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Therapeutic Community Questionnaire
About This Survey:
If you have been referred to this survey then, like me, you may have attended a Therapeutic Community (TC) at
some stage in your life.
Therapeutic Communities are becoming increasingly scarce as local authorities opt instead for Home Based
Treatment through a ‘Single Point of Access’ regime. In this model, the patient (at her worst) is referred to a Home
Treatment Team (HTT) for daily visits. These usually tether off within a month, and are replaced with less frequent visits
from the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT). A 24 Hour telephone line can be accessed at any point throughout
this time. The theory is that Home Based Treatment allows the patient the best possible chance of rehabilitation because
recovery is done within natural, as opposed to clinical surroundings.
I have experienced both forms of treatment: At St. Andrews Therapeutic Community from 2010-2011, and
through the Home Treatment / Community Mental Health Teams from 2015-2016. I recognise that Home Based
Treatment is indeed a valuable resource and a great leap forward from what was previously available. Through it I have
met some very skilled and compassionate professionals, it has frequently been my next ‘marker’ to aim for when life has
felt unmanageable, and most importantly follow-ups from a referral are extremely swift. However, for reasons I will
outline, it is my strong belief that Home Based Treatment cannot and does not replace the Therapeutic Community
model which is itself indispensable.
You are invited to fill-in this questionnaire (anonymously if you wish) in order to share your own personal
experiences of a Therapeutic Community, good or bad. Our aim is to compile enough feedback from ex-users to share
the data with relevant authorities / governing bodies, in the hope that it may influence future decision-making. If, as it
appears, we are to have been one of the last generations of Therapeutic Community users, then we would additionally
like the information to exist in published form as a permanent record and testament to the efficiency of this form of
Therapy.1

​Benefits of a Therapeutic Community
So, what does a Therapeutic Community provide that Home Treatment does not? Firstly, a Therapeutic
Community​ offers ​routine and structure to a person whose life has become chaotic and erratic. To the depressed
person, this can be the ‘something’ to get out of bed for, and to the anxious person, the safe parameters to experience
the waves of panic over and again (without the option of numbing or acting-out) until they become bearable.
Fundamentally, and speaking as a mentally ill person, I believe that a Therapeutic Community offers what the
sick individual yearns for the most: Namely, a structured, well-worn path (or process) which, if engaged with fully, can be
a direct route to healing. Indeed the service user gains confidence in this path as she observes the progress made by
senior members of the Community. A one hour home visit can at best only suggest a routine for the patient to follow
alone (or with an understanding friend) if she has the self-motivation and support network.
Secondly, a Therapeutic Community offers

​belonging and mutual support to those of us who have become
isolated and lacking in self-confidence. A profound moment in my healing journey at St. Andrew’s occurred the moment I
witnessed another person going through the same range of overwhelming and debilitating emotions (including anger,
rage, despair and hopelessness) as myself. It was then that I finally felt less alone, validated and understood. We were
described by one Therapist as akin to a pack of ‘wounded animals’; and people, he said, much like animals, need to be
part of a pack, particularly after trauma.
1

You will be asked to sign a consent form before your data is shared and/or published.

1

Therapeutic Community Questionnaire
The friendship network established at St Andrew’s continues long after we have left the programme. We remain
a vital resource to one another through regular checking-in, cafe meetings and social media (including a Facebook
group). Many of us are able to establish and maintain supportive friendships and relationships, sometimes for the very
first time, as a result of experiencing the sense of belonging that Group Therapy afforded us.It goes without saying that
the group cannot be replaced with an individual visit, however supportive, and that the relationship between Social
Worker and client is very different from that of two or more Community members.

