an inTeRlink feature
Challenges Facing Therapeutic Recreation
MacKinnon, reproduced with permission.
Challenges Facing Therapeutic Recreation. The challenges
facing Therapeutic Recreation at the moment are:
1. The lack of information on Therapeutic Recreation
that is available to other professional bodies or organizations where Certified
Therapeutic Recreation Specialist's find themselves working, and
2. The lack of professional and personal development
of entering Therapeutic Recreation Specialists.
Firstly, the lack of information on TR creates
a false picture of what TR is in the minds of fellow professionals. I have found
that many professionals view TR as being merely diversionary and playful in
nature. These ideas, that we are viewed as the people who play with the clients,
that we are diversionary, need to be changed. This pervasive view is especially
prominent among younger professionals in other fields. More mature professionals
may have a better sense of the value of TR. What we are doing is essentially
rehearsing, with the clients, actions, feelings, movements and attitudes that
they may have deal with, within themselves or with others when they leave the
I find this rehearsal or programming time is becoming
problematic in the work place. Our fellow colleagues, unfortunately, use program
time to do core work on units without the clients. This core work includes:
strategic planning, departmental changes, model creation, etc. Most of this
work is done with the CTRS busy working with the clients. The CTRS has no direct
input on client care, departmental policy, and the laying of a positive foundation
for the future of client services.
This issue can be addressed at the local level
by in-service trainings, providing information from our professional bodies,
and by the CTRS doing the best professional work possible. But do we have readily
accessible information that is appropriate? Where is this information, and is
it applicable to the individual TR unit?
Yes, we have TR week, posters and flyers, but
in my opinion, a well trained TR person will create or leave a legacy far more
effective than this superficial information. At the national level, bridges
must be built between comparable professional bodies, e.g. counseling, medicine,
rehabilitation sciences, etc. This is and must continue to be, part of the mandate
of our organizations. One area, however, that is lacking is building bridges
and interdepartmental communication at the University level.
Students and professors ought to actively educate
while they are in other classes and on campus. Skills can be developed at school
on how to best advocate for TR in professional settings. This awareness program
may have to be continued on a yearly basis until TR is sufficiently in the minds
of brother and sister professions that education at the professional level can
function merely as a reminder to an already established base.
This means that as students or professionals we
must be able to talk their language as well as our own. For if they debate with
us or require information we must answer back and provide an adequate answer.
Then we can bring them to way of perceiving how we view our clients, our profession
and leisure. This leads to my second point.
The second problem, as I see it, is preparation
for professional entry. This problem may be harder to consider. To adequately
represent the profession, the entering CTRS ought to have as many broad based
skills as is necessary to carry out functions as required. The functions that
are required in all TR settings are the programming of activities and interventions,
based on the ITP or the goals and objectives of the team.
As CTRS's we are trained in writing goals and
objectives for groups and activities, but what I feel is lacking is the ability
to deliver on the intervention and application of the goals and objectives,
while the intervention is taking place. Emphasis on technical skills is essential
for third party reimbursement, but to have successful groups or outcomes we
must have knowledge of group dynamics, life experiences and failures. This may
be part of the internship, but to fail too often may reflect a lack of training
in the facilitation of groups and with people skills in general.
To counteract this, students ought to have as
much group work as possible. This would be direct facilitation of groups, not
just team orientated activity planning. This ought to be coupled with a class
on personal growth and development or visits with groups that are on this path,
e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Service organizations, Habitat
for Humanity, self help groups or personal support groups for people with disabilities.
A class on human growth and development is not adequate except for points of
reference. An understanding of pain, internal suffering, and the ability to
overcome, strike me as being much more appropriate to the task self actualization.
This is a holistic profession and as practitioners
we ought to be walking our talk. This will place a larger burden on students,
but it would be one that is reflected in better professional skills and better
human beings helping other's. If we profess, as an end result, self actualization
and growth as goals for our clients then we too must be on this path, if we
are not, then we really do not understand where we are going or how to get there,
let alone guide someone through the process.
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