As defined by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, recreational therapy is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being.
Further, "Recreational Therapy” means a treatment service designed to restore, remediate and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities, to promote health and wellness as well as reduce or eliminate the activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by an illness or disabling condition.
"Putting the FUN into Functional"
This quote was a mantra at Central Michigan University's Therapeutic Recreation program, and few other quotes capture the beauty of Recreation Therapy better. Recreation Therapy (RT) is a broad therapeutic modality, in which our interventions are often leisure based. This sounds unacademic, but just as a small child learns rules, proprioceptive awareness, and more from playing, we can all learn new skills, retrain our bodies and brains, and practice important life skills through enjoyable activities. Sometimes we need to get back on the golf green in order to see if our shoulder exercises have been working, or return to our favorite coffee shop to practice social skills, or dedicate time and space for the meditative practices of art. A skilled Recreation Therapist finds the activity that is enjoyable for the client, while also aides our client in achieving their goals.
It's more than just fun and games...but fun and games are really important.
The cognitive processes at work while engaging in a card, board, or sports game are endless. Synapses in our brain are firing, and every time we try something new, we help our brain grow and stay healthy. So why not do fun things while keeping our brain healthy? Even better, why not have the win-win experience of knowing the activities we already enjoy are helping us grow and get better, maybe with a slight change of focus and/or modifications? As a recreation therapist, that's one of the best moments of our day: helping someone achieve something they want to do, and seeing them grow and learn from the activity as well.
Almost any activity can become therapeutic, when the right challenge, skill, and support combine to create a learning opportunity; and a skilled recreation therapist is just the person specializing in finding that healthy, but enjoyable, sweet spot.
One important feature of Recreation Therapy is assisting our clients with attending enjoyable activities in the community. It sounds simple, but physical, cognitive and emotional barriers block many people from accessing community events, arenas, or venues. A trained Recreation Therapist can assist a client with organizational or planning difficulties, working through social anxiety, physical barriers to the community, and so much more - and what's a better practice field than the "real world."
We can practice social skills and interactions in a controlled environment, but we have to practice them in the unpredictable world we eventually need them in. Community Integration brings people back into life, with supportive, structured assistance by a trained professional. Community Integration goals can be physical (ex. navigate a bus system or wheel-chair lift without assist), emotional (ex. participate in community setting for set period of time without anxious behaviors), or cognitive (ex. create and stick with budget while grocery shopping; or initiate with three peers in community setting without assist), to name a few. As a recreation therapist, we believe the true measure of success it being able to engage in the desired activity of choice with as little assist as possible, and we want to bring our clients into those environments to assure their success, and grow along the way.
If you of someone you know could benefit from personalized, therapeutic, meaningful activities to learn or relearn skills, overcome physical or cognitive barriers, or just generally want to bring more purposeful activity into their lives, contact Samm today for a FREE consultation. Private pay rates are calculated by need and hours per week agreed to, with free one-hour consultation and assessment. Contact Samm to schedule your assessment now.