Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Therapeutic communities-Evaluation, Mental health personnel-Attitudes, Therapeutic community, Psychiatric treatment, Communal treatment setting, Empowerment, Therapeutic work program, Relationship-centered care


This study was undertaken to explore staff members' perceptions of the effective aspects of psychiatric treatment within a therapeutic community setting. Twelve staff members who had been working within a therapeutic community setting for a minimum of one year participated in semi-structured interviews which explored the various aspects of treatment which were considered to be particularly conducive to recovery. The total sample (N=12) included three participants from each of the four therapeutic communities included in the study: Gould Farm, Spring Lake Ranch, Hopewell Therapeutic Farm, and Cooper Riis. Since very little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of psychiatric treatment within a therapeutic community setting in the United States, it is hoped that this study will contribute to the dearth of literature on this particular topic. The findings indicated that the effective aspects which were most frequently identified were: community membership, participation in the work program, opportunities for empowerment, and relationship building. Through the course of the interviews it became evident that these four effective aspects of treatment tend to overlap and intersect. Many staff members felt that it was the combination of these four themes which worked together as a whole to accomplish the positive treatment results.




iii, 80 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 68-70)