CAREERS: Recreational Therapists
Updated: Jul 8, 2019
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 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.