From Day Program to Working Community

Posted on July 26, 2011

Julius Lanoil
Wellness and Education Consultant, Fountain House

The dining room at Fountain House ca. 1962The dining room at Fountain House ca. 1962Fountain House is the name of a private nonprofit organization that started over sixty years ago to help men and woman released from psychiatric hospitals readjust to community life. The Fountain House treatment model is called the “Working Community,” a method developed as a direct result of the Fountain House experience.
Although the basic theory and underlying beliefs of the Fountain House program have not changed over the years, the nom de plume, like hair and clothing fashion, has.
 
From 1948 - 1968 Fountain House was called a day program. From 1968 – 1972, a number of day programs that espoused different methods but shared the goal of community integration for men and woman released from psychiatric hospitals started meeting to share experiences and information. Fountain House in NYC, Horizon House in Philadelphia, Hill House in Cleveland, Thresholds in Chicago, Fellowship House in Florida, Portals in Los Angles, and Forward House in Montreal were all included. These meetings formed the basis of IAPSRS (International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services), and Fountain House became known as a psychosocial program.
 
A little later, when the Community Mental Health Centers Act began to include partial hospitalization and other services for discharged psychiatric clients and IAPSRS became USPRA (United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association), the Fountain House program changed its designation again, becoming known as a psychiatric rehabilitation program.
 
In 1977 as a result of the replication efforts at Fountain House, the term Clubhouse Model began to gain parlance. In the ten years that followed, hundreds of Clubhouses were developed in the United States and around the world. These Clubhouses followed a model that was developed at Fountain House and was reflected by the International Standards, a series of declarative statements written in 1981 to guide new programs and to protect the rights of their memberships.
 
A new organization was formed to help develop programs that followed the Fountain House approach. The International Center for Clubhouse Development (ICCD) continues to develop, train and certify Clubhouse programs.
 
These standards, actualized by Fountain House and all other certified Clubhouses, are comprehensive in terms of member rights and organizational structure, but they say very little about treatment modalities or the therapeutic role of staff. As such, we felt that a book describing the role of community as treatment and the therapeutic role of staff in that community would be helpful to those interested in the work. All of this was undertaken and well described in a soon-to-be published book by Alan Doyle, Kenneth Dudek and me.
 
The book is a description of the Fountain House model which could differ in practice from other programs calling themselves clubhouses. The authors felt that their writing should reflect the Fountain House program, in particular, not the clubhouse movement in general. Hence, Working Community became the new and current description of the Fountain House program model.
 

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