Democratic therapeutic communities for the future. How can we face epochal changes without distorting our mission?

Today therapeutic communities live in a condition of uncertainty and precariousness, due to a tangle of epochal changes, from a cultural, political and economical angle. The financial trouble led to cuts in mental health services, increasing regulation and administrative demands. The fact of facing this phenomenon of increasing stiffening, particularly on a political and institutional ground, pushed the therapeutic communities to implement an additional effort to “adapt” to this situation in a reasonable and sustainable way, without putting at risk the principles and values on which their clinical practice and research was founded.

The authors examine these issues talking briefly about the organisations who are all members of an extended family, then analyse some of the difficulties we all face and examine in depth the peculiarities of Community of Communities project.

Ultimately, the paper intends to outline the processes through which UK TC movement is trying to cope with internal and external pressures. Taken as a whole, it is a process of “sustainable adaptation” to the world in which we’re living, that has to be grounded on a full respect of those democratic values and clinical principles the therapeutic community has always been founded on.

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