Patients Find Renewed Purpose Through Therapeutic Communities

When patients come to Haymarket for treatment, our objective is to treat the whole person in their journey from substance use disorder – including their physical and behavioral health. But we go even further in order to give our patients a renewed outlook and sense of purpose. To this end, Haymarket Center has been implementing practices of Therapeutic Community into residential treatment.

Therapeutic community (TC) is a residential, group-based approach to treating substance use disorders. In a therapeutic community, patients develop a series of routines that are designed to foster long-term coping mechanisms for mental illness and substance use disorders. Haymarket, after a series of trainings and research into ways to improve the experiences of patients in our care, adopted these practices in 2021. These routines are executed in the context of group-living and include morning and evening house meetings, job assignments, group sessions, scheduled personal time, recreation, and individual counseling. By practicing these routines in a group environment, patients are able to develop both a stronger sense of interpersonal behavior and a renewed sense of identity outside of their respective disorder.

Tone Sirbas, Assistant Clinical Director, explained how this approach is put into practice at Haymarket.
“When a new client arrives on the unit, they are greeted by an orientation team member and assigned a big sister or brother,” she explained. “During the first week they are oriented to the unit and will assist with chores assigned to their big sister/brother. During their 2nd week they are assigned to a team on which they will work throughout their stay. As they progress successfully through treatment, they will have the opportunity to be voted into a coordinator position. Eventually, if the opportunity arises and they have shown leadership capabilities, they may be voted into the peer leader position. This process allows the clients to take ownership of their unit and their behavior while teaching job and leadership skills.”

Perhaps the key benefit to therapeutic communities is the ability for patients to set their own goals regarding their recovery journey and personal development. Through group collaboration and counseling with trusted and trained counselors, patients are able to manage their emotions, build back self-esteem that may have been damaged prior to getting help, and develop positive coping mechanisms to maintain their path on their recovery journey.

Therapeutic communities are just one of many ways that Haymarket Center provides holistic and comprehensive treatment for those with substance use disorders.

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