Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Milieu therapy: 'raising' good citizens

Milieu therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves the use of therapeutic communities. Clients join a group of 30 or so people for between 9 and 18 months and during their stay they are encouraged to take responsibility for themselves and others within the unit. It is thought to be useful in treating personality and behaviour disorders and is widely used in Scandinavia. A team of Norwegian researchers looked at how milieu therapy worked in one such unit in Norway. They found that in ways the unit was similar to a traditional nuclear family. The clients were often seen as 'harmed children' and were taught self-management skills. The staff aimed to provide a caring atmosphere while the clients sometimes seemed to behave in a child-like manner. In a sense the milieu was 'raising' the clients to transform their 'odd' behaviour and 'nonconforming' lifestyles and produce 'self-governing' individuals.

Oeye, Christine ... [et al] - Raising adults as children? A report on milieu therapy in a psychiatric ward in Norway Issues in Mental Health Nursing 30(3), 151-158

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