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.
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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.