Therapeutic community culture and the Free Child


The Gouldings developed a method of group psychotherapy known as the marathon. This is a therapeutic experience where the members of the therapy group would live together for a period of time and are all part of a therapy group. This could last for one weekend or one week.

This structure allows for the development of a therapeutic community. That is were the group members form a community where the main task was group therapy. When people enter individual therapy of course there is no therapeutic community. Those who enter a group therapy that is once a week for say 3 hours a day there is the development of a therapeutic community but only at a very rudimentary level.

The sense of a therapeutic community can really only develop if a group of people can be together for an extended period of time in some form of therapy. Hence we have one of the principle advantages of the marathon style of group therapy. The experience of the therapeutic community is felt strongly by the group members. A therapeutic community is seen to have some potent therapeutic effects for a number of reasons.

In the marathon style of therapy a group of people, clients and therapists, live together for a period of time. They live together in the same establishment, eat together, socialise together and get to know one another at a quite deep level. They see each other open up about their early lives, the feelings they have, the intimate and inner thoughts they have all this whilst living together for at least a number of days. The sense of a therapeutic community is actively created. This is creating an environment that is ripe for personal change.

However the Goulding style of redecision therapy also fosters the expression and development of the Free Child ego state. People are in a therapeutic community where they and all others are encouraged to express and experience the Free Child. This tends to have a snowball effect as people express their Free Child that encourages others to and when they do, that also encourages others to. One often ends up with a community of people who are expressing and relating to others in ways that is rarely done. An unusually high level of Free Child is involved in the relating of a group of people over a number of days.

When that happens group members are especially psychologically prepared to experiment with new ways of behaving, feeling and relating. They are especially prepared for psychological change.

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2 Responses to “Therapeutic community culture and the Free Child”

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  1. maksuda begum says:

    Tony u have wanderfully explained about the new ways of behaving,feeling & relating in a different context.I think that is the gift of group therapy.Group members strengths can becomes one member’s free child strength.

    • Tony White says:

      I agree Maksuda, If the group culture is accepting of the Free Child that encourages others to experiment with their own and new script free ways of relating and feeling

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