variety of reasons and circumstances as causes of their drug use. TC policy on the use of pharmacotherapy is currently undergoing modifications.
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The therapeutic community (TC) for addictions descends from historical prototypes found in all forms of communal healing. A hybrid, spawned from the union of self-help and public support, the TC is an experiment in progress, reconfiguring the vital healing and teaching ingredients of self-help communities into a systematic methodology for transforming lives. Part I of this book outlines the current issues in the evolution of the TC that compel the need for a comprehensive formulation of its perspective and approach. It traces the essential elements of the TC and organizes these into the social and psychological framework, detailed throughout the volume as theory, model, and method. Part II discusses the TC treatment approach, which is grounded in an explicit perspective that consists of four interrelated views: the drug use disorder, the person, recovery, and right living. The view of right living emphasizes explicit beliefs and values essential to recovery. Part III details how the physical, social organizational, and work components foster a culture of therapeutic change. It also outlines how the program stages convey the process of change in terms of individual movement within the organizational structure and planned activities of the model. Part IV talks about community enhancement activities, therapeutic-educational activities, privileges and sanctions, and surveillance. The groups that are TC-oriented, such as encounters, probes, and marathons, retain distinctive self-help elements of the TC approach. Part V depicts how individuals change through their interaction with the community, provides an integrative social and psychological framework of the TC treatment process, and outlines how the basic theory, method, and model can be adapted to retain the unique identity of contemporary TCs.
In the therapeutic community (TC), the therapeutic and educational component that focuses specifically on the individual consists of the various forms of group process. The groups that are TC-oriented, such as encounters, probes, and marathons, retain distinctive self-help elements of the TC approach. This chapter provides an overview of general elements and forms of group process in the TC. Conventional psychotherapy and group therapy have not been particularly effective with substance abusers entering TCs for various reasons. Group tools are certain strategies of verbal and nonverbal interchange that are employed by participants to facilitate individual change in group process. There are two main classes of group process strategies: provocative tools and evocative tools. Provocative tools, hostility or anger, engrossment, and ridicule or humor, are most pointedly used to penetrate denial and break down deviant coping strategies such as lying.
Encounter group is a profoundly significant component of the therapeutic community (TC) approach, illustrating by example some of the TC’s basic teachings: compassion and responsible concern, the necessity for confronting reality, absolute honesty, and self-awareness as the essential first step in personal change. The encounter group is pre-eminently a verbal forum employing everyday personal and social vernacular. All encounter groups in the TC are similar in their preparation, structure, and process. An encounter unfolds as a process characterized in terms of four phases: the confrontation, the conversation, the closure, and the socializing phase. Ideally, each encounter accomplishes its general purpose of strengthening group cohesion and its goals for specific individuals. Depending upon its purpose or group composition, the encounter can be modified in intensity and format and the extent of staff involvement as facilitators.