Sociotherapy is yet mainly a matter of practise. There is an overwhelming practical experience in sociotherapy, but theory is underdeveloped and professional training is failing until now. Sociotherapists have to focus on their own working area: the life-group and the institution as social life-system. In this approach the (small) lifegroup and the hospital as social (life)system are central issues. Four lifegroupfunctions can be distinguished:
- Lifegroup as pure residence;
- Lifegroup as hotel;
- Lifegroup as treatmentgroup;
- Lifegroup as place where patients learn to get about with themselves and the others in daily life.
The last two sorts of lifegroups can be seen as sociotherapeutic lifegroups, because of the therapeutical intentions in working with these groups. The lifegroup is basis of treatment and has its own treatment-goals as well. Development of sociotherapy is threatened by many problems, of which some are structural, as relative underpayment, bad career-prospects. A few specific problems are:
- Sociotherapy is round-the-clock-treatment, what asks a great flexibility of each other relieving sociotherapist and therefore a very complicated manner of collaboration;
- Sociotherapists are often in a bufferposition between patients and nonsociotherapeutic staff;
- Desintegration of the staff in closed disciplines;
- Stiffling institutional bureaucracy.
The psychiatrist can be seen as the professional 'tuner' of therapy as a whole. He is able to help patients (and sociotherapists) to translate therapy in allday- life-language.