Activity therapy, also called recreational therapy, is used in many different settings. Specialists trained in the administration of this therapy can work with clients who have different diagnoses, including depression, social anxiety, eating disorders, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or AIDS. Benefits of activity therapy are physical and mental.
A primary benefit of activity therapy is improved mental functioning. Using this therapy as a stress-reduction tool, clients find that they react more calmly to stressful situations and learn how to avoid additional stress. Accomplishing the activities involved with the therapy helps the client develop a sense of confidence. When he or she is able to accomplish the various therapy tasks, it builds a sense of mastery that carries into non-therapeutic life.
Activity therapy can enhance a client's body image. Many people have a distorted sense of what they look like. Patients with eating disorders may believe they are larger than they actually are. People who have become disfigured due to cancer or accidents often believe their scarring is much more noticeable than it really is. Research has concluded that activity therapy can help change the client's self-image and give him or her a more realistic idea of how he or she looks to the world.
While the mental and emotional benefits of this type of therapy are important, there are also physical benefits. Clients who take part in activity therapy have reported reductions in chronic pain, improved flexibility, increased physical endurance, and better cardiovascular functioning. Participants diagnosed with arthritis may experience an improved range of motion.
Additional benefits of the therapy involve mental acuity. According to research conclusions, a better attention span and an increased alertness are possible through the use of this therapy. By increasing the overall level of activity through participation in therapy, clients may become more social as their confidence increases.
Activity therapy is used in a variety of settings. Specialists in this type of therapy work with the elderly, developmentally delayed adults, the mentally ill, and the chronically ill. Each session is tailored to the particular group's needs. For example, in a class for developmentally delayed adults, social network expansion might be one of the goals. Using activities that call for teamwork and partnerships helps participants learn to communicate with and trust each other.
Through activity therapy, clients may rebuild self-esteem, enhance body image, and increase physical endurance. Social networking skills may be improved, and friendships may be formed. Many different benefits may be derived from attending activity therapy sessions.