Recreational Therapy… What is that?!

Recreation is the re-creation of a moment, feeling, place, or experience. It is often something that brings joy, excitement, peace, and pleasure to those who partake. Therapy is the work of improving well-being through purposeful intervention led by a professional. Putting those two concepts together, Recreational Therapy (RT) is the improvement of well-being through the purposeful use of recreation.

Why is Recreation important?

Recreation and leisure, which is recreation done simply because it is enjoyed by the participant, are important throughout a person’s entire lifetime. This begins at infancy and is most significant at childhood because many of the most important developmental skills learned during childhood are learned through play and recreation: sharing, communication, listening, safety-awareness, motor skills, coordination, and much more.

Even when minimal skills are being built during some play, if the child enjoys it then the activity is providing an outlet recreation or leisure. Sometimes a child simply needs a play experience to give them a moment to themselves.

But wait, doesn’t my child’s OT do this?

Kind of! It is true that play is an occupation for children and that an OT can use recreation and play to work towards a child’s OT goals. What makes OT and RT different is that a RT is helping the client gain independence in their daily recreation and prefered leisure, while an OT is helping a client gain skills and maximum independence in their occupations. Both services are great but should be used within their scopes of practice with goals in mind. Here are a few more therapeutic practices that fall into the RT scope of practice: Animal Assisted Interventions, Aquatic Therapy (also falls in the categories of OT and PT dependent upon the child), Adaptive Sports, Bibliotherapy, and Community Outings.

Why is Recreational Therapy a good fit for many children with disabilities?

Sometimes play and recreation don’t come naturally or aren’t as accessible for some children in a variety of ways. Recreational Therapists find ways to make play and recreation accessible by either working towards gaining the skills needed for participation without alteration of the recreation, or adapting the play or recreation just enough so that the person can participate with maximum independence. Recreational Therapy can also provide tools and resources for recreation and leisure that is lifelong, for example: golf, tennis, painting, reading, hiking, camping, yoga, etc.

Can my child receive Recreational Therapy at CI?

Yes, they can! If you’re interested in availability for Recreational Therapy, give us a call at (608) 819-6394 or email us here.

Thank you for reading!
Ketura M. Luginbuhl, CTRS – Recreational Therapist