Fellow List Members
I forwarded part of the thread about a back-to-basics style TC movement to Leonard Jason. As you will know, Jason and colleagues have been researching the Oxford House movement for some time and it occurred to me that they might have interesting perspectives to offer. They do!! See below the reply from Ron Harvey.
One of my grad students named Ron Harvey ([log in to unmask]) drafted this response and hope it is useful. Both Ron and I are happy to have more dialogue with you on this matter.
I am a 5th year graduate student with Leonard Jason as my advisor. My research are on Oxford Houses in the U.S., but I am mostly interested in looking at the OH model in other cultural contexts. I spent my 3rd year of graduate studies in Bulgaria to assess the needs and feasibility for creating OHs in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe. I hope to continue this work post-graduation.
This discussion on the fate of the TC philosophy in (Western) Europe is very interesting to me. I'd really like to become involved in the discussion on preparing a theme for the Prague 2013 conference. I am at your service.
I think it is important to know where OHs could possibly fit into a EU context. As you may know, OHs are a self-run, self-financed system that facilitates self-paced recovery from addictions while also providing housing with an unlimited length of stay. This allows residents to self-pace themselves for re-integration into mainstream social systems while immersed in a communal housing environment with recovering peers that is both supportive and structured. In this sense, OHs are perhaps best conceptualized on a continuum between TCs and self-help groups. OH has many features in common with a professionally staffed, recovery focused, but limited stay residential TC, and self-help groups may (or may not) be available to support abstinence while living in mainstream, civil society with family and (perhaps using) peers.
DePaul's OH research suggests that living in an OH environment incorporate many the same processes that occur self-help groups and TCs, as in Dr. Kerr's Ten Competency's of a TC: mutual help, mutual monitoring, social support, social learning from peers, behavioral economic principles, group participation, and accountability. The key difference is that, like AA/NA groups, OHs can and do fail to administer, finance, and sustain themselves, and opening new OHs often requires focused attention until they become stable.
The discussion about "a return to TC principles" does echo somewhat themes of the OH movement. The choices and competencies of the OH movement are codified in the nine OH "Traditions", which are based to a large extent on the AA/NA Twleve Traditions (See: http://www.oxfordhousenc.org/Traditions.htm). Like AA, OHs choose to be non-professional and self-financing. Obviously, there are benefits (cost-effectiveness, no need for specialized recovery training of licensure, independence, self-governance) as well as hazards (resident instability, lack of a State safety net, dependent on local community for support). If there are lessons to be learned from the OH experience that informs (Western) Europe's TC system in terms of cost-effectiveness, they need to be weighed against the benefits and hazards.
However, it is important to keep in mind that limitations can also be beneficial. The founders of AA, in retrospect, thought that being forced into financial self-sufficiency and non-professionalism actually benefitted the society in the long-run. The great lesson from the OH and self-help and TC experiences are that scarce resources spawn creative thinking, e.g. recovering people are a powerful source of wisdom and resources in concert with professionals in the TC system, and can be highly effective. We certainly have had to be creative with our ideas for OH in Bulgaria because a lot of the structures and resources are not available as in the U.S.
Of course, I would never advocate "giving up all that official funding" as a path of reform. However, if limited resources stirs up some creative thinking to modify existing systems or to create/introduce new ones, something exciting might happen.
From: Rowdy Yates [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2012 5:14 AM
To: Jason, Leonard
Subject: FW: Back to Basic - A New TC Movement?
You may remember that some time ago, I reviewed your book on Oxford House for the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities. At that time I think we had some brief correspondence. You probably do not know that I also manage a very active therapeutic communities discussion list for the European Federation of Therapeutic Communities (EFTC). Here in Europe (as in the USA) the TC movement continues to be under threat and is looking for new ways to both preserve the services we currently provide and to establish new ways of applying TC principles to the recovery agenda. The thread below is part of a discussion on the list about campaigning to save a TC called Phoenix Haga in Norway. However, the thread also sparked a discussion about a return to earlier TC principles and practices and it occurred to me that this paralleled, to some extent the Oxford House movement. I recognise that you are extremely busy but I would really appreciate your views on this matter. We are currently working towards establishing the programme for our 2013 EFTC conference in Prague and it might be a theme we could explore there with your help.
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