The Portage Therapeutic Community
By beginning a substance abuse rehabilitation program at Portage, residents become members of Portage’s therapeutic community. As such, they share their daily lives with a group of people who are experiencing similar substance abuse problems and who have undertaken to help one another overcome these difficulties.
In an environment of mutual help and peer support, the therapeutic community approach encourages residents to develop their strengths in order to confront their difficulties. Community members support each others’ efforts by providing the framework and the necessary encouragement to prepare for reintegration back into society with a commitment to maintaining a positive lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol.
Each resident’s efforts coupled with peer support are the primary elements for change in the therapeutic community, enabling residents to feel in control of their lives once again.
Portage’s therapeutic community helps residents to identify the source of their substance abuse problems through therapeutic activities. Portage helps residents acquire a number of evidence-based tools, which residents are encouraged to use throughout their program. They help residents increase self-esteem and develop a realistic perception of oneself and of others.
Residents become familiar with these tools during educational groups and community activities. In combination with the experiential learning that the Portage environment provides, these tools are incredibly effective.
As residents progress in their treatment program, they will acquire more and more competencies and strategies which they can use to deal with the challenges they face and to work towards achieving their goals. Throughout the program, residents acquire 21 competencies
which they strive to put into practice each day.
The Plan of Care
The Plan of Care is a tool to help residents address their priorities in the rehabilitation process. It deals with substance abuse, physical and mental health, personal development, social and parenting skills, interpersonal and family relations, and social reintegration among others things.
The Plan of Care is created by the residents in collaboration with their caseworkers at the beginning of their program. The process of treatment planning requires the residents to re-examine and update their goals on a regular basis.
The Portage Program has three distinct phases:
- the evaluation phase (pre-admission);
- the residential treatment phase (which may be external at some centres); and
- the social reintegration and aftercare phases.
There are six steps in the Portage Program: five in the residential phase and one in the social reintegration phase. At each step of the program resident belong to a different peer group and are expected to meet different goals. Residents proceed to the next phase once they meet the expectations of their current phase and receive the consent of their peers and their caseworker.
The days are very structured at Portage to promote active participation in the program by all residents. A hierarchical system facilitates coordination of the clinical program and community management. Supervised by the caseworkers, it is the residents who coordinate community life and manage the daily activities.