What is a Therapeutic Community?
The motto of a Therapeutic Community is “each one, teach one”. This implies that individuals assume responsibility not only for their own recovery, but also for the recovery of their peers. They recognize that the recovery of each member is related to the recovery of all and conduct themselves accordingly – this, in turn, reinforces their own recovery. Personal growth and proper living are achieved by peers serving as role models, providing support through interaction, and confronting each other in group sessions. By doing all of this, participants come to understand and resolve the cause of their addiction and also gain the tools they need to stay sober.
Program participants are expected to observe the behaviours and attitudes of their peers and take action to promote change. The more senior participants teach by example and provide instruction and leadership. They act as big brothers and sisters to the more junior members. They show them how to work, encourage them, reach out to them, “pull them up”, monitor them, and correct their negative behaviours.
A Safe & Structured Community for Recovery
As defined by the Canadian Center for Substance Abuse, a Therapeutic Community (TC) is a “group based, highly structured and powerful treatment approach to addiction recovery.”
“Therapeutic communities (TCs) have a recovery orientation, focusing on the whole person and overall lifestyle changes, not simply abstinence from drug use.” – US National Institute on Drug Abuse
Therapeutic Communities have been around since the 1950s and go much further than simply helping individuals to stop using drugs and alcohol. They provide a supportive environment where individuals learn why they used and help them develop all the tools necessary to stay sober. Within a Therapeutic Community treatment program, participants change their destructive attitudes, behaviours, values, and lifestyles.
Lasting recovery takes time.
Learning a totally new lifestyle cannot be achieved in a short-term program. To expect people with a history of addiction to turn their lives around and maintain sobriety after only a few months of treatment is simply unrealistic. This is why treatment at a Therapeutic Community lasts between 2 to 5 years.
Leadership & Collaboration: We’re in this together.
In a Therapeutic Community, program participants are considered equals in their struggle to change their lives.
While they have no formal authority over their peers, they have considerable informal authority in their community management roles. They are taught to become leaders by handling increasing amounts of responsibility in their job functions and general supervision. As junior members are primarily in learning roles, less demand is placed on them to lead. As they progress through the stages of the program, their attitudes and behaviours change while their responsibility, accountability, and self-worth increase.
All program participants are expected to provide assistance to others in areas where they have special expertise. Those with skills and experience provide seminars and workshops and those with academic proficiency provide tutoring in subjects such as language, computers, mathematics, reading, and writing.
I look forward to continuing to be an example for others. I now believe I have a lot to offer those going through similar struggles.
Change Your Life At John Volken Academy
While no two Therapeutic Communities are alike, the well-functioning ones provide their program participants with all the tools they will need to handle life’s many challenges. They achieve this, in part, through extensive personal development and career preparation – both of which are crucial for a rewarding life of sobriety. JVA is a place where people change their lives.