Group-apartments for recovery of people with psychosis in Italy: democratic therapeutic communities in post-modern social communities

Journal article citation:
Therapeutic Communities: the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, 37(4), 2016, pp.213-226.

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present a model of democratic therapeutic community (DTC) for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and psychotic disorder, namely the Group-Apartment (GA). The authors will describe it in more detail, discussing the ideas which lie behind it, considering the relative cost of treating people in larger residential DTCs and in GAs, outlining findings from the first data gathered on a GA and looking at the usefulness of this model in post-modern societies, with particular reference to Sicily. Design/methodology/approach: In brief a GA is a flat, located in an urban apartment building, inhabited by a small group of people. In this paper the authors consider an apartment inhabited by a group of three or four patients with the presence of clinical social workers who work in shifts for several hours a day on all or most days of the week (Barone et al., 2009, 2010). GA is also inspired by the pioneering work of Pullen (1999, 2003), in the UK tradition of the apartment post TC for psychosis. Findings: GAs in Italy have become one of the main methods of support housing in recovery-oriented treatment, because it allows the empowerment of the users and fights against the stigma of mental illness (Barone et al., 2014; Bruschetta et al., 2014). The main therapeutic activities provided in the GA depend on the type of recovery route being supported, on the level of autonomy being developed and on the level of participation in the democratic life of the local community. Originality/value: GAs appear better, cheaper and a more appropriate treatment for mental problems in the current financial and social climate than larger institutions. Where they have been tried out, they have been found to be effective, by users and by stakeholders. They exemplify the advantages of the DTC for encouraging recovery, but cost less to run. In accordance with DTC principles, the social democratic process is used not only to evaluate the clinical effectiveness of GAs, but also to build a network to support the development of innovative mental health services and new enabling environments (Haigh et al., 2012). (Publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
therapeutic communities, groups, supported housing, schizophrenia, mental health problems, recovery, models;
Content type:
practice example
Journal home page
ISSN print:
0964 1866

Key to icons

  • Free resource Free resource
  • Journal article Journal article
  • Book Book
  • Digital media Digital media
  • Journal Journal

Give us your feedback

Social Care Online continues to be developed in response to user feedback.

Contact us with your comments and for any problems using the website.

Sign up/login for more

Register/login to access resource links, advanced search and email alerts