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What is a therapeutic community?

Our houses are places in which people who find themselves subject to disabling mental and emotional stress live together, attending to the ways in which their difficulties become manifest in everyday living. Group living can be difficult, but it is our experience hat it can be explored in such a way that leads to increased insight and freedom through therapeutic work and ordinary conversation.

What do we offer?

We offer a unique environment, in which you can live honestly with people who have experienced difficulties themselves and can therefore accept you for who you are. Each community has from three to five group meetings a week with the house therapists, and some financial support for individual therapy. The therapists do no live on site.

Individuals have their own room, in a family house, with an open invitation to make themselves at home.

Who comes to our houses?

Our houses are open to adults of all ages, though most residents are between 20 and 45. People come to us with a variety of "diagnosis" Ú- but a personís history is much less important than their desire to change their lives and to try to make sense of what has led to their troubles. In particular, we are interested in an individualís capacity to work towards acknowledging and taking responsibility for the way they contribute to the difficulties they experience with others.

Our houses are not easy places to live Ė residents have described them as "intense", "full on," and "hot houses for conflict" Ė and usually people do no decide to take the step of living in them lightly. They are, according to one resident, "challenging places in which you begin to see a different reality than you are used to."

Individuals with a current addiction to drugs or alcohol, or a history of violence, are not usually suitable.

Length of stay

There is no fixed length of stay in the communities. Most people stay for several years. In practice, it is not usually worth applying for a stay of several months.


At present, we have three houses, each with its own ethos and therapeutic team.

Individuals eligible for housing benefit can afford all our houses. The Philadelphia Association can sometimes subsidise the cost of a residentís stay if the resident is working or on a student grant.

How to I get in?

Prospective residents are invited to phone (or write) the individual communities directly to ask to attend a meeting.

Each house has one meeting a week open to visitors. Through attending these meetings over a period of time, the applicant will get to know the ways of the individual house and the people in it. Similarly, the members of the community will get to know the applicant. This process usually lasts a number of weeks before a decision can be made.

There are no application forms, professional reports, or individual interviews required. Applicants are expected to call on their own behalf.

The decision about who will be accepted into the community is made by the members - residents and therapists Ė at a meeting not attended by the visitor.

About the PA

The Philadelphia Association was founded in 1965 by R. D. Laing and colleagues. Its members, who included psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, and artists, were critical of the way the "mentally ill" were treated in institutional settings. They favoured the setting up of therapeutic community households. The first was started when the association was founded.

To apply, contact:

Maida Vale house:
161 Shirland Road, London W9 2EP
020 72866447

Finsbury Park hous:
1 the Grove, London N4 4HJ
020 7272 0749

Islington house:
46 Freegrove Road, London N7 9RQ
020 7609 7192

Itís recommended you apply to just one house at a time.



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