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A safe community: Milieu therapy and how it works

A safe community: Milieu therapy and how it works

A safe community: Milieu therapy and how it works 2560 1217 The Solstice Team

Milieu is a French word that refers to the social environment of the individual. Milieu therapy is a type of treatment that involves changing this environment in the hope that it will encourage a student to develop new coping strategies. This treatment will usually involve a long-term residential stay within a therapeutic community but it can involve adapting the home life to create a more supportive environment. The aim is to create the right environment where change can take place. This approach has been used for over a century in the treatment of psychiatric disorders and other behavioral problems.

What is Milieu Therapy?

Milieu therapy is based on the theory that the individual can rely on their own inner strengths to change undesirable behaviors. Autonomy and personal responsibility is a key element, but there is also the assumption that social interactions can benefit the individual.

Peer pressure is seen as a powerful force that can compel people to adapt to the environment. The impact of peer pressure can be increased through regular feedback sessions within the group. 

How Milieu Therapy Works

Milieu therapy works by manipulating the environment in order to benefit the client. This can involve living within a community where life is structured. The interaction of those in the group is important because positive change occurs due to these encounters with one another. Students are able to provide constructive feedback to one another, and work to solve problems together. The main role of the therapist is to focus on facilitating and observing.

In this type of therapy, the client is expected to take responsibility for their own welfare as well as the welfare of others in the group. The individual learns to develop relationship skills as well as improve their adaptive coping strategies. There will usually be agreed upon rules and expectations the group will work together to enforce. The goal is that everything within the client’s environment should be therapeutic.

Milieu Therapy Provides a Safe Community

A safe community is one where the student is able to develop and learn. The pressures of living in the outside world may mean that the individual finds it difficult to cope. This inability to deal with life can make it harder for positive change to occur. In Milieu treatment programming, the environment stressors will be kept to a minimum and efforts ill be made to eliminate those conditions that can trigger negative reactions from the individual. This removal of threats to the client creates the ideal therapeutic environment. Treatment in this controlled environment will give the student the opportunity to learn new coping mechanisms so that they will be able to better deal with the outside world. There is also a focus on predictability in routine so that the client can develop trust, and further increase the sense of being in a safe environment.

The Benefits of Milieu Therapy

Milieu therapy can produce a number of benefits for students who take part in this type of program.

  • The individual learns to take responsibility for their own behavior and the behavior of others in the group
  • The environment feels safe to the client and this makes it easier for them to share their problems and be open about themselves
  • Regular feedback from others in the group allows the student to see how their behavior impacts the community
  • During their time in such a therapeutic community, the individual will be taught new coping strategies that will make life easier to deal with back in the real world

If you feel this type of treatment would be a good fit for your child, call 866-278-3345 to learn more about Solstice. Solstice is a residential treatment center that has many years of expertise and looks forward to helping you and your family today.