​ Finally, a Therapeutic Community offers ​rehabilitation. Without the option of isolating and withdrawing to bed,
the Community member is forced primarily just to attend (or lose her place) and more, to relearn what it means to relate
to others, in a safe and supportive environment. Whilst the skilled home visitor can suggest, even enrol, a patient on a
course / activity, he cannot force her to attend. I believe this accounts for the especially high dropout rates on courses
tailored towards mental health.
Many of the professionals within a Therapeutic Community are trained Psychotherapists / Art Therapists, able to
facilitate talking Therapy groups. Talking Therapy enables the individual to process, understand and hopefully transcend
her trauma at a core level, and is a vital aspect of recovery. Once again this aspect is missing within the Home
Treatment Team, where the professionals are skilled Care Coordinators, nurses, even psychiatrists, but not Therapists.
As such, the crucial element of talking Therapy is omitted and visits instead concentrate on basic stabilization, until such
a time that the patient can be referred for a talking therapy.2
Feeling ‘held’ not only by the professional Therapists, but by one another, the routine, even the building itself, I
overcame my addictions to alcohol and tranquilizers, and saw other people do similarly with regard to self-harm and
overdosing. A key way in which this was achieved was through being able to observe how one’s behaviour impacts on
other Community members. If my drinking causes marked distress to others and is disciplined by the Therapists, then I
am much more less likely to act on my impulses, and opt instead for a skilful coping strategy. The dynamics here are
clearly much different than if one lives with her partner or family, where there is much more likely to be a codependent
relationship.

Footnote
Though we did not realise this at the time, we were to be one of the final generations of beneficiaries of St.
Andrew’s Therapeutic Community. Shortly after I left, the Intensive Group Therapy programme was cut from 4 ½ days
per week, to 1 ½ and is currently suspended, pending a review. I hope this questionnaire will serve as a testament to St
Andrew’s Therapeutic Community, along with many others, and the remarkable work that was done there.
Your participation in this survey is greatly appreciated. To partake, please select the option to print pages 3-5,
and once completed, post to the address listed at the bottom of the document (page 5). Please ensure that you tick the
‘Consent’ box if you agree for your information to be shared with the relevant governing bodies and / or published.
Finally,in order for this questionnaire’s reach to be as expansive and organic as possible, it is kindly requested that you
pass on the website details to as many ex-Community members (whom you are still in contact with) as possible.

2

If available. At the time of writing this, I have been waiting 22 months for a 10 week course of CBT.

2

Therapeutic Community Questionnaire
Name*

You do not need to provide your real name
Age

Email Address ​(Optional)*

Please provide if you wish to be kept updated by email. This will not be shared or published.

1. Which Therapeutic Community did you attend, and when? Was the Community residential or non-residential? How
many days per week were you expected to attend?

Eg. St Andrew's Therapeutic Community, York (2010-2011). Non-residential, 4 ½ days / week.

2. Which activities were incorporated into your Therapeutic Community programme?

Eg. Group Psychotherapy, Art Therapy, Mindfulness, Moving On Group.
Please provide as much information about these activities as you can.

3. What brought you to a Therapeutic Community?​ Had you tried other therapies before a Therapeutic Community? If so,
what were they, and to what extent were they beneficial?

4. What was your wellbeing / quality of life like before you started at a Therapeutic Community? What symptoms did you
experience? What, if any, acting-out behaviours / addictions did you engage in to numb the feelings?

3

Therapeutic Community Questionnaire
5. How long is it since you left a Therapeutic Community? If at all, how would you say things have changed for you in that
time? Has your life been able to develop in a way it wouldn't have done without Therapeutic Community intervention?
Please provide as much information about these changes as you can.

6. Do you still practice coping methods you learnt in a Therapeutic Community? If so, what are they, and how do they aid
your wellbeing? Do you still have the same acting-out behaviours / addictions? If not, what has replaced them?
Eg Learning to sit through the feelings.

7. Do you still maintain friendships developed within a TC? Are you engaged socially now less, more or the same amount
as before you started at a Therapeutic Community?

Please give details of your current social life.

8. Are you engaged in life through hobbies, activities and interests now less, more, or the same amount as before you
started at a Therapeutic Community?

Please give details of these current hobbies / interests.

9.. In general, what was your experience of being at a Therapeutic Community? What was the most rewarding thing
about being on the programme? What was the most challenging thing?

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Therapeutic Community Questionnaire
10. On a scale of 0 (not at all) to 10 (absolutely), how much would you recommend a Therapeutic Community to others
who are in a similar situation to your own?
Please explain your score.

11. Are there any further comments which you wish to add regarding your experience of being at a Therapeutic
Community?

Consent*

Please tick here if you agree to give your consent for the information you have provided to be shared with relevant
governing bodies, and / or used for publication.

Post to:
Therapeutic Community Questionnaire,
42 Walmer Carr,
Wigginton,
York,
YO32 2SX

5


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