In the therapeutic community (TC), recovery is viewed as a change in lifestyle and identity. It is a view that can be contrasted with the conventional concept of recovery in medicine, mental health, and other substance abuse treatment approaches. In the public health experience of treating opioid addiction and alcoholism, drug abuse is viewed as a chronic disease, which focuses treatment strategies and goals on improvement rather than recovery or cure. The TC view of recovery extends much beyond achieving or maintaining abstinence to encompass lifestyle and identity change. This chapter outlines this expanded view of recovery and details the goals and assumptions of the recovery process. It presents the TC view of right living, which summarizes the community teachings guiding recovery during and after treatment. The terms “habilitation” and “rehabilitation” distinguish between building or rebuilding lifestyles for different groups of substance abusers in TCs.
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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.
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.
In the therapeutic community (TC) perspective, the core of addiction disorder is the “person as a social and psychological being” how individuals behave, think, manage emotions, interact, and communicate with others, and how they perceive and experience themselves and the world. This chapter details the TC view of the person in terms of typical cognitive, behavioral, emotional, social, and interpersonal characteristics. Residents in TCs display a variety of cognitive characteristics associated with their substance abuse and lifestyle problems. Residents in TCs have difficulties experiencing, communicating, and coping with feelings. Their lack of emotional self-management is associated with much of their self-defeating social behavior. The social and interpersonal context of community life in the TC provides a setting for the emergence of all varieties of guilt. Although the TC view of the person pictures a typical profile of characteristics and problems, it does not necessarily depict an addictive personality.
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.
The quintessential element of the therapeutic community (TC) approach is community. It is the element of community that distinguishes the TC from all other treatment or rehabilitative approaches to substance abuse and related disorders. TCs differ profoundly from other communities in their rationale and purpose. This chapter discusses the general characteristics of community as a treatment approach: its relationship to the TC perspective, its healing and learning properties, and its social and cultural features. It translates this approach into a specific method the components of which are the “active ingredients” in the treatment process. Residents in TCs have been labeled as bad or rebellious kids, dangerous addicts or criminals, failures or losers, sick or crazy. The negative social labels become embedded in self-perceptions regarding their social and personal identities. The community approach fosters change in the social and personal elements of identity.
This chapter presents the formulation of the therapeutic community (TC) as theory, model, and method. The TC has proven to be a powerful treatment approach for substance abuse and related problems in living. The TC is fundamentally a self-help approach, evolved primarily outside of mainstream psychiatry, psychology, and medicine. The TC’s basic approach of treating the whole person through the use of the peer community, which was initially developed to address substance abuse, has been amplified with a variety of additional services related to family, education, vocational training, and medical and mental health. The evolution of the TC reveals the vigor, resourcefulness, and flexibility of the TC modality to expand and adapt to change. The sophistication of the TC is evident in the fact that Therapeutic Communities of America (TCA) has established criteria and procedures for evaluating counselors and certifying their competency.