An analysis of the Daytop therapeutic community using Maria Harris's koinonia curriculum: Implications for the religious education of youth

Francisco (Sebastian) P. Bacatan, Fordham University


The dissertation presents a study of the Daytop therapeutic community from the perspective of religious education, particularly from the standpoint of Maria Harris’s (1981, 1989) koinonia curriculum. It is an examination of therapeutic community concepts, theoretical underpinnings, ideologies, philosophies, and values from the framework of koinonia’s six central curricular tasks, namely: presence, receptivity, responsibility, leadership, inclusion, and outreach (Harris, 1989). The central inquiry of the dissertation is whether Daytop’s therapeutic community approach, a drug-treatment program, has something to offer religious educators. It proposes that the Daytop therapeutic community, as koinonia, offers religious educators a reasonable approach in dealing with troubled youth. For young people who do not fall into the category of the “troubled,” it serves to confirm and strengthen positive traits of character. The Daytop therapeutic community affirms the fundamental values common to all religions, but particularly to the Christian faith. It stands as a model for the holistic and multidimensional religious educational approach in addressing the needs of the whole person. The Daytop community is a paradigm for a comprehensive ministry that incorporates partnership with families, schools, and other community forces in a common effort to promote a healthy and caring environment for the young. It offers the Church a pattern for building small communities of young people through caring peer relationships which facilitate change and growth through honesty, responsible concern, and responsibility. Daytop recognizes the necessity of being in touch with one’s vulnerability, one’s “woundedness,” and this provides religious educators with a framework for ministering more effectively to wounded young people. In critiquing the process of religious education of youth, significant elements of the Daytop therapeutic community, especially its koinonia curriculum, should be considered. The journey of fashioning and refashioning young peoples’ lives remains the crowning moment of the community effort. The Daytop therapeutic community is in many ways a koinonia where the “wounded” are healed through the embrace of an agape and caring community.

Subject Area

Religious education|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Bacatan, Francisco (Sebastian) P., "An analysis of the Daytop therapeutic community using Maria Harris's koinonia curriculum: Implications for the religious education of youth" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3299112.