Skip to main content

Therapeutic communities and planned environments for serious offenders in English prisons

  • Barbara Rawlings and Rex Haigh

Several English prisons contain democratic therapeutic communities (TCs) for personality disordered offenders, and addiction TCs for serious substance misusers. This article describes how these are organised and comments on how they are specifically tailored and accredited for use in custodial settings. It also describes ‘psychologically informed planned environments’ (PIPEs), offender pathways for those with personality disorders and psychopathy which provide additional support for psychological treatment. It ends by explaining how ‘enabling environments’ are assessed, since these are now becoming widely adopted in prisons to reverse toxic environments – which affect staff, the prison and the outside world as well as the individual prisoner – and to counter negative learning found in custodial institutions.

Learning Objectives

• Understand the key components of treatment in democratic and addiction TCs

• Understand how TCs can operate in a custodial environment

• Appreciate the differences between a planned environment and a psychological treatment programme in a custodial environment

Hide All
Bond, N, Gemmell, L (2014) Experience of prison officers on a Lifer Psychologically Informed Planned Environment. Therapeutic Communities, 35: 8494.
College Centre for Quality Improvement (2015) Enabling Environments Standards. Royal College of Psychiatrists (
College Centre for Quality Improvement (2017) What is the Enabling Environments Award? Royal College of Psychiatrists ( Accessed 16 June 2017.
Cullen, E (1997) Can prison be a therapeutic community? The Grendon template. In Therapeutic Communities for Offenders (eds Cullen, E, Jones, L, Woodward, R): 7599. John Wiley & Sons.
Cullen, E, Mackenzie, J (2011) Dovegate: A Therapeutic Community in a Private Prison and Developments in Therapeutic Work with Personality Disordered Offenders. Waterside Press.
De Leon, G (2000) The Therapeutic Community: Theory, Model and Method. Springer Publishing.
Dolan, B, Warren, F, Norton, K (1997) Changes in borderline symptoms one year after therapeutic community treatment for severe personality disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 171: 274–9.
Haigh, R (2010) Grendon's contribution to therapeutic communities and personality disorder. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 49: 503–12.
Haigh, R, Harrison, T, Johnson, R, et al (2012) Psychologically informed environments and the “Enabling Environments” initiative. Housing, Care and Support, 15: 3442.
Haigh, R (2013) The quintessence of a therapeutic environment. International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, 34: 615.
Jacobs, M (1995) D. W. Winnicott. Sage.
Jones, M (1968) Social Psychiatry in Practice. Penguin.
Jones, L (1997) Developing models for managing treatment integrity and efficacy in a prison-based TC: the Max Glatt Centre. In Therapeutic Communities for Offenders (eds Cullen, E, Jones, L, Woodward, R): 121–57. John Wiley & Sons.
Joseph, N, Benefield, N (2012) A joint offender personality disorder pathway strategy: an outline summary. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 22: 210–7.
Kennard, D (1998) An Introduction to Therapeutic Communities. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Lees, J, Manning, N, Rawlings, B (2004) Therapeutic community research: an overview and meta-analysis. In A Culture of Enquiry: Research Evidence and the Therapeutic Community (eds Lees, J, Manning, N, Menzies, D, et al): 3654. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Livesley, WJ (2003) Practical Management of Personality Disorder. Guilford Press.
Mackenzie, J (1997) Glen Parva Therapeutic Community: an obituary. Prison Service Journal, 111: 26.
Maguire, M, Grubin, D, Losel, F, et al (2010) ‘What Works’ and the Correctional Services Accreditation Panel: taking stock from an inside perspective. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 10: 3758.
Main, T (1946) The hospital as a therapeutic institution. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 10: 6670.
Ministry of Justice (2017) Offender Management Statistics Bulletin, England and Wales: Quarterly October to December 2016. Ministry of Justice (
Newton, M (1971) Reconviction after Treatment at Grendon (Chief Psychologist's Report Series B, No. 1). Home Office, Prison Department. Reprinted (2000) in A Compilation of Grendon Research (ed Shine, John): 205–19. Grendon Underwood: HM Prison, Grendon.
Paget, S, Thorne, J, Das, A (eds) (2015) Service Standards for Therapeutic Communities: 9th Edition (CCQI196). Royal College of Psychiatrists' Centre for Quality Improvement.
Rapoport, R (1960) Community as Doctor. Tavistock Press.
Rawlings, B (1998a) The therapeutic community in the prison: problems in maintaining therapeutic integrity. Therapeutic Communities, 19: 281–94.
Rawlings, B (1998b) Research on Therapeutic Communities in Prisons: A Review of the Literature (
Rawlings, B, Yates, R (2001) Therapeutic Communities for the Treatment of Drug Users. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Stevens, A (2013) Offender Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Communities: Enabling Change the TC way. Routledge.
Turley, C, Payne, C, Webster, C (2013) Enabling Features of Psychologically Informed Planned Environments. National Offender Management Service.
Turner, K, Bolger, L (2015) The provision of PIPEs – Psychologically Informed Planned Environments. Prison Service Journal, 218: 41–6.
Yablonsky, L (1965) The Tunnel Back: Synanon. Macmillan.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 2056-4678
  • EISSN: 2056-4686
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 102 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 179 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 11th April 2018 - 25th May 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Therapeutic communities and planned environments for serious offenders in English prisons

  • Barbara Rawlings and Rex Haigh
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *