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Therapeutic Communities of America (TCA) is the national membership organization of drug free, self-help substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation agencies. Founded in 1975, TCA has grown to a consortium of over 400 programs throughout the United States and Canada. The organization represents the interests of its member programs and their thousands of dedicated staff workers, who know that through appropriate intervention and treatment the drug problem can be addressed effectively.

The member agencies of TCA serve the widest variety of populations. Adults and adolescents are served in both residential and outpatient programs. In addition, the TCA members deal with a broad spectrum of special needs populations, including people who are HIV positive; former IV users who are at high risk for HIV/AIDS; pregnant and post-partum drug-addicted women; mentally ill chemical abusers; criminal justice populations (both incarcerated and in the community); homeless; physically handicapped; learning disabled; veterans; gay, lesbian and bi-sexual; battered women and their children; and mothers with drug-exposed children.

In serving diverse populations, we have uncovered diverse needs. The many different kinds of support services and ancillary programs and activities that we provide for our clients as well as for others (both in relation to clients and in the community at large) are truly impressive. We are providing a wide spectrum of formal educational programs, both academic and vocational. The academic programs range from special education to GED programs, full high schools, and - in some instances - college courses. We provide for clients' health and medical needs (primary medical care, HIV/AIDS services), physical needs (athletics), spiritual needs (pastoral counseling), and social and cultural needs. We provide for the needs of clients' families and intimates, also, through family groups and counseling, significant-other programs, parenting programs and support groups. We worry about our clients' post-treatment adjustment and well-being - and so we are involved with providing housing, self-help groups, on-going support groups and drop-in counseling.

We are also deeply involved in the community. We provide community services and we conduct outreach activities. We provide information, referrals and assessments for the individuals whom we reach - or who reach out to us. We carry out drug-related educational activities by a variety of names: drug education and prevention, public education, elder education, and others. We run employee assistance programs in workplaces and prevention programs in schools.

We are also seeking to broaden our knowledge base to new areas. We run programs involving the therapeutic uses of methadone and of acupuncture. We are conducting research to validate and refine our existing methods and to help us develop new ones.

In short, we are an active and multi-faceted group of treatment programs. We are striving in as many ways as we can devise to serve new populations as well as the more traditional ones, to help eliminate drug addiction and to improve the lives of our clients, their families, and our mutual communities.

What is a Therapeutic Community?

Therapeutic communities (TCs) are value-based drug treatment programs that focus on total, multi-dimensional change. Therapeutic community values can be summed up as a "view of right living." This view emphasizes truth and honesty, the work ethic, learning to learn, personal accountability, economic self-reliance, responsible concern for peers, family responsibility, community involvement, and good citizenry.

The basic goal of a TC is to offer a lifestyle which includes drug abstinence, elimination of anti-social (criminal) behavior, development of employable skills, and the acquisition of positive attitudes, values and behaviors which reflect honesty, responsibility, non-violence and self reliance.

What Do Therapeutic Communities Do?

The primary objective of a therapeutic community is to foster personal growth and change. TCs utilize four categories of activity to promote comprehensive change in the individuals who enter treatment: behavior management; emotional/psychological; intellectual and spiritual; and vocational/survival skills. The healing force that accomplishes this change is the community, acting in a highly organized and structured fashion and imposing activities and responsibilities on the individual.

TCs utilize a combination of counseling, group therapy and peer pressure to rehabilitate hardcore drug users and assist them to redirect their lives toward positive goals. These programs provide a family environment in which honesty, trust and self-help are stressed. At the same time, strict discipline and adherence to rules set a no-nonsense tone and make clear the seriousness of the work at hand.

From day one, clients are expected to take responsibility for themselves in terms of personal cleanliness, tidiness and appropriateness of behavior. In addition, they are assigned to jobs within the communal structure (e.g., kitchen, maintenance, reception) as part of the daily regimen. Clients are given progressively more responsibility as they prove themselves through their behavior to be ready to handle it.

TCs provide comprehensive drug treatment and support services - including primary health care, drug/disease prevention and education, vocational preparation and job placement, family services, housing and aftercare services. They work with clients to establish new goals and to develop new skills. Clients come to understand that reaching their initial goals while in treatment is only the first step. They are expected to continue to use the tools acquired in treatment for the rest of their lives. Hardworking, taxpaying TC alumni who have successfully turned around their lives as a result of treatment are numerous in all parts of the country and all walks of life.

Copyright © 1999
Therapeutic Communities of America
Contact us:
1611 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 4-B
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 296-3503