Many of you ask “what is Recreational Therapy?”
The following was taken from the American Therapeutic Recreation Association’s website and will answer many of your questions:
Recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, 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.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RECREATIONAL THERAPY AND THERAPEUTIC RECREATION?
- Therapeutic Recreation is the field
- Recreational Therapy is the practice
- Recreational Therapists are the practitioners
- The CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) is the qualified provider
WHAT DO RECREATIONAL 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. RT/TR 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. RT/TR aims to improve an individual’s functioning and keep them as active, healthy and independent as possible in their chosen life pursuits.
WHAT CLIENTS DO RECREATIONAL THERAPISTS SERVE?
Recreational Therapists may work with a wide range of individuals requiring health services including geriatric, mental health, addictions, general medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, developmental disabilities and pediatric clients.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND RECREATIONAL THERAPISTS WORKING?
Most recreational therapists are employed by health care agencies and work in traditional inpatient hospitals or health facilities but an increasing number are being hired in residential facilities, community mental health centers, adult day care programs, substance abuse centers, hospice care, community centers, and in school systems. There is a growing trend for recreational therapists to work in private practice providing services in the home and community as well.
HOW IS RECREATIONAL THERAPY SERVICES DIFFERENT FROM OTHER THERAPIES?
RT/TR 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 RT/TR that makes it different from other therapies is the use of recreational modalities in the designed intervention strategies. RT/TR is extremely individualized to each person by his or her past, present and future interests and lifestyle. The recreational 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. Recreational 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.
HOW ARE RECREATIONAL THERAPY SERVICES RECOGNIZED?
Recreational 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 (ATRA 2009). Recreational therapists are standard treatment team members in rehabilitation services. Recreational Therapy is listed as a rehabilitation therapy service in the Joint Commission (JC) standards. In addition, recreational therapists are designated as treatment team members (based upon need) in the acute brain injury, the post-acute brain injury, and the inpatient rehabilitation standards of the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) includes recreational therapy in the mix of treatment and rehabilitation services used to determine federal compliance in skilled nursing, rehabilitation (physical and psychiatric) and long-term care facilities. Therapeutic Recreation is specifically indicated as a Related Service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A few states regulate this profession through licensure, certification, registration, or regulation of titles.
WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES OF REC THERAPY?
Current research indicates a significant number of positive health outcomes resulting from participation in RT/TR programs:
- Improvement in Physical Health Status
- Improvement in Psychosocial Status
- Improvement in Cognitive Status
- Improvement in Life, Recreation & Community Activities
WHAT ARE A RECREATIONAL THERAPIST’S EDUCATION, QUALIFICATIONS, & CREDENTIALS?
A qualified recreational therapist is someone who is nationally certified as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), usually referred to as Recreational Therapists. 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.
In Utah, we have to be licensed by the state department of professional licensing, just like a dentist, psychologist, or any other health profession, to practice as a Rec Therapist.