Milieu Therapy: Recover In A Safe And Structured Surrounding

Last Update on August 10, 2022 : Published on August 15, 2022

Psychologists have developed thousands of therapy types, but I bet milieu therapy is different from all other therapies. Wondering why?

Well, milieu therapy is different and unique therapy because it treats mental health issues by taking the assistance of people’s surroundings. This helps in encouraging healthy ways of behaving and thinking.

In this blog, I have covered a complete overview of milieu therapy. So, let’s get started with the basics first…

What is Milieu Therapy?

Milieu therapy is a safe and structured treatment method for resolving mental health issues. It is based on using daily activities and a resilient environment for helping people interact in a healthy way. It is one of the most flexible therapy types which is based on working in a group.

Milieu is a French word that means middle. This therapy was introduced a century ago and it is still evolving. The primary method of milieu therapy will always be consistent which means providing a safe and structured environment to people so that they can interact in a healthy way and receive therapy more effectively. Milieu therapy takes place in a residential setting which is full-time.

Principles and Working of Milieu Therapy


Since milieu therapy is based in a full-time residential setting, you will need to interact with people who conduct every activity according to the schedule. In this way, you will be able to establish proper treatment goals. Not only this, but this also enhances decision-making skills.

The treatment style is based in such a way that people eventually learn positive and healthy ways to respond and behave. The timeline of the therapy is based on the severity of mental health issues. But, the major goal of this therapy is to return to the original world within a specific period.

Below-mentioned are the guiding principles of milieu therapy:

1. Providing a safe and structured environment

Milieu therapy focuses on providing a structured environment that is based on open communication, routines, and boundaries. This setting helps in building trust among peers. Additionally, it also helps in completing goals. In such a setting, therapists use reliable and predictable responses which help the clients communicate openly in a more positive manner.

2. Establishing interdisciplinary treatment within teams

In most milieu therapy-based programs, clients receive complete care from healthcare professionals. This helps in establishing interdisciplinary treatment. This helps the clients in seeking benefits from different perspectives and skill settings. It also helps in fostering a good learning environment.

3. Enhancing mutual respect

The most powerful principle of milieu therapy is the mutual respect approach. This program is based on a principle that makes people understand that everyone deserves respect. The therapist creates a supportive and caring environment that helps people openly talk about their experiences.

4. Providing responsibilities to individuals

In this therapy, every individual is owned to take responsibility and this is based on a shared-authority approach which allows clients to develop a great sense of responsibility and agency.

5. Grabbing activities in the form of opportunities

Clients perform daily responsibilities which contribute to healthy functioning. Additionally, people can also choose the work or activities that they like to do. This results in a great sense of productivity and comfortability.

6. Providing therapy in the form of peer communication

Understanding group dynamics is the major approach to milieu therapy. This strategy helps in shaping positive behavior. When people work and interact with other people, opportunities naturally arise and it helps in learning new positive ways to cope.

Uses of Milieu Therapy


Milieu therapy is basically performed for treating behavioral and psychological issues. Sometimes, such facilities can also act as addiction rehabilitation centres. It can also be used for treating behavior disorders.

Research says that milieu therapy can be used for creating therapeutic foundations for treating eating disorders as such settings allow the individuals to learn new healthy skills which also helps in developing feelings of hope and trust. Moreover, it can also be used for reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia as it increases the power of relaxation.

Benefits of Milieu Therapy

Benefits of milieu therapy are:

  • Provides an emotionally and physically safe environment
  • Helps people to take responsibility fortheir actions and behavior
  • Clients get real-time feedback which enhances the peer communication
  • Real-time opportunity to learn new healthy and positive coping skills
  • Converts negative behavior into safe and positive behavior
  • Reinstates a sense of security
  • Provides a supportive environment

Effectiveness of Milieu Therapy

The percentage of success related to milieu therapy totally varies. Research shows that when exercise was incorporated into a group, patients showed concrete and clear benefits which helped them in building new habits. Talking about effectiveness, milieu therapy has some limitations too.

Some research shows that for people struggling with mental health issues a lack of support was a major disadvantage of this therapy. Additionally, adapting to such a major change in environment can be very challenging.

I hope this blog helps you with a complete overview of milieu therapy. Comment down and share your views on the same. For more such content, connect with us on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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