The Acorn Programme
Acorn video Acorn is a Therapeutic Community (TC) which uses Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for women with complex needs, predominantly women who meet the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder and / or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Acorn achieves empowerment through involving the women who use the service sharing responsibility for their recovery while containment is provided by staff in collaboration with them.
The Acorn Programme was the first Therapeutic Community to be accredited by the Community of Communities, part of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Centre for Quality Improvement, in 2007 and has maintained the accreditation to date.
Aims and goals of the programme
The programme is for 8–12 months and by the end of their admission the aims and goals for each woman are:
- To be able to regulate emotions.
- To have stopped all self defeating behaviours through the discovery of alternative skilful behaviours.
- To be able to form and sustain meaningful relationships.
- To be able to manage dissociative symptoms, if present.
- To have gained confidence and to be able to find purpose in life determined by themselves.
- To have gained awareness of their own identity.
- To be able to live more independently than prior to admission with less reliance on mental health services, particularly as an inpatient.
Full multidisciplinary team comprising of registered mental health nurses trained in DBT; Consultant Psychiatrist, Dietitian, Consultant Psychologist, Group Analyst, Occupational Therapist, Involvement Worker, as well as input from other professionals such as social work and sessional therapists for art and drama therapy.
- Women aged 18-70 years, predominant diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and / or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Motivation to change; willingness to engage in group programme and therapy.
- Not using illicit substances and/or alcohol, or determination to stop use prior to admission.
- Not currently detained under the Mental Health Act, or willing to work to achieve withdrawal of the section in the first two weeks of admission.
- Not in need of continued observations at point of admission.
"By living in a community it allowed me the opportunity to learn that my behaviour does affect other people. This helped me to understand that my behaviour also affects my family, something I hadn’t accepted before. Talking about it in groups with the other women on the programme and being challenged by them about my behaviour was incredibly difficult but extremely valuable, not only was I able to learn skills to manage urges to self harm but I was also able to learn why I used such patterns of behaviour. If I want to self harm now my awareness of how my family would feel helps to stop me doing it. It doesn't feel like trying to cope by harming myself is an option for me anymore." From an Ex-Acorn patient
"When I came to Acorn I was self harming several times a day, was unable to maintain any form of helpful or safe relationship with anyone and spent quite a lot of my time on acute mental health wards. I found the therapy on Acorn challenging but it allowed me to find the life I wanted. I now haven't self harmed in over 2 years and have got my eating disorder under control. I've been at college for a year and hope to go to university next year to do a course. I have hobbies that I enjoy which I choose to do, not those I feel I have to do. I also have a group of friends, something I never thought was possible for me." From an Ex-Acorn patient
Download the Acorn Programme Guide for further information.
For information about accessing treatment, please click here.
You may find the following websites useful:
Community of Communities
Association of Therapeutic Communities (ATC)