If your like I was about a year ago, you really are not sure what exactly Therapeutic Recreation is. You have heard the name and maybe pretended like you knew, but really you just did not want to sound ignorant. Well no worries anymore after you read this paper. I am going to tell you everything and anything there is to know about Therapeutic Recreation. So just sit tight, keep reading, and soon you will be able to talk like you are a Therapeutic Specialist.
Before you learn about what therapeutic recreation is you need to get a better understanding of the definition of these words.
Therapeutic refers to healing, such as a medicine or therapy that has healing or curative capability for treatment of disease or disability. It is used for both physical health and mental health, ranging from a drug or substance that is used to cure a disease to an attitude or activity that supports the healing of one’s mental or emotional health.
Recreation is an emotional condition within an individual human being that flows from a feeling of well-being and self-satisfaction. It is characterized by feelings of mastery, achievement, exhilaration, acceptance, success, personal worth, and pleasure. It reinforces a positive self-image.
Recreation is a response to aesthetic experience, achievement of personal goals, or positive feedback from others. It is independent of activity, leisure, or social acceptance. So, when you put the two of those words together the National therapeutic Recreation Society defines therapeutic recreation as “Practiced in clinical, residential, and community settings, the profession of Therapeutic Recreation uses treatment, education, and recreation services to help people with illnesses, disabilities, and other conditions to develop and use their leisure in ways that enhance their health, independence, and well-being.
” The most commonly asked question: What is Therapeutic Recreation? Well, basically therapeutic recreation is using recreation services and leisure experiences to help people with limitations make the most of their lives in a physical, mental, and social way. It can range anywhere from therapy, intervention, recreation participation, and leisure education. It is also used as a preventative measure for maintaining health and wellness in order to avoid developing disabling conditions. Therapeutic recreation services are often provided by certified Recreational Therapist.
These Recreational Therapist often have an emphasis on three major areas, which are leisure, education, and participation. Treatment is provided to rehabilitate impaired functioning from an acquired or congenital disability in order to maintain the highest quality of life and highest level of functioning for the client. Therapeutic recreation is important because it can help people of all ages and backgrounds. It can help them get well, live well, and stay well. Therapeutic Recreation helps people to help themselves, so they can enjoy life more each and every day.
Therapeutic Recreation helps more than just disabled, mental ill, and elderly patients. It can also help people who are dependant on alcohol or other drugs. Addiction treatment programs are very intense and often overwhelming for the client who is trying to gain insight into themselves and their behaviors while experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This process often consumes clients physically, emotionally and cognitively, leaving them with an overwhelming amount of information to digest and practice. The recreation therapist’s role is to create a balance in their program to increase the overall effectiveness of treatment.
There are a number of issues regarding a client’s leisure lifestyle that must be addressed during treatment. One of the first things the therapist needs to address is the client’s perception of leisure. What are the core values and beliefs regarding leisure? Did the family of origin value leisure? Most clients will have little motivation towards healthy leisure because they had no use for it when they were active in their addiction. In their eyes, leisure activities are of little value because they don’t provide the immediate gratification that was met through addictive behavior.
It is the therapist’s duty to challenge these perceptions and help clients in their journey to discover meaningful leisure. “Finding leisure” is an experiential process that involves experimenting with a number of different recreational activities to determine which ones meet a client’s needs. The therapist must introduce clients to healthy leisure choices in a structured, non-threatening environment. Clients should be encouraged to take risks and try something they have never done before. The result is almost always positive. After all, success, failure, likes and dislikes are all a part of personal growth and discovery.
An activity inventory is a useful tool to compare current levels of participation to past levels of participation. Normally there is a significant decline in leisure interest and participation when the addiction increases in severity. The activity inventory can reveal important treatment issues regarding balance and variety of activities, and the number of interests that were abandoned during active addiction. In order to facilitate the client’s understanding of why healthy leisure decreased during their addiction, it is beneficial for them to look at their motivation for engaging in addictive behavior.
When clients are asked why they engaged in this behavior, the most common responses are: 1. To relieve tension and pain (emotional & physical). 2. To escape from reality. 3. To be more sociable and outgoing. 4. To increase sense of power and control – feel stronger and more confident. 5. To increase ability to cope with the problems and stresses of everyday life. 6. To create a positive mood – get happy, have fun. 7. To gain a sense of belonging. 8. To relieve boredom. If you look closely at this list you will see that these are all needs that can be met and benefits that can be derived from healthy leisure.
This process helps clients realize that the benefits of using are the same benefits of leisure so that they can begin to see how healthy activities can help them cope with these issues. It is easier for addicts to give up the rewards from their addiction when they know they can get gratification from healthy activities. The next step is to give clients the opportunity to experience these benefits first hand. The addict must now replace using with a balance of healthy activities which may involve learning a whole new set of skills and behaviors.
Clients often surprise themselves by succeeding at something they did not think they could do. When this happens they experience an increase in pride, self-esteem, and self-worth while doing an activity that creates a positive mood, relieves boredom and provides a sense of belonging to a group. Experimenting with different leisure activities in treatment provides an opportunity for clients to feel at ease with others and feel comfortable with themselves. For an addict who was never allowed to laugh and be silly as a child, it is important to emphasize that this kind of behavior is appropriate during leisure time.
In fact it is necessary in order to get in touch with the inner child. The therapist must be aware that solitary activities are not recommended for addicts in treatment. Addicts spent a great deal of time in isolation during addiction and for many clients; isolation is an unhealthy way of escaping from the problems of life. There are more benefits to group activities that provide clients with an opportunity to connect with others. For example, a scheduled fitness walk that is incorporated into treatment on a daily basis as a group activity acts as a deterrent for isolation.
In addition to recreation activities, clients must also be introduced to coping skills like stress management and relaxation training. These are skills that can be used in conjunction with leisure or on their own. Addicts need to be taught how to achieve a state of relaxation and deal with stress appropriately because these needs were previously met in unhealthy ways with a “quick fix”. Different groups within Alcoholics Anonymous have organized sober events such as dances, hockey teams, camp-outs and even cruises. Making the choice to socialize and engage in activities with sober people will create a safe environment that promotes recovery.
Another common question asked which is even one that I asked after learning as much as I just told you is, how does it help? Well, programs and services are designed with the individuals so that they can meet their needs. Therapeutic recreation specialist work with a team of professionals to conduct an assessment, set goals, design a written plan, and evaluate progress. Along with all this Therapeutic Recreation improves physical abilities, builds confidence, promotes greater self-reliance, enriches the quality of life, reduces stress, strengthens interpersonal skills and eases fear.
If you are like me you are probably sitting here thinking maybe you should be going to a see a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist yourself. Other ways I found that therapeutic recreation can be helpful are the following: accept responsibility, learn by doing, set goals, express feelings, act assertively, learn new approaches, develop new interests and use leisure well. All these criteria can basically describe anyone in America. But, just because you fit the description does not mean you need help. People with these cases have a very severe case of what they have.
People who get nervous when approached by doctors or just nervous being in a hospital setting often ask the question of who their doctor is or what does he do. The members of a client treatment team can seem like you are working with a whole football team. A client treatment team can consist of physicians, nurses, psychologist, physical therapists, occupational therapist, vocational counselors, speech-language pathologist, social workers, prosthetics, and orthotists. Now, that’s a big group of highly skilled professionals that you have no other choice but to feel safe in front of.
For those of you who think they need to see a therapeutic recreation specialist you can find them in many different settings. Services maybe be available in or through hospitals, rehabilitation centers, summer camps, nursing homes, centers for independent living, sheltered workshops, community mental health centers, public and private schools, adult day care centers, psychiatric facilities, outpatient clinics, youth and adult correctional facilities, group homes, senior centers, home health care agencies, substance abuse facilities, community recreation and park departments, halfway houses, and vocational training centers.
Now I bet you all want to go out and be a therapeutic recreation specialist. Helping people is a natural feel good feeling. There is no better way to make yourself feel good than to help someone you know needs it. That’s why therapeutic recreation specialist do what they do. I hope you have a better understanding now about what therapeutic recreation is. Maybe you will go out and watch or observe one work. I promise to you it will make you feel better inside.