16th Conference of EFTC

16th Conference of the European Federation of Therapeutic Communities: Pathways of care to recovery

Albert Sabatel

Albert Sabatel, winner of the ‘Eric Broekaert Award’ in front of Dianova’s poster

The European Federation of Therapeutic Communities (EFTC) is a network of communities throughout Europe. The EFTC is dedicated to exchanging knowledge, promoting research and providing more visibility for best practices in the field of addiction treatment and prevention.

Organized by the Coolmine therapeutic community, the Irish Department of Health and EFTC, the 16th European Federation of Theraputic Communities Conference was held in Dublin on 20, 21 and 22 September. Three main areas were addressed by speakers:

Gender, Women and Families

As one speaker, Ms. Naya Arbiter, pointed out, the therapeutic community (TC) treatment model has evolved mainly through the engagement of African-American women who at that time had become advocates of the project’s community framework and sustainability, and had ensured that the TC’s physical environment could reinforce the emotional climate. Today’s TC leadership requires a female leadership equal to men’s, so as to bring about a culture of inclusiveness both within the TCs and in the communities where they are implemented. In the same vein, various speakers have emphasized the specific role played by women in their interventions in prisons, as well as the need to address harm reduction from a gender perspective.

Treatment in prison and other secure environments

Gilberto Gerra (left) and Michele BellasichSpeakers have repeatedly mentioned the need to adapt objectives to the environment where the intervention takes place. In this respect, Mr. George de Leon said that an appropriate and adapted objective in the prison environment could be to better prepare and motivate individuals for change. In addition, Mr. Gilberto Gerra emphasized the importance of psycho personal biography in substance use. As he put it, “Adverse childhood, neglect, ocial deprivation, exclusion and poverty increase the vulnerability of new generations to drug abuse.” »

Mental health, well-being and intellectual disabilities

The cognitive-intellectual aspects that hinder rehabilitation were an important part of the following analysis. Speakers highlighted the need to take into account the complexity of each individual’s profile to address this multifaceted issue, and that of relying on science-based approaches and methodologies. George de Leon said that more research is needed to identify people’s needs and design long-term programs tailored to these changing needs and new challenges, such as the comorbidity issue.

#ListenFirst Campaign


Dianova International’s representative, Mr. Michele Bellasich, presented the global outcomes and impact of the #ListenFirst campaign and a detailed poster was displayed in the conference hall throughout the event.

Initially, the ListenFirst campaign was launched on the International Day against Drug Abuse, June 26, in partnership with UNODC. The presentation was meant to expose some of the best practices developed in the fields of education, prevention and health promotion, as well as to explain the relevance of advocacy activities and international cooperation in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.