Integrative Community Therapy (ICT) is a social technique for dialogue and the conduction of self-help groups. Its wisdom lies in the sharing of helpful life experiences among participants as a resource for coping with difficult life situations. Four simple rules and a few principles guide the process, which usually consists of two parts. During the first part, which lasts around 90 minutes, there is neither discussion nor advice, but respectful listening to the other’s suffering and its acceptance without judgement. There is no need to find consensus or to agree on anything, and the group is not looking for solutions of someone’s problems. But everyone can take home whatever useful strategy comes up during the exchange.
ICT was developed by Brazilian psychiatrist, anthropologist and theologian Prof. Dr. Adalberto Barreto over a period of more than 30 years. It is scientifically proven that it has a preventive effect on physical and mental health, wellbeing and social cohesion. Today, in Brasil, it is part of the public health system with around 40’000 moderators trained. Currently, there are ICT groups in 28 countries on three continents.
“Nobody is so rich that he wouldn’t need anything, and nobody is so poor that he couldn’t give anything.”
The goals of ICT include strengthening of personal autonomy, horizontal communication, social inclusion and respect for diversity. Sessions are conducted regularly, and participation is always free of charge. In continuous sessions, an atmosphere of confidence and compassion is created, in which participants experience on multiple sensory levels that they are not alone with their worries and that there are different ways of acting and being. The underlying idea is that pain and suffering often contain hidden „pearls“ and the potential of a higher future self.
During each ICT session, one topic is chosen for further elaboration among the topics brought up by participants themselves. The clear structure provides a space of confidence and proximity in which a feeling of connectedness and self-impact can emerge. Participants are free to either participate actively or just attend as silent witnesses – both has its value. ICT can be applied to open or closed groups in various contexts including community centres, schools, prisons, and with various target groups including general public, youth, parents of children with disability, elderly etc.
“Who only looks at the finger, does not see the star to which it points.”