The programs of NYTC enable substance-abusing adults within the criminal justice system to embrace a positive and productive lifestyle upon their return to society. The therapeutic community (TC) model does this through disciplined peer self-help groups that thoroughly challenge an individual’s attitudes, behavior and self-awareness. Each client thus embarks upon a personal journey that allows him or her to mature as a responsible adult and experience the creative possibilities of her or his own life.Each person becomes a part of a disciplined community, with individual responsibilities, peer accountability, and a daily schedule. Strict rules govern behavior, with an emphasis on developing awareness as to the consequences of one’s actions. The structure of the TC is designed to bring into the open those behaviors, attitudes, and emotions which lie at the root of all addictive lifestyles, so that they may be effectively addressed. Each manifestation of negativity or positive activity becomes a learning opportunity for the person concerned, as well as for his or her peers. This whole process is facilitated by trained staff, often themselves former substance abusers in recovery, who serve as rational authorities, counselors and role models for the clients as they struggle with their own issues.
The individual moves through a series of phases as they respond to the program and become more self-aware and mature in how they respond to life’s uncertainties and disappointments. Those in the in-prison Stay'n Out programs usually move into a community-based program like Serendipity when they are paroled, thus easing their transition back into society. Those who have moved out of the Serendipity program for approximately six months attend aftercare group sessions, designed to support them as they adjust to living normal lives again.
All NYTC programs thus deal with the whole person. Practical issues such as vocational training, parenting skills, living with HIV or AIDS, and family reconciliation are addressed as needed, so that clients can learn to live productively with the particular circumstances of their lives. This approach works to transform the victim self-image of most substance abusers into one of confidence, hope, and creativity.