Social Therapy, The Fellowship, Youth Guidance

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By: Wanda Root

Social Therapy is the name given, many years after the fact, to the work of the 'village impulse', i.e., those anthroposophical village communities living and working with adults in need of special care. It is certainly historically a derivative of the curative educational work, inspired by Steiner's Curative Education, and especially as elaborated in Camphill by Dr. Karl Koenig. Although it is one of the youngest of the practical activities inspired by Anthroposophy, it has spread across the globe with facilities in more than 50 countries. There are more social therapeutic communities than any other work arising out of the Medical Section.

What are the requirements of a social therapy setting? Does it necessarily involve adults with developmental disabilities? Who is a social therapist? Who is not in need of social therapy in our time?

Social therapy always requires a setting in which the attempt is made to understand and uphold the true image of mankind and to help unfold the dignity of each human being. It always implies life-sharing—sharing home and hearth, joys and sorrows, work, celebration and cultural and spiritual striving. It always involves the therapy of responsibility, of empowerment—recognizing the unique contribution that each individual has to make to the community. Social Therapy is based on the ideals of mutual help, interdependence, co-responsibility. The striving to understand and meet individual needs leads to social forms that create a healthy, holistic atmosphere for all who live there. Through all of the above, one could say that social therapy is an attempt to bring healing through community building.

Good social therapists must have a real interest in their fellow human beings. They need to be on a path of self-observation and self- knowledge and look at their own development as essential for the well-being and development of others, and of the whole.

Places of Social Therapy are places that strive to create a way of life based on the insights and ideals of Anthroposophy. They offer the experience of social integration; they foster a sense of belonging, a feeling of inclusion. They attempt to overcome the social alienation and social estrangement of our time. They encourage the striving to live, not for oneself, but for others. The daily attempt to experience the divinity in everyone who wears a human countenance helps to build up a social substance of insight and understanding.

At present, most social therapeutic communities live and work with adults with developmental disabilities. These communities welcome scores of young people as volunteers, most of whom have the profound experience of just how healing the environment can be. However, there area few social therapeutic projects working with drug addicts, with old people, with refugees of war. In Great Britain, an Anthroposophical Medical Practice can prescribe "Social Therapy," sending the patient next door to a Camphill townhouse to help and therefore be helped. Social Therapy is still in its infancy.

Wanda Root bas been involved in a series of international retreats and conferences on Social Therapy. She lives and works in Camphill Village Copake, New York. For more information call (518) 329 1591.

The Fellowship
The Rudolf Steiner Fellowship Foundation is a long-term care community of all ages, founded in 1966. It serves Hill Top House, the central care facility. Those who live in Hill Top receive minimal to extensive round-the-clock care which is permitted by dint of two laws passed by the New York State Legislature (1985 and 1996). These support not only elder care but the working of the whole community as an on-going social/therapeutic program.

Fellowship has eight major work areas besides the care facility: a biodynamic farm, a candle shop, a cafe and product sales shop, a medical-therapeutic practice, a printshop (Mercury Press), a pottery, a weavery and woodworking/metal shops. A rich, varied cultural-spiritual life is woven into the community with festivals, art programs, lectures and trips. There is much work (play for the child) and social interaction, allowing for growth and human unfolding.

From the outset an administrative process was developed to help birth social forms and a free spiritual life while respecting the laws of the land. The impulse of the Threefold Social Order, given by Rudolf Steiner, is central to this effort, engaging all ages in the economic workings while taking up human care in a new and responsible fashion.

Call 845-356-8494 or fax 845-356-8468.

Youth Guidance

Youth Guidance takes the threads that have been woven into the life of the developing child and carries them forward into the early stages of adulthood (ages 18-25). Through continued learning, through the search for each person's true vocation, development of peer relationships and competencies for living, learning and working, the young adult can be accompanied to a mature sense of self and world.

For more information call Gregg Davis, (610) 469-0933, Fax (610) 469-1054.



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