Cairns Regional Social Service Provider Portal


Guest Blogger Imogen Reed~ Introduction to Therapeutic Communities

Teenager in thought - (Wiki Commons)

A Therapeutic Community is a facility where a group-therapy model is used to treat personality disorder, drug addiction, compulsive self-harm, anxiety, eating disorders and various other disordered behaviours. The difference between normal group therapy and a therapeutic community is the residential with fairly intense interaction potentially at any time of the day or night.

Therapists, who can be doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists or psychotherapists usually live in the facility with the patients, in shifts and can be called upon to attend crisis meetings whenever needed. However, residents are encouraged to lead the therapy sessions, with little input from therapists. Residents are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions by other residents, and those not conforming to the community rules can find themselves sanctioned by the group.


Therapeutic communities have been used in Great Britain since the end of the Second World War, when they were used to treat soldiers returning from the Front suffering with Shell Shock.

In fact, an Englishman called Thomas Main, who was a member of the Royal Medical Corps, coined the notion and expression ‘therapeutic community’. He went on to work for thirty years at the famous Cassel Hospital in London, which is where the model was created – a democratic, patient led community with limited sanctions available.

Maxwell Jones and R.D Laing developed his ideas, amongst others. Therapeutic communities were popular throughout the Sixties, but their use has dropped off in recent years, largely due to cost. Despite this, the improvements seen in patients’ outcomes were well established, statistically. Recidivism dropped and a majority of community members reported a drop in their psychiatric problems, and better skills in dealing with them when they occurred.

In the United States the development of therapeutic communities has developed slightly differently. They tend to favour a more hierarchical structure, and drug dependence treatment centres and prisons are the main proponents of the treatment model. Today in the United States therapeutic ‘camps’ are also favoured for troubled teenagers, which perform a similar function with an added outdoor function. Structure and rules are important in therapeutic communities and residents are happy to keep the community functioning by the application of peer group pressure.


Often the use of drugs is not allowed in therapeutic communities – not psychiatric drugs or any other medication, including pain relief. This is because of the belief that people’s minds affected their bodies, and psychosomatic symptoms are the result. Residents are encouraged to talk about their feelings when they are feeling ill. The illness they are experiencing is often seen as a metaphor for trapped emotions.

If someone is bottling up their experience of child abuse, for example, and is not able to discuss it, their throat may hurt, as they struggle to keep the experience inside. Interestingly, there is quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that this approach works, with symptoms lifting as patients begin to talk. Another approach that many students find hard to understand is the non-intervention of staff in psychiatric crises. This is because the emphasis is for patients to manage their own and other people’s symptoms, to take responsibility for the care of others and for the community.

Unless there is a danger of physical harm to an individual, it is unusual for any action to be taken by staff at all. Thus patients are called upon to restrain other patients, take them to hospital after self-harming episodes, and work suicide watch shifts throughout the night.

Other approaches to therapy are Art therapy, gardening, and local conservation work. Strict cleaning and cooking rotas are set out, and adhered to, with patients taking turns to carry out the tasks needed to keep the community running.

A major part of treatment, however, centres around group therapy, with residents encouraged to discuss their problems in depth over weeks and months, asking for opinions and ‘feedback’ from fellow residents. These meetings can be whole community meetings, or smaller group meetings. Any incidents that happen during the day are discussed fully with the community and everyone is encouraged to let residents who have been disruptive know how the incident has left them feeling.

A powerful form of peer pressure thus exists within the community, and those who transgress – either in violence, self-harm or suicide attempts, are faced with the consequences of their actions on their peers.

Current Provision

In the UK the larger institutions, such as the famous Henderson Hospital in Sutton, have now been closed due to budgetary restraints. The model still exists but it is now atomised and seldom full time residential. Therapy is undertaken several times a week in smaller communities. More support is moving ‘online’, which extends the reach of the therapy, but is a pale imitation of the pioneering inpatient model. The North Cumbria model is one example of this practice.

In the USA, therapeutic community models were introduced to prison populations in the 1960s, most notably by the Asklepion Foundation. They used transactional analysis, the twelve step program, and other models to reduce re-offending, with some success. This was taken forward by the Virginia Correctional system, for example, right up until the 1980s.  Other types of therapeutic community still exist in the United States, with many of the tenets used in prisons to treat alcohol and substance abuse.

Useful Links & Further Reading

World Federation of Therapeutic Communities :

Association of Therapeutic Communities:

Treatment Communities of America:


Psychology Tutor:Mentor Daily Gazette is Live!

Check it out, Psychology Tutor:Mentor (PSI) now has a Daily Gazette~ How excitement! More psychology focused articles and news and, more psychology student resources, like help with reflective journaling. This was my first try at collating material and I will be tweaking material till I find what we all agree is ‘good stuff’.

