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The therapeutic community (TC) is a culture of change. All of the activities, social roles, interpersonal interactions, and community teachings focus upon the theme of individual change. The perceptions that are considered to be essential to recovery are interrelated, although they can be organized into classes to clarify their contribution to the process. Perceptions related to treatment reflect the individual’s motivation, readiness, and suitability to engage in the process of change in the TC. Self-control is indicated when individuals perceive the problem as internal rather than external, as one of regulating their impulses. Perceptions of self-management of patterns of behaviors, attitudes, and feelings depend upon previously learned control of specific behaviors in various situations. Assessing and affirming individual progress is a central activity in the TC. Staff evaluations formally assess the levels of self-change, while peers and staff assess them informally.
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.
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.
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.
At the core of the change process in the therapeutic community (TC) is the relationship between the individual and the community. Internalization is a familiar psychodynamic concept connoting learning that involves “taking in” the behavior and teachings of others. In the TC, internalization is evident when new learning becomes a “natural” part of the individual’s repertoire. In the TC internalization is inferred from patterns of behavioral, experiential, and perceptual change occurring over time. These may be described in terms of several broad characteristics: cognitive dissonance and behavioral conflict, generalization, learning to learn, and confirmatory experiences. The course of internalization can be characterized as a gradient that depicts changing levels or stages of internalization. Four stages refer to changes during treatment, compliance, conformity, commitment to program, and commitment to self. A change in identity is the distinctive marker of the integration stage.
In the therapeutic community (TC), peers are the primary change agents. In their varied social roles and interpersonal relationships, residents are the mediators of the socialization and therapeutic process. This chapter details how peer roles and relationships are utilized by the community to facilitate the goals of socialization and psychological change. The socialization history of serious substance abusers is marked by negative peer influences. Functional roles in the TC are those involving performance demands, prescribed skills and attitudes, and defined relationships with others. Three prominent community member roles are peers as managers, as siblings, and as role models. A defining element of the TC model is the use of peer roles for social learning. The chapter describes how the various community and functional roles in the social organizations are utilized by peers to change themselves and others and how socially conditioned race-ethnic and gender roles and issues are addressed.
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.
Work is one of the most distinctive components of the therapeutic community (TC) treatment model. Indeed, the telling mark of the TC social environment is the vibrancy of its work activities. Work in the TC is a fundamental activity used to mediate socialization, self-help recovery, and right living. This chapter describes how work mediates essential educational, therapeutic, and community goals. For disadvantaged, antisocial, or nonhabilitated substance abusers, many of whom have few work skills, social identity and self-esteem are first acquired through participation in the work structure of the TC. Work in the TC addresses characteristics of the person and the disorder. These characteristics can be classified into related categories: personal habits, work habits, work relations, self-management, and work value. Job functions are utilized in three main ways: for skills training and education, for therapeutic change, and to enhance the peer community.
As components of the therapeutic community (TC) treatment model, the stages define the program’s plan for moving individuals toward the goals of social and psychological change. This chapter describes the process of change in the TC in terms of participation and levels of involvement. It focuses on participation and community as method through the program stages. The chapter outlines some relations between the social and psychological dimensions of individual change and the community expectations for participation. It also describes the process of multidimensional change through treatment in terms of levels of involvement in the community. Participation and involvement link community as method to the individual in the change process. The terms engagement, immersion, and emergence label the individual’s level of involvement in the community. Perceptions related to self and identity are incremental through the levels of involvement.
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.
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.
A theoretical framework of the therapeutic community (TC) grounded in clinical and research experience can maintain the unique identity of the TC and the fidelity of its wider applications. This chapter illustrates several broad initiatives: generic TC model, general guidelines for adapting and modifying the TC for special settings, special populations, and funding limits; the codification of principles and practices of the TC into explicit standards to maintain the integrity of the program model and method, training and technical assistance, and research agenda. Staffing compositions have changed to reflect a mix of traditional professionals; correctional, mental health, medical, educational, family, and child care specialists; social workers; and case managers to serve along with the experientially trained TC professionals. The evolution of the contemporary TC for addictions over the past 30 years may be characterized as a movement from the marginal to the mainstream of substance abuse treatment and human services.
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.
In the therapeutic community (TC), program stages are prescribed points of expected change. Individual status can be described in terms of typical profiles at various points in the plan of the program. This chapter provides a description of the program stages as the main structural component of the TC model, specifically designed to facilitate the change process. In traditional long-term residential TCs, there are three main program stages, induction, primary treatment, and re-entry, consisting of several phases or substages. These stages are described in terms of main goals, stage-specific activities, and typical outcomes. Individuals who complete all stages of the planned duration of treatment are candidates for program graduation. Aftercare plans are a special activity of the late re-entry phase of the program. Each stage-phase marks signify where individuals are in their socialization and psychological growth.
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.
In the therapeutic community (TC), surveillance means supervision and management of the orderliness and safety of the physical environment, as well as the health and conduct of the social environment. This chapter describes the main facility-wide surveillance activities of the general inspections (GI), the house run, and urine testing, actions implemented in the management of the community. The GI is a useful community and clinical management activity. The house run is the main system of surveillance in the TC. In terms of management goals, house runs permit early detection of potentially larger problems such as those related to fire, sanitation, and security. However, its fundamental clinical purpose is to assess the status of individuals in terms of self-care, self-management, and their relationship to the community. The main urine test procedures used by most TCs are unannounced random urine screens and incident-related testing procedures.
This chapter describes the various roles and functions of the treatment program or clinical management staff in the residential facility. It characterizes the roles of support staff and agency personnel. Teachers, physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, lawyers, and accountants in the TC ply their professions in the usual way. The relationship between staff and peer roles is rooted in the evolution of the Therapeutic Community (TC). In the TC approach, the role of staff is complex and can be contrasted with that of mental health and human service providers in other settings. An array of staff activities underscores the distinctively humanistic focus of the TC. The chapter describes how primary clinical staff in the treatment program supervise the daily activities of the peer community through their interrelated roles of facilitator, counselor, community manager, and rational authority. Other staff provide educational, vocational, legal, medical, and facility support services.
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.
The idea of the therapeutic community (TC) recurs throughout history implemented in different incarnations. In its contemporary form, two major variants of the TC have emerged. One, in social psychiatry, consists of innovative units and wards designed for the psychological treatment and management of socially deviant psychiatric patients within mental hospital settings. In the other form, TCs have taken are as community-based residential treatment programs for addicts and alcoholics. This chapter explores the sources and evolution of these communities to illustrate how they contribute to the theoretical framework of the TC. It describes the direct and indirect influences shaping the essential elements of the modern TC. The early religious influences on the Oxford group and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) reappear as elements of the modern TC. The search for an “essential TC” reveals a universal idea recurring in various forms throughout history: that of healing, teaching, support, and guidance through community.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.