Saving My Life: Dynamics of Peer and Staff Corrections Among Therapeutic Community Residents
Background: Therapeutic communities (TCs) maintain order and encourage behavior change through a system of peer corrections. This study is the first quantitative analysis of the dynamics of the exchange of peer corrections at TCs. Objectives: We applied longitudinal social network analysis to compare the reactions of TC residents to peer versus staff intervention, while analyzing dynamics of correction exchange among residents. Method: The data consisted of a large database of staff and peer affirmations and corrections at four therapeutic community units that occurred between the years 2006 and 2008. We modeled the data as a directed temporal social event network, using a generalized linear mixed effects model to analyze predictors of corrections among residents. Results: Residents were more likely to send a correction following peer affirmations and corrections than following staff affirmations and corrections. Residents reciprocated corrections to individual peers. Autocorrelation was evident in both sending and receiving corrections and residents were more likely to send a correction after having sent an affirmation. Residents who arrived at roughly the same time were more likely to exchange corrections. Residents tended to send and receive more corrections in the middle 3 months of their treatment. European American residents and those with higher scores on the LSI-R were more likely to receive corrections than others. Conclusions: TC residents respond more strongly and more positively to peer than to staff intervention. The pattern of exchange of peer corrections in TCs is complex. This suggests possible paths to improved outcomes.