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Towards a Communication Strategy for the Therapeutic Community Open Forum

Strategy Overview

This Strategy outlines the action required to promote The Therapeutic Community Open Forum (TC-OF) as a major asset to people involved in therapeutic communities, and other social learning ventures worldwide.

About TC-OF

TC-OF was created on December 1st 2004 as an open group for anyone interested in Therapeutic Community worldwide. It is the successor to the ATC list created by Chris Evans on July 26, 1996. Whilst created for and under the auspices of the British-based but international Association of Therapeutic Communities (ATC), the Planned Environment Therapy Trust (PETT), the Community of Communities (CoC) and the Charterhouse Group of Therapeutic Communities (CHG), it is not restricted to members of those organisations and actively encourages worldwide membership.

Challenge Statement

Therapeutic Communities (TCs) are in the main isolated from mainstream services, often under funded, undervalued and hence often marginalised. Some staff or professionals within TCs are under trained and some are undisciplined. Others are gifted visionaries and/or highly professional with much to offer. Few however are prepared for the political context in which they survive. Different philosophies underline the history of TCs with major differences emerging adding to the undervaluation. In recent years with the concentration on standards some TCs are becoming more viable and accepted. The majority of research of worth underline the effectiveness of TCs but these are not readily available to those who core fund TCs or fund placements within TCs. Despite the presence of the Association of Therapeutic Communities the quality of networking and alerts between them is at a very low level. They have little or no way of communicating concerns, best practice and experience.

TC-OF has only 110 members many inherited from the old list and for a few including ex-residents and carers it has been a lifeline. As an email group it has quite a few international members outside of the UK. Some of these have been pioneers who have retained an interest into retirement and others are current pioneers and students. Very few of the TCs in the UK are members. The technical support of TC-OF is handled by volunteers and is reliant on their skills. The current technology is Yahoo Groups and this has been augmented by a web site with extensions www.tc-of.net but there are current developments to open a Media-wiki site, a bulletin board and an email list with an integrated database.

Apart from word of mouth, email and personal contacts there has been no attempt to promote the existence or development of TC-OF. This is underlined by the lack of a clear statement as to the remit, purpose and development potential of TC-OF. Recent developments such as the Moderators Group have surfaced the need to promote and develop TC-OF.

What could TC-OF be?

  • A network of therapeutic communities and social learning projects worldwide
  • An educational resource for those involved.
  • A history resource
  • A supportive network for those using the services
  • A supportive network for carers and supporters of those using the services.
  • A staff support network to share ideas, experiences and practical solutions that worked or not
  • An event sharing resource.
  • A repository for online research
  • An information database of TC and Social Learning Projects
  • An information database for those seeking placements
  • Links to other important research, informational or educational resources
  • A second opinion for those involved
  • All of the above? And More?

Can it be done?

Clearly such a development in a short timescale would take more resources than currently available.

However if we took small steps towards achieving some of the objectives arising from the vision outlined above then true progress could be made.

A lot of work is currently available and could be merged into such a vision.

Also if it is set up under the self help principle as in Wiki with the full co-operation of other agencies, then the burden could shift over time.

Different people could be obvious leads for different aspects of the development and we could appoint moderators/ enablers with project responsibilities to report back to the Moderators Group.

Issues and Principles

There will be important issues and principles to discuss such as

  • Defining membership only areas as well as open areas
  • The level of anonymity permissible in membership areas
  • Group confidentiality in membership areas.
  • Cyberlibel and the role of moderators
  • The rules of group chats.
  • Dealing with members who abuse the service.
  • How it all is resourced?
  • And a whole lot more.

Setting our objectives. Breaking it all down into manageable chunks.

This is the art of making it doable.

  • We must first decide on our objectives.
  • Once the objectives are agreed then the more detailed work to achieve the objectives can be filled out and be monitored.
  • The order of the objectives below is roughly sequential although some parallel actions are also possible.
  • The objectives below are an attempt to flesh out some of the tasks and priorities within the suggested objectives.


Getting the technology to work and be useful.

    • Establishing commitment of Leads to maintaining the service.
    • Identify continuing resources required and source,
    • Transfer current Wiki, BBS and email group to new host.
    • Common database of members.
    • Decide on issues of confidentiality and anonymity.
    • Archive old posts on yahoo.
    • Simultaneous, seamless transition to new software.
    • Close down yahoo group.
    • Review role of www.tc-of .net and its transfer to Wiki web pages.
    • MF/IM
    • £200 p.a.
    • Now before March


Finalise the roles of Moderators and Others

    • Establish Moderators and Others management tasks
    • Establish Lead responsibilities and roles
      • Suggested roles include: Project Leader, Relevant project leads for objectives, Moderators and Technical back up
    • All Moderators
    • Time of Volunteers
    • Now


Increase the content of the Wiki site.

    • Agree TC-OF.net transfers to Wiki, Transfer as much as possible. Establish what can not **transfer and whether critical.
    • Invite academic and other submissions for Wiki.
    • Ensure Wiki is managed.
    • Build base of research links of direct relevance to TCs especially efficacy.
    • Build information base on TCs, placements and costs that can be managed by the TCs themselves.
    • Establish code of practice about the Wiki site and Structure
    • CF/DB/IM/Others
    • Time of volunteers
    • February-June 2006


Increasing membership

    • Contacting organisers of specific groups, establishments and educational establishments within the field in order to promote TC-OF (Is that the right name?) as a valuable resource and ask for a named person (email address) to be a contact point and/or member. We may need to focus on defined groups in order to establish a high level of hits, with a structured approach involving informal contact, follow up, then more formal contact e.g. letter if no email contact and then telephone chasers.
    • Suggested first tranche is all the known UK TCs. Monitor response
    • KH/IM/CF/DWH/Sarah Paget
    • Time of volunteers
    • May-September 2006
Personal tools
radioTC international
what else is here?