What Is Therapeutic Recreation?

Jacob Queen

Therapeutic recreation includes a variety of activities generally designed to promote the health of individuals with illnesses, disabilities, and other issues. This sort of therapy, which is meant to help in mental, emotional, and physical areas, is generally administered or overseen by people who are certified as recreational therapists. Therapeutic recreation is usually tailored to the specific problems, interests, and capabilities of the patient in question, and may be administered at various medical facilities, along with parks, recreational establishments, and locations specially suited for the meeting of groups. In many cases, recreational therapy is built around fun activities that can potentially give the person some sort of physical benefit, while simultaneously helping the person emotionally by increasing confidence or providing a social outlet.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Many people can potentially benefit from therapeutic recreation, partly because it has such a wide range of potential benefits. People who suffer illnesses or injuries are sometimes given recreational therapy as part of their treatment process, either to help speed their recovery or to help them learn to cope with any life-changing aspects they might need to deal with. Additionally, some people who are born with permanent disabilities, both mental and physical, can also get a lot out of recreational therapy.

Whereas many therapeutic methods are focused on a single aspect of healing, therapeutic recreation is often beneficial for a wide range of simultaneous issues. When people are afflicted with some kind of life-changing injury, or if individuals are born with a disability, they may have to cope with a lot of things other than the practical issues associated with their conditions. In many cases, individuals under these circumstances can become depressed, neglect their social lives, and eventually suffer major physical problems due to an overall lack of activity. Therapeutic recreation has the potential to solve all these problems at once. Many of the activities used provide something fun for the person to do that is also often social, and usually physical enough to function as a workout.

The kinds of recreational activities used in this kind of therapy will usually depend on the capabilities and needs of the person involved, with some people's needs being more physical while others are more mental. For example, if the individual