Milieu Therapy


A scientific structuring of the environment in order to effect behavioral changes and to improve the psychological health and functioning of the individual (Skinner, 1979).

The goal of milieu therapy is to manipulate the environment so that all aspects of the Children/Young People’s experience are considered therapeutic.   Within this therapeutic setting the young person is expected to learn adaptive coping, interaction and relationship skills that can be generalised to other aspects of his or her life.

Principles of milieu therapy

  • Promote a fundamental respect for individuals (both Children/Young People/Adolescents  and the care staff).
  • Use opportunities for communication between Children/Young People and staff for maximum therapeutic benefit.
  • Encourage Children/Young People to act at a level equal to their ability and to enhance their self esteem( autonomy is reinforced)
  • Promote socialisation.
  • Provide opportunities for Children/Young People to be part of unit management.
  • Individuals are held responsible for own actions.
  • Peer pressure is utilised to reinforce rules and regulations.
  • Team approach is used.

Group discussions and temporary seclusions are favoured approaches for acting out behaviour.