February is International Recreational Therapy Month. If you’ve never heard of Rec Therapy (or Therapeutic Recreation), to put it plainly, a recreational therapist uses activities people enjoy participating in to help them get better. Rec Therapy is a brilliantly simple concept. Doesn’t it make sense that people should enjoy the therapy they need to help them get better and feel happy? Rec therapy uses recreation and 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.
Rec Therapy may sound like all fun and games – and it is fun! – but there’s a lot more to it. Here are some FAQ’s about TR.
What do Rec Therapists do?
A recreational therapist utilizes a wide range of activity and community based interventions and techniques to improve the physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and leisure needs of their clients. Recreational therapists assist clients to develop skills, knowledge, and behaviors for daily living and community involvement. The therapist works with the client and their family to incorporate specific interests and community resources into therapy to achieve optimal outcomes that transfer to their real life situation.
Why is Rec Therapy important?
Research supports the concept that people with active, satisfying lifestyles will be happier and healthier. Rec Therapy provides services which are based on the individuals’ interests and lifestyle and allows them to better engage in therapy and apply these functional improvements to all areas of their life. Ultimately, it allows them to generalize their therapeutic outcomes to their life after the healthcare team is no longer involved resulting in greater health maintenance over time. Rec Therapy aims to improve an individual’s functioning and keep them as active, healthy, and independent as possible in their chosen life pursuits.
How is Rec Therapy different from other therapies?
Rec Therapy embraces a definition of “health” which includes not only the absence of “illness,” but extends to enhancement of physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and leisure development so individuals may participate fully and independently in chosen life pursuits. The unique feature of Rec Therapy that makes it different from other therapies is the use of recreational modalities in the designed intervention strategies. Rec Therapy is extremely individualized to each person by his or her past, present, and future interests and lifestyle. The rec therapist has a unique perspective regarding the social, cognitive, physical, and leisure needs of the patient. Incorporating client’s interests, and the client’s family and/or community makes the therapy process meaningful and relevant. Rec therapists weave the concept of healthy living into treatment to ensure not only improved functioning, but also to enhance independence and successful involvement in all aspects of life.
What are the outcomes of Rec Therapy?
Current research indicates a significant number of positive health outcomes resulting from participation in RT/TR programs, including physical, psychological, and cognitive improvements as well as increased engagement in recreation and community activities.
What are a Rec Therapist’s education, qualifications and credentials?
A qualified recreational therapist is someone who is nationally certified as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS). Qualified professionals are certified through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), which requires a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university, a formal internship, and the passing of a national certification examination. A CTRS must maintain their credential every five years through the NCTRC recertification process. Academic programs in Therapeutic Recreation or Recreational Therapy emphasize course work in the physical, biological, and behavioral sciences and recreation and leisure theory.
Where is Rec Therapy headed in the future?
According to the US Department of Labor, “The rapidly growing number of older adults is expected to spur job growth for recreational therapy professionals and paraprofessionals in assisted-living facilities, adult daycare programs, and other social assistance agencies. Continued growth also is expected in community residential care facilities, as was daycare programs for individuals with disabilities.”
To learn more about Therapeutic Recreation at Magee, click here.