RECREATIONAL THERAPIST: An Occupation With Leisure! Check it Out!

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  Success as a therapist is not found in doing something for the client, but rather in being someone for the client.  

WHAT IS RECREATIONAL THERAPY?

According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA), recreational therapy or therapeutic recreation (TR) is a systematic process that utilizes recreation (leisure) and other activities as 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. Recreational therapy may also be simply referred to as recreation therapy, in short, it is the utilization and enhancement of leisure.

The work of recreational therapists differ from other professionals on the basis of using leisure activities alone to meet well-being goals, they work with clients to enhance motor, social and cognitive functioning, build confidence, develop coping skills, and integrate skills learned in treatment settings into community settings. Intervention areas vary widely and are based upon the enjoyable and rewarding interests of the client. Examples of intervention modalities include creative arts (e.g., crafts, music, dance, drama, among others), games, sports like adventure programming, exercises like dance/movement, and skill enhancement activities (Motor, locomotion, sensory, cognition, communication, and behavior).

HOW ARE RECREATION THERAPY SERVICES DIFFERENT FROM OTHER THERAPIES?

Recreation 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 the individual may participate fully and independently in chosen life pursuits. The unique feature of recreation therapy that makes it different from other therapies is the use of recreational modalities in the designed intervention strategies. Although many of the treatment goals that a recreation therapist may work towards are similar to other disciplines on the rehabilitation team, the way the recreation therapist achieves those goals is what distinguishes this unique service. Incorporating the client?s interest and the client?s family and/or community makes the therapy process meaningful and relevant. Recreation Therapy is extremely individualized to each person, their past, present and future interests and lifestyle. The recreation therapist has a unique perspective regarding the social, cognitive, and physical and leisure needs of the client. Recreation 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.

Recreation Therapists Have Assessed Competency In:

  • Foundations of professional practice
  • Recreation and leisure services
  • Individualized patient/client assessment
  • Planning treatment interventions
  • Implementing treatment interventions
  • Evaluating treatment/programs
  • Managing recreational therapy practice
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Human growth and development (lifecycle)
  • Psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Disabling conditions
  • Counseling
  • Kinesiology
  • Cognitive and educational psychology
  • Group dynamics and leadership
  • First aid and safety
  • Pharmacology
  • Health care organization and delivery
  • Legal aspects of health care

WHAT IS THE JOB OF A RECREATIONAL THERAPIST?

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. These therapists use a variety of modalities, including arts and crafts; drama, music, and dance; sports and games; aquatics; and community outings to help maintain or improve a patient's physical, social, and emotional well-being.

Duties of Recreational Therapists

Recreational therapists typically do the following:

  • Assess patients' needs using observation, medical records, tests, and discussions with other healthcare professionals, patients' families, and patients
  • Develop treatment plans and programs that meet patients' needs and interests
  • Plan and implement interventions to support the client in meeting his or her goals
  • Engage patients in therapeutic activities, such as exercise, games, and community outings
  • Help patients learn social skills needed to become or remain independent
  • Teach patients about ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Document and analyze a patient's progress
  • Evaluate interventions for effectiveness

Recreational therapists help people reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic physical and mental abilities; build confidence, and socialize effectively.

They use interventions, such as arts and crafts, dance, or sports, to help their patients. For example, a recreational therapist can help a patient who is paralyzed on one side of his or her body by teaching patients to adapt activities, such as casting a fishing rod or swinging a golf club, by using his or her functional side.

Therapists often treat specific groups of patients, such as children with cancer. Therapists may use activities such as kayaking or a ropes course to teach patients to stay active and to form social relationships.

Recreational therapists help people with disabilities integrate into the community by teaching them how to use community resources and recreational activities. For example, therapists may teach a patient who uses a wheelchair on how to use public transportation.

Therapists may also provide interventions for patients who need help developing social and coping skills. For example, a therapist may use a therapy dog to help patients manage their depression or anxiety. Therapists may work with physicians or surgeons, registered nurses, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, teachers, or occupational therapists. Recreational therapists are different from recreation workers, who organize recreational activities primarily for enjoyment.

WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A RECREATIONAL THERAPIST?

To become a recreational therapist you typically need a bachelor?s degree in recreational therapy, leisure studies, psychology, or a related field, although the educational requirements may vary by employer.

Employers may prefer to hire graduates that have a degree in a field related to recreation therapy that involved internship or practicum experience.

Coursework that is applicable to a career as a recreation therapist includes human anatomy, assessment, medical and psychiatric terminology, characteristics of illnesses and disabilities, and the use of assistive devices and technology.

A qualified recreation therapist is one 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 640-hour internship and the passing of national certification. In addition, a CTRS must maintain their credential every five years through the NCTRC recertification process.

WHAT IS THE SKILL SET NEEDED TO BE A RECREATIONAL THERAPIST?

  • Enjoy working with people from a variety of backgrounds
  • An interest in helping others to cope with anxiety, depression or build confidence
  • Able to work independently and as part of a team
  • Able to foster partnerships and personal relationships
  • Enjoy developing and participating in innovative programs
  • Compassion for the challenges of others
  • Able to use good judgment in a variety of situations
  • Must be trustworthy
  • Have a caring and compassionate personality

TOP INSTITUTES TO THE RESPECTIVE STUDY:

Indira Gandhi Institute of Paramedical Sciences, Amethi (Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar)

IIMT Medical College and Hospital, Agra

Vananchal Institute of Health Education and Research, Garhwa

CMJ University : Institute of Allied Health Sciences, Ri-Bhoi

Christian Medical College, Vellore

Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bangalore

King Georges Medical University, Lucknow

Batra Nursing College, Bhopal

Om Sai Para Medical College, Ambala

Goa Medical College and Hospital, North Goa

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