The Arbours runs two residential Therapeutic Communities where people in emotional, psychological and social difficulties can live in a supportive therapeutic environment.
All of the houses are situated in quiet residential areas of north London. They are comfortably furnished and can accommodate up to eight residents in single rooms with communal rooms shared by everyone. When possible we try to ensure an even balance between male and female residents and we attempt to provide as wide a range and diversity of cultural and ethnic backgrounds as possible.
- aims and objectives
- referral criteria & assessment procedures
- user participation
- community support & therapy programme
- staff support
- practical support
- families and partners
- moving on and after-care
Aims and Objectives
We aim to maintain a nurturing, non-institutional, home-like atmosphere where respect for the freedom and unique potential of each individual is honoured. We see it as our task to help residents face and work on the difficulties that may be impeding their growth, and to motivate them in the direction of achieving a more satisfying way of life so that they can live as viable members of society.
The umbrella of therapeutic and practical support provided by Arbours fosters a climate that provides the necessary freedom for residents to find their own identity and take responsibility for their lives. Our long-term aim is for each resident to overcome his or her emotional and psychological dependency and to gain a more independent way of living.
Referral Criteria and Assessment Procedures
Referrals to the communities may come from individuals, psychiatrists, GPs, social workers, psychologists, and psychotherapists, and from statutory and voluntary agencies.
Each potential resident has an interview with an experienced psychotherapist who assesses the applicant’s psychological and emotional needs, and suitability as a community resident. This also provides an opportunity for the potential resident to raise any questions they may have and to get information about the communities.
The next stages in the assessment procedure are interviews with each of the house co-ordinators and an informal meeting with the present residents. If all goes well, the potential resident is invited to spend a weekend in the community. The whole procedure usually takes from four to six weeks.
User participation is a vital component of our therapeutic approach. We expect each person to contribute to the running of the house, and to help with cooking, cleaning, shopping, financial management and maintenance, as well as with choosing new members and with attending on-going discussions of house policies.
Community Support and Therapy Programme
Throughout their stay in the communities, residents are required to attend:
- The twice-weekly group meetings, which are led by the house co-ordinators, where the residents can explore and clarify both personal and inter-personal issues. The group may also offer an experience of belonging that is often lacking in individuals who have been isolated by their problems.
- Two individual psychotherapy sessions a week with a trained and experienced psychotherapist where residents can explore the meaning of their problems and difficulties in a trusting one-to-one relationship.
- Art and movement therapy groups (one of each a week) where residents can explore their experiences and feelings in a medium other than words: through painting, drawing, sculpture and movement.
In addition the residents are living in a therapeutic milieu in which they can learn, with the support of the co-ordinators, the community facilitators and their peers, to take responsibility for themselves and others and to learn relational, social and domestic skills. Any difficulties experienced in meeting these responsibilities can be discussed in the regular house meetings.
Our experience shows that it takes time for a person’s psychological repertoire to unfold. Therapeutic programmes cannot, therefore, be static. Residents’ progress is assessed on an ongoing basis, and changes may be made at any time to meet their needs. In addition, formal internal reviews of residents’ needs and progress take place approximately every six months.
The Communities provide outings and day activities and residents are encouraged to explore and create links with the outside community, working towards eventually making use of courses and other activities.
Arbours has always been concerned about the alienating aspects of “staff-patient” relationships often found in institutional settings. In order to counter-balance such alienation we have developed a careful programme of staff support that has proved to be both therapeutic and effective. During the past over thirty years, our experience has been that this supportive therapeutic programme had made it easier for residents to resolve their difficulties.
Two co-ordinators, both experienced psychotherapists, have overall practical and therapeutic responsibility for each house. They are on call for advice and support and lead house meetings in each house every week. Residents see their own individual psychotherapists twice a week and attend art and movement therapy groups once weekly.
In addition to the above, we have established a policy of having in each house, residential community facilitators who share living in the community. In addition, our trainee psychotherapists and volunteers do visiting placements.
The Arbours office provides assistance with DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) and Local Authority payments, and advice about rights, training courses and any other issues throughout the resident’s stay.
The office staff visit the communities regularly to impart useful information and to offer practical help, particularly with problems related to social security and with maximising income. The office staff are also available to try to provide help with move-on accommodation and any other practical issues.
Families and Partners
The families, partners and other individuals in the resident’s social network may be in need of emotional psychological support. Where appropriate, we are able to see residents with their partners or family. It may, however, be more therapeutic for families and partners to receive individual psychotherapy, which we can provide directly by means of a referral.
Moving On and After Care
When moving-on is indicated, appropriate support is provided and residents are able to discuss their anxieties and practical difficulties of moving on with the house co-ordinators and in the house meetings. Residents are encouraged to take courses, to train and to find employment before leaving the community.
Please contact the main office to ask for a breakdown of costs for any of the two communities.