What is therapeutic community?

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Definition of a therapeutic community

The primary goal of a therapeutic community(tc) is to foster personal growth. This goal is accomplished by changing an individual’s lifestyle through a community of concerned people working together to help themselves and each other.

The tc represents a highly structured environment with defined boundaries, both moral and ethical. It employs community imposed sanctions and penalties, as well as earned advancement of status and privileges as part of the recovery and growth process. Being a part of something greater than oneself is an especially important factor in facilitating positive growth. The environment offers an opportunity to reestablish self respect and encourages self-improvement. Members learn self-reliance with a residential setting that has family ideals. There are house rules, work ethics, community guidelines, high expectations, and individual goals.

People in a tc are members of a family, not patients. These members play a significant role in managing the tc  and in acting as positive role models for newer members to emulate. Clients and staff alike act as facilitators, emphasizing personal responsibility for one’s own life and for self-improvement. Our staff provides moral and emotional support, as well as professional services to our members. There is also a sharing of meaningful labor within the community so that each client has a real investment in the welfare and survival of the community as well as his or her individual survival.

Peer pressure is often the catalyst that converts criticism and personal insight into positive change. High expectations and a high level of commitment from all support this positive change. Insight into problems gained through group and individual interaction. Learning through experience, failing and succeeding, and experiencing the consequences of one’s actions are considered to be the most potent influence toward achieving lasting change.

Tc emphasizes the integration of an individual within his/her community. Progress is measured within the context of that community and against that community’s expectations. It is the community, working with the individual, which accomplishes the positive change in the member. The ability to live up to the community’s expectations is taken as an important measure of readiness to move toward integration into the larger society outside of Integrity House.

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