February is National Recreational Therapy Month. To celebrate, the Believe Blog is introducing you to one of Magee’s newest recreational therapists, Kirsten Chase.
Believe Blog (BB): How would you describe your job to someone that doesn’t know anything about Recreational Therapy?
Kirsten Chase (KC): Recreational therapy, also known as Therapeutic Recreation, is much more than recreation and play. It is a treatment service that utilizes leisure-based activities to improve and enhance an individual’s quality of life. Recreational therapy can be practiced in variety of settings with different diagnoses, including physical disabilities, mental illnesses, brain injuries, and with individuals with developmental delays and older adults. Recreational therapists promote the connection and importance between health and recreation to strengthen physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being. From an inpatient rehab perspective, recreational therapists also work with the treatment team to develop and practice the necessary skills for community reintegration and participation.
BB: Why did you decide to become a Recreational Therapist?
KC: Prior to attending college at Temple University, I had never heard of Recreational Therapy. I always had an interest in working with individuals with disabilities but was unsure which path to choose. After speaking with a peer who was enrolled in Therapeutic Recreation courses and frequently volunteered in the Philadelphia community, I applied for a volunteer position under a recreational therapist. For an entire semester, I continued to volunteer and fell in love with helping individuals participate in activities they once enjoyed prior to their disability. I was convinced this was the correct avenue for me!
BB: What is the most exciting part of your job?
KC: The most exciting part of my job is helping individuals find new or adaptive ways to participate in a fulfilling life through leisure. Discovering activities or developing a leisure style is how people can truly reconnect socially with family and friends. I enjoy the challenge of continuously thinking outside the box and love to get creative with ways to focus on individuals’ abilities and strengths to encourage participation.
BB: Do you have a particular experience or patient that has made a strong impact on you?
KC: The patients that have made an impact on me the most are the ones that continue to have a positive outlook on life through the face of adversity. These individuals found ways to positively endure and persist through one of life’s greatest challenges thrown their way. These individuals focused on the improvements they made each day, no matter how small they were, and encouraged those around them to do so as well. This type of mindset shows possibilities are endless and so is the potential for a greater quality of life.
To learn more about Recreational Therapy at Magee, click here.