Technique

Most if not all the treatment in a therapeutic community takes place in groups and in the everyday life of the community, although some also use individual psychotherapy. The essence of the therapeutic community technique has been encapsulated in two phrases.

• A living-learning situation: this refers to the fact that everything that happens between members of a therapeutic community in the course of living together, and in particular when a crisis occurs, is used as a learning opportunity. (1J • Culture of enquiry: this refers to the creation not just of certain structures but of a basic culture among the staff of 'honest enquiry into difficulty'. There is a conscious effort to identify and challenge dogmatic assertions or accepted wisdoms. (15>

The basic mechanism of change is not difficult to explain. The therapeutic community provides a wide range of lifelike situations in which the difficulties a member has experienced in their relationships with others outside are re-experienced, with regular opportunities in small group and community meetings to examine and learn from these difficulties. To operate this mechanism requires both staff and residents to fulfil a number of roles.

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