Let me know what materials you would like to see more of.


PASW Shares~ Enabling the psychology student-centred learning experience

Image: Using SPSS and PASW

Part of my role as a private psychology Tutor:Mentor is providing students with PASW (previously SPSS) resources to enable self-learning. The key to understanding statistics,  is to put it into practice in your daily life. Keep a learning journal, a ‘learning shoebox’ of accumulated notes or simply jot messages onto your mobile phone~ as long as you are collecting data relevant to your life. These practices are the hub of my tutoring and mentoring professioanl development.

Use this data to practice navigating PASW spreadsheets, to become familiar with research design and methods of data collection and analysis that suit your research question. For example, plot your weekly exercise~ weather you are a dedicated gym-bo or simply, like me, make lifestyle choices that enable physical activity (daily chores ~:-), riding a push bike instead of driving a car and walking/running my dogs).

You can download a trial version of PASW v. 19 here, or purchase a student copy (in Australia) from The Co-Op Bookshop Online.

To become more familiar with PASW itself, I highly recommend drawing on resources readily available on the internet. I have listed a few gems below.

 Do you have a PASW or SPSS tutorial to share~

Buy Me a Coffee!


Questia: Trusted Online Research - FREE TRIAL


Variance = Differences: Statistical concepts for psychology


Image: Mind Garden Humor Page

The Non-Verbal Measure of Stress, pictured above, provides a brilliant example of difference within a species of dolphin. The degree of difference one sees in the pic indicates the degree of stress one is experiences ~:-) It is a great way to visualise the degrees of difference between participants in a sample; similar characteristics with some differences.

If the two dolphins are perceived as being too different from one another, then the viewer may believe them to be from different species altogether!

Or even~ mind pop here~ to be two completely different mammals altogether!!! This would be like trying to compare two different populations~ ridiculous.

Here is a link to help you review variation

Will you share a photo of variation around your home or community?



PsychED! Academic Gym for the Psychology Undergraduate

First Online Workshop, November 15th, 2011

First Face-to-Face Workshop for Cairns locals TBA.

An 11 week online delivery of academic coaching for psychology undergrads~ PsychED! (Psychology Education)

Get a head start for 2012 or review and prep for your second, third or fourth year

11 x 2hour sessions (with 15min break) complemented by weekly email and sms upskilling activities and motivators: May include pdfs, videos, podcasts, resource links and free resources.

Let me know if ANOTHER time suits~ Or, if you area a Cairns local~ Face-to-Face group workshops are available (with free childcare)

  • Weeks 1-4…… Critical Thinking….. Reflective Learning; How You Learn; The Discipline of Psychology; Group Work; Journal Critiques; The Literature Review;

……………………………………………………Academic Writing: Essay/Reflective Essay/Research Report/Presentation

  • Weeks 5-9…… Stats 101……………. Descriptives; Hypothesis testing; Content Analysis; Basics of Research Design; Graphic Presentation of Results; Ethics in Research


  • Weeks 10-11 SPoC!………………… Statistics Poster Challenge~ Competition and prizes!!!

You do not need to to the 11 weeks all in a row either~ You can simply pick up from where you left off providing you have paid in full~ otherwise, see the single workshop choice below.

 Sign up now for AU$125  That’s less than $12 a week!

Online PsychED! workshop series

Face-to-Face PsychED! workshop series (Cairns locals, includes free childcare)

Cannot commit to 11 weeks of workshops~ that’s ok, you are able to purchase one workshop at a time (2 hours workshop + homework activities + forum) ~ contact Char to organise a time (

Single Workshop Purchase


Counselling Call Out and Resources~


This notice was in my email this morning for Counselling grads and professionals~ a great opportunity to share your experiences and insights and enable others to learn from you~

I am looking for new professionals who have just completed their first year as a paid counselor after completing their masters or doctorate degree.  I would like for you to share your first year experience with me for an upcoming ACA Counseling Today column. If you are interested in sharing your experience,  please email me at

Donjanea Fletcher Williams. Ed.S.
Licensed Professional Counselor
University of West Georgia
Student Development Center
Stephanie A. Adams, MA. LPC, has a wealth of experiences and resources for counselling students to draw on:
And Stephanie A. Adams is on Twitter: @BeginCounselor
And, one of my favorites~ Ellie Di, who draws on the writings of sci-fi author Terry Pratchet to blend her own form of informal counselling of Headology [the intuitive, tough-love art and science of helping people make themselves more awesome by using what they’ve already got; (see “what you believe is true”).
The Headologist

It’s cold.

It’s dark.

It’s kind of smelly.

You didn’t even land on something soft….Read more


Call Out for Participation: Counselling Postgrads in Practice~ Supervision Experiences Wanted

Image: Bridge Associates


Greetings! My name is Cayla Bland, MA, LCPC, LCMFT, and I am a doctoral candidate under the direction of Dr. Elisabeth Suarez at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia and my dissertation research is entitled Supervision Outcomes: Comparison of Individual, Triadic, and Group Supervision.

I am requesting your participation in this study; participants must be currently enrolled in an advanced practicum or internship course.

You will be asked to complete an online survey to enable measurement of two supervision outcomes:

  1. The supervisory working alliance
  2. Counselor self-efficacy

(NB. Links added by Char to enable further reading on the topics for those who are interested)

Comparisons will be made across individual, group and triadic models of supervision.

If you would like to participate in this study, please check the link below and fill out the 20 minute survey as instructed.

Supervision Survey

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email or the information provided below.

Thank you in advance for your participation!

Cayla Bland, MA, LCPC, LCMFT, Doctoral Candidate in Counselor Education and Supervision Regent University Virginia Beach, VA Phone: 913-971-3732 Email:


Relevance is Education~ Learning is fun when is meaningful to Life

Image: Rhodes Uni Education Quality and Relevance

Context in Ed is brought to the fore in Adam Burk’s article, Real Education is Relevant over at Cooperative Catalyst

Burk sums the key points to characterise Relevance in Ed as:

  1. Learners understanding themselves (n.b., we are all learners, tutor:mentors, TAs, ‘experts’, research-practitioners and lecturers included)
  2. Learners understanding their communities
  3. Learners understanding their environments
  4. Personal and Collective experiences developed through Purposeful and Meaningful projects
  5. Collaboration driven by passions and interests, facilitated by mentors

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people,” writes David Orr in The Earth in Mind. “But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.

How relevant is your learning at uni this week?


Peacebuilding through Arts~ Unity through diversity and the navigation of power

Dr. Adil Qureshi, Servei de Psiquiatria of Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron has given permission for his reflection to be posted here. Thank you, Adil. Peacebuilding is a critical topic in our 21st century world~ at the interpersonal, community, national and global levels.

A friend was telling me about a peacebuilding initiative that makes use of theatre to bring people from opposing sides together and begin to see each other as fellow humans rather than members of that “other” group.

One of the questions I was left with was the place of power and privilege in this sort of work. Specifically, can we effectively bridge these distances and conflicts without overtly addressing institutionally derived power and privilege?

It seems that from Allport’s contact hypothesis it is not necessary, possibly even detrimental.From other perspectives it would seem to be the opposite.

And I note that I hesitate to try to exemplify this with concrete examples, fearing that it would offend certain people. If I am a member of an oppressed group, it is all very nice to connect with someone from the dominant group at a human level, but I know that when we walk out of there we return to a social order in which the other has that power and privilege and I do not.

Any thoughts or experiences?


Colin’s Musings~ Acknowledgement

Colin S. Tonks

Got me thinking~

Always acknowledge the things you are good at and never deny yourself the recognition, just because you are unable to be successful at everything. Psychologists say in so doing you will train yourself to always know and focus on your strengths and positive traits.

Health Psychology Management Organisation Services

What are your musings about this topic?


Open Education~ Quality teaching and learning for not only psychology students, across the globe


Look what dropped into my Inbox this morning~ excitement much!!!

‘On Tuesday 1 Nov, Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO will be officiating the launch of:

…… 1.  The UNESCO Open Educational Resources Platform

…….2.  The UNESCO/COL Guidelines for OER in Higher Education

The UNESCO Open Educational Resources Platform is a first-ever, innovative online Platform offering selected UNESCO publications as open educational resources allowing our global community of stakeholders to freely use, copy, adapt, and re-share.

The OER Platform will be launched with an OER version of the UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education with shared OER adaptations from the Polytechnic of Namibia and the University of Namibia.

The UNESCO/COL Guidelines on Open Educational Resources in Higher Education outlines key issues and suggestions for integrating OER into higher education to support quality teaching and learning. The aim of this document, prepared by the Secretariat, is to encourage educational stakeholders to invest in the production, adaptation, and use of OER, and to improve the quality of curricula and teaching.

The Launch is scheduled for 6:30pm Paris time (GMT-1) and will be live-streamed in:

English – mms://

Français – mms://

Please refer to the UNESCO OER Programme site ( for more information.

We’ll be tweeting the Launch on #oerlaunch and would greatly appreciate it if you would please forward this message to all your OER colleagues, and to tweet and retweet.

Share your feedback on the concept of Open Ed in a comment below~


What I Think About Statistics in Psychology~ Poll on!


Problema~ Occupy Cairns Circle of Peoples’ Congress to consider a working group proposal to screen this movie

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