Therapeutic community program
The importance of a supportive environment
Therapeutic Community Defined
This is a type of community where people live together as a form of therapy. Such environments are drug-free and highly structured. In such a community, individuals can feel safe, explore new coping mechanisms, and learn to work with others. It is like a miniature society where members can grow and develop.
How a therapeutic community program works
In most therapeutic programs, participants live with therapists. In some communities, a therapist is present all the time, but this is not always the case. The community is run by consensus, and the therapist’s role is simply to mediate. Individuals in the program are put in a position where they must conform to the rest of the group. Peer pressure can be a powerful force in making people conform. If they do not, life will become difficult.
This type of program usually includes the following:
The therapeutic community is closely related to milieu therapy. This is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on using the environment as a therapeutic tool. The word “milieu” comes from French and means “middle place” or “middle ground.” The term “milieu” suggests a safe place, and that is what such a therapeutic environment is intended to be. Here the individual is seen as having the inner powers to change his own behavior. The environment is meant to encourage him to use and apply these inner powers. The lofty goal of milieu therapy is that every element of the individual’s environment should be therapeutic in nature.
Addiction treatment and milieu therapy
It is generally accepted that the environment in which addiction treatment takes place is important. For this reason, rehab facilities go to great lengths to create a therapeutic environment. These programs are not always called milieu therapy, but they are based on the same principles. The advantage of such an approach is that the focus shifts from simply treating the symptoms of addiction to building a life in recovery.
The benefits of a therapeutic community program
This type of environment helps individuals in many ways:
Important elements of a therapeutic community
For this type of community to be truly therapeutic, it must include certain elements:
The importance of a safe community
For individuals to change, they must feel safe. In the outside world, there can be many pressures that trap people in undesirable behavior. The stress of getting through the day can be all they can handle. Trying to change in such an environment can be challenging. The therapeutic community is designed to protect people from many stressors. Routine and predictability give them security – something that is often lacking in the outside world. There are fewer temptations, and while they are members of the community, there are usually no pressing work concerns or bills to pay. The community is all about therapy and growth. This gives individuals much more freedom to try new ways of dealing with life.
Halfway Houses as a therapeutic community
Some people who leave rehab then spend some time in a halfway house. These are sometimes called dry houses because the use of intoxicants is not allowed. Residents may stay in a halfway house for a period of a year or longer. In many cases, such facilities provide a therapeutic community where residents can develop further coping mechanisms. Such facilities also provide a safe environment in which individuals can build a successful recovery.