The Therapeutic Community
The Therapeutic Community Within St Michael's
The Therapeutic Community as a demonstrable and practical entity dates back to the 1950's when Maxwell Jones and Tom Main actively promoted the idea and practice first in Scotland and then in London. These were two renegade psychiatrists attempting to bring a revolution to mental health. They made a huge impact at the time, but the practice has largely disappeared, probably because of many obstacles, disparagements and negations, as well as the depletion of their passion.
The Therapeutic community has a "natural" home within the Church. There has been an aversion of the word "therapeutic", but various expressions of the healing community have found acceptance in the Church from the central mainstream out to the fringes of the hoaxes and the frauds.
Within St Michael's since 1971 there has been a concerted attempt to unfold a Therapeutic Community that would establish a pathway of acceptance in the wider community and also within the churches and the health professions and associations.
This has been evident on several fronts;
- At the present time it is vigorously propounded as central to the pulpit ministry.
- Within Mingary it is portrayed as a steadying presence for people in trauma and tragedy, and people under constant stress.
- It is promulgated as a purposeful theme through books, music, poetry and the arts.
- It is evident in friendship circles, caring groups, the prayer tree, the trips to country places - all providing binding and bonding in a known holding environment that the participants did not have or know before.
- It is strongly portrayed in the church buildings, in -
- The existential themes of the stained glass.
- The binding cords around the metal furnishings.
- The rich gold and red of the altar fall.
- The magnificent tapestry - "The traveller greets the Tapestry".
- The tranquil gardens.
- It is promoted through (nearly all of) the programs, from meditation to Womenspace to SAGE and K-FOG, the Therapeutic Community is the energising axis.
- Others could be listed. Many are no longer active, but served a valuable purpose at the time in a given context.
- On a wider axis, the St Michael's Day ceremony, the ceremony of the Rocks, the Gold Cord, The Medallions, the colours of St Michael's are deeply interwoven into the concept and practical embodiment of the Therapeutic Community.
The St Michael's Therapeutic Community has been organically dependent on the Cairnmillar Institute, for its identity, its programs and its outreach.
What of the foresight of the pre 1971 church leaders of St Michael's who in face of direct resistance, purposely wrote the relationship with Cairnmillar into their future contract?
Is this an example of what can happen?
A Model for other churches?
A source of transitory inspiration?
A record of impact on thousands of people?
A spasm of interest and excitement for the World Church or the International Scene
|viz -||Visitors from overseas
Visits made overseas
What can be said about its significance in past time, and future prospects?
What of the future Therapeutic Community -
- In times of vast secularisation?
- In times of searching for the "Deeper things" of "Soul Health", and Soul therapy?
- In times of terror and trauma where increasing numbers of people are more sophisticated in their expectations of the therapeutic community?
- In times when the Internet brings many added possibilities, completely unforseen 30 years ago.
In several notable ways the St Michael's Therapeutic Community differs from the Jones/Main Communities. They were focussed on the rehabilitation of people who were severely mentally ill or seriously maladjusted to their society.
In St Michael's, the focus of the Therapeutic Community has been on Wellness, health and wholeness.
It has continually and persistently elaborated the central biblical themes and motifs:
- Searching for Life in all it fullness.
- Growth towards individual and contextual wholeness;
- Self -worth, acceptance, and social dignity;
- the evolution of inspiration and courage in face of tragedy, anxiety and ambiguity;
- The celebration of Life's moments, Life's Joys and the pathways of the Good, the True and the Beautiful.
- The Transforming energies of Rituals in rocks, water, light, gathering and scattering.
From the outset the St Michael's Therapeutic Community was based on the dynamic principle of PREVENTION AND GROWTH and the essential evolution of our BEST HUMANITY reflecting the possibilities of a New Way and a New Being.
This needs to be expanded to include the inner resources to cope with life's challenges and crises, and to be aware of a possible harmony and communion with the spirit of a deeper wisdom.