From a social and psychological perspective the therapeutic community (TC) can be distinguished from other institutional or treatment settings in that its social environment is the treatment model. The main elements of this model, its social organization, and social relationships are utilized for a single purpose the reintegration of the individual into the larger macrosociety. The social organization of the TC model may be described in terms of four major components: program structure, systems, communication, and the daily regimen of schedule activities. In the TC, however, each component is utilized to facilitate the socialization and psychological growth of the individual members. This chapter provides an overview of these components and how they contribute to the TC treatment approach. Each of these components of the social organization reflects an understanding of the TC perspective and each is used to convey community teachings and promote self-examination and self-change.
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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.
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.