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Therapeutic Recreation

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Therapeutic recreation involves the provision of both Treatment Services and Recreation Services to people suffering from illness and those who have conditions that are disabling. The primary purposes of such treatment and therapy are to remediate, restore or rehabilitate so as to improve independence and functioning and as well as eliminate or reduce the effects of the disability or illness. It provides recreational opportunity and resources that aim at improving the well being and health of the patients. Recreation therapist are trained and certified. They must also be registered and certified in order to practice therapeutic recreation. By using education treatment and recreation services, therapeutic recreation helps persons with disabilities, illness and other medical conditions to use and develop the activities they do for leisure to improve their functional abilities, independence, health and the quality of lives they live.

            This specialized area in the recreation field focuses mainly on providing either leisure and recreational services or preventive measures to avoid developing further complications or disabilities. The services may be provided in community or clinical setting. The goal is to ensure the participation of the client and be able to adopt a healthy and balanced leisure lifestyle. Therapeutic recreation usually involve the assessment of the client, formulation of necessary treatment plans that will accurately  and effectively the areas of intervention, implementation of developed treatment plan, documentation of the client’s progress on regular basis and evaluation of  the effectiveness of the interventions being implemented. Recreational Therapists use leisure activities, recreational activities, art, drama, movement, music, writing and verbal processes as tools help facilitate their clients’ healing and growth. This enables the clients to acquire and develop their knowledge, skills and behaviors allowing them to optimize on their leisure activities, be independently functional with least or no assistance as possible. This will then enable them to fully participate in the normal society.

Therapeutic Recreation Settings

Therapeutic recreation is offered in different areas depending of their proximity to the individual and the specialty of the interventions being implemented on the individual. There are various setting to choose from. Hospitals are the main and the most specialized and equipped of the centers. They have highly trained therapist with enormous experience and knowledge. They deal with critical and more demanding situations. The services are both available in public and private hospitals. The second area where one can find therapeutic recreation are the inpatient rehabilitation centre. Like hospitals these are also very well equipped and have skilled professionals. These centers have boarding facilities with required number of bed spaces. Most of them are specialized to deal with just specific illness or disabilities. Inpatient rehabilitation centers are mainly setup and funded by the governments. However there are few of these rehabilitations centers that are privately owned (Carter, 2011).

Patients with situations that are not very serious are usually treated on a day time basis. These patients stay at there homes but will meet regularly with their therapist in outpatient health care. They are to be brought in by their relatives, friends and are sometimes even picked from home with the organizations vehicles.  The outpatients are preferred by many people as it still gives the patients the love of the family and also is comfortable compared using inpatient rehabilitation facilities. They are also relatively each and can be afforded by many.

Adult and youth correctional facilities are also used to offer therapeutic recreation to their members. Because of the difficult situation most in mates live in they are prone to illness especially those caused by stress and also some of them either get disabled in there by other inmate or get behind the bars when they are already disabled. Therapeutic recreation is provided to these persons to help them adjust to the new environment.

Older adults who are generally too old to walk long distances are provided with residential facilities. The experts visit them regularly and help them to turn their leisure activities into ways these old members of the societies can improve both their health and also increase their independence from their relatives. This is done to ensure that the old live in comfortable live and do not require much attention from the other family members living them with adequate time to involve in economic activities.

Other places where therapeutic recreation is done are the schools, day programs fro the elderly and community based agencies. Day program is open to the elderly with or without disability or illness. The community based agencies however deal mainly with persons with disabilities.

Clients Served

Therapeutic facilities cater for a wide range of problems among people. Physical disabilities (both in adults and children) can be a major problem to them and also a source of discomfort to their normal daily activities. These people with disabilities live difficult life as they are not able to access the normal facilities available to every one. The main disabilities are blindness, non functional limbs or amputated limps after an accident or diseases like cancer.

Mental illness also requires therapeutic recreation. People with these problems are very critical because if they are not handled carefully their problem may develop and leads to the insanity of the individual. Mental illness may result from various situations like long sickness, stress, depressions like death of a loved one and also from accidentals blows of the head of and individual. Diseases that affect nervous system will lead to mental illness easily.

Therapeutic recreation is also given to individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. These are people who do not act normally as expected of people of that age. This is due to slow or incomplete development of their brain. The patient will usually have problems relating to other members of the society who most of the times discriminate against them.

Other members of the society that will need therapeutic recreation services are youths that are at risk of being badly influence by their peers, both juvenile and adult offenders, the elderly people with limitations, persons who frequently have emotions problems, all the elderly receiving long term care and persons with alcohol and other substance abuse problems.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Recreation Therapist

Conducting assessment on the clients’ situation is their first and very important duty. They carry out the assessment to determine the exact condition of the patients. This will determine whether the situation is very critical or it is still a beginning problem. Very critical situation will be dealt for quickly to avoid further endangering of the patients life.

Their second responsibility is to develop, implement and evaluate the implemented the intervention plans. Intervention plans are those ways the therapist will use to solve the patients problems. This are developed to fit each situation with references to former success in similar problems. The therapist usually takes this serious as wrong intervention plan will mean time wastage and further enhancement of the problem. Being a professional the therapist is responsible for any wrong decision he makes. After assessing the patient the therapist will then provide a functional intervention program whether it involves pet therapy, horticulture therapy, aquatic therapy and adventure challenge therapy.

The therapist also oversees and facilitates the leisure or recreation education program. He or she will ensure that the plan is implemented to the letter and necessary changes made as any new situation arises. He or she will continue to assess the patient to see if the method is succeeding. This will also involve him documenting the entire patient’s condition on a chart and analyze them frequently (Robertson, 2008).

Therapists also conduct research on the effectiveness of various intervention plans used as part of therapeutic recreation. Being the people on the ground, they are capable of getting very accurate data and with little effort. These finding can then be sued to find out successful intervention methods and on what condition. They will then serve as future reference base when determining intervention plans for similar or closer cases in the future.

Most corrective centers, and also schools, have therapists on their interdisciplinary teams. They serve the as counsel and guidance and are involved in correct behaviors of the people who are believed to beyond the normal corrective systems. They also give advice to the committee on how certain inmates or students can be handled to avoid their further rebel to the authority. Therapists are also involved in advocating for the profession and encouraging more people to enter the profession.

Costs of therapeutic recreation

Therapeutic method is a relatively expensive way to of treatment to patients. It involves a program that runs for long and in some cases will even go all the remaining life of the patient. The process also involves more direct contact of the therapist and the patient which means that payment are higher. Because of this governments offer subsidized rates in their facilities and also provide food for those in inpatient care. Government also introduced the system into various departments like education and corrective centers to problems are dealt with early to avoid expensive method being used.



With continued rise in health and disability problems that tend to alienate the victims from the society, therapeutic recreation has been a success and is still the fundamental way to deal with the problems. Therapist are now more involved in trying to avoid situations that can easily be prevented from arising rather than waiting to tackle the situation. This has increased the success of therapeutic recreation.

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