I always get asked the same question when I tell people my job title…
“What is Recreation Therapy?”
I used to ‘dumb it down’ and say “well it’s kind of like social work but through groups and games.” But then I realized how degrading and untrue to the career that it is. Recreational therapy is more than playing games with patients. It’s being able to become independent in activities you used to enjoy doing before your injuries or diagnosis of a mental illness. Imagine your favorite activity – soccer, basketball, volleyball, drawing, coloring, playing videogames, or even watching TV – being stripped of your capabilities because of an auto accident, TBI, spinal cord injury, developmental disability, or onset of a mental illness. We underestimate the little things we do for leisure time and enjoyment to escape the stressors of life.
In my field, Recreational Therapy is an outlet for inpatient psychiatric patients to develop coping skills and identify new skills to use in their free time instead of resulting to drugs or toxic people/relationships. It’s a way for them to learn new activities that they didn’t have the opportunity growing up to experience. It’s a way to provide resources in their community to them through local recreation centers and crisis hotlines.
I’m excited and motivated to be into my first career at a young age right out of college in such an up-and-coming time for Recreation therapists and the growth of the field!
-Amber, CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist)