The sociotherapist is a new kind of clinician. A psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse, social worker, nursing aide, administrator, group worker, or activities therapist–he faces tasks requiring special conceptual tools and skills. Most often an active member of the staff of a psychiatric hospital organized as a therapeutic community, his analyses and interventions are oriented to the social—rather than the personality—system. This book presents both the theoretical framework and the day-to-day working of the sociotherapist.
The analysis of a small psychoanalytically oriented psychiatric hospital and a two-year log of its daily community meetings focus on the vicissitudes of intergroup relations and organizational life and illustrate the skills and knowledge required of the sociotherapist working there. The debates and struggles concerning sex, noise, the control of space and facilities, the use of drugs and alcohol, and the response to deviance and alienation, are representative of communities within psychiatric treatment centers–and ubiquitous throughout our society. Dr. Edelson's conclusions are tempered by his recognition that it is difficult to find clear-cut choices and to make lasting changes in even a simple social system. They serve as a realistic introduction to the painful value dilemmas of the therapeutic community. (798 pages)