Developing a standard for youth modified therapeutic communities

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the applicability of the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) Standard to Australian youth-specific modified therapeutic communities (MTCs). An Interpretive Guide for Youth MTCs and Residential Rehabilitation (RR) Services was developed and a pilot trial conducted with three Australian youth MTC services. Design/methodology/approach - Using a mixed-methods design, this study included three components: a consultation process with residential youth MTCs (N=15), which informed the development of the ATCA Standard Interpretive Guide for Youth MTCs and RR Services; a pilot trial of the materials with three Australian youth MTCs (N=53); and an evaluation of the interpretive guide and assessment of applicability of the ATCA standard to youth MTCs through pre- (N=32) and post- (N=19) pilot trial administrations of the Survey of Essential Elements Questionnaires (SEEQ), and post-pilot trial focus groups (N=21). Findings - Results indicate that the ATCA Standard is applicable to youth MTC settings when applied with the Interpretive Guide, although no significant differences were found between the pre- and post-pilot trial administrations of the SEEQ. Practical implications - Future research is recommended to explore active mechanisms of youth-specific MTCs, differences between adults and youth MTCs, and the development of TC-specific training. Originality/value - To date, no standard for youth residential substance use services in Australia has been developed, and this is the first study of its kind internationally to explore the efficacy of standards in a youth MTC.




Northam, J. C., & Magor-Blatch, L. (2016). Developing a standard for youth modified therapeutic communities. Therapeutic Communities, 37(3), 140–148.

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