Therapeutic communities

Clarke, Simon; Winship, Gary; Clarke, Jenelle and Manning, Nick (2017). Therapeutic communities. In: Chambers, Mary ed. Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing: The craft of caring (3rd ed). Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 631–640.



This chapter provides an introduction to therapeutic communities (TCs). The chapter begins with a brief illustration of the core principles underlying TCs, before exploring the development of TCs in their historical context. The foundations of mental health nursing, through the work of Hildegard Peplau and Annie Altschul especially, are shown to be coterminous with the emergence of the TC method. The narrative is also interspersed with a service user’s account of his experiences in a TC. With its emphasis from the start on social inclusion and user involvement, it is argued that TC methods continue to promise radically and politically informed mental health practice, compensating the anti-therapeutic tendencies inherent in modern psychiatry. This relationship is further highlighted in the chapter through a discussion of TCs version of ‘recovery’ compared to mainstream psychiatric care and by illustrating TCs’ unique craft of caring.

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