The Spirit of Gheel, Inc. is a private, non-profit residential psychiatric therapeutic community located in Kimberton, Pennsylvania approximately 30 miles west of Philadelphia. Our two residential facilities, Gheel House and Buttonwood Farm, are within walking distance of each other and are located in a rural setting of Chester County surrounded by woodlands, hiking trails, trout streams, horse farms and working farms.
Our therapeutic community was founded in 1984 by followers of the Rudolph Steiner humanitarian philosophy to assist adults who struggle with the debilitating effects of serious and persistent mental illness. The community has no religious affiliation or orientation.
The Spirit of Gheel takes its name from the city of Geel, Belgium which has been providing compassionate care for the seriously mentally ill in the community for over 700 years. The essence of our community reflects this commitment to providing a safe, caring environment in which individuals can recognize and utilize their unique strengths in the service of achieving greater emotional and behavioral stability.
In our therapeutic community there is an ongoing effort to identify and build upon the personal strengths of each resident. This is central to our philosophy as we believe that a predominant focus on pathology, or what is not working, is counterproductive to promoting the sense of security and trust necessary for individuals struggling with serious mental illness to “risk” practicing new ways of thinking and acting. In this regard, we believe that is essential to provide a safe and nurturant environment within which the residents can find their uniquely individual paths toward wellness and recovery.
Our residents are referred to as “friends” and are accorded the respect and level of freedom that an unlocked personal care facility provides. Each “friend” has his/her own private room with the understanding that we all need personal space. It is our belief that those living with issues of serious mental illness often have greater needs for personal space which affords them the opportunity to feel safe from the outside world. We believe that the availability of private rooms of sufficient size, furnished to the personal tastes of each resident, is an important component of our therapeutic environment in combination with the serene, rural setting in which our environment is situated.
Additionally, we believe that a healthy diet which is nutritionally balanced and attuned to the personal well being of each “friend” is important. The “friends” actively participate in weekly menu planning and are encouraged to participate in the preparation of at least one evening meal per week. There are always menu options for those who are vegetarian or who may require a special diet for health reasons.
The importance of regular exercise and exposure to the outdoors is stressed through a variety of exercise programs and nature walks led by our staff. In addition, we offer a weekly Yoga program and have full access to the facilities of a local YMCA.
In addition to our residential facilities, we also offer a Transitional Living Program for residents who are capable of living independently in the community with supportive care available through The Spirit of Gheel’s Case Management system. The level of case management services and involvement in the residential Gheel programming is “menu” driven and determined by individual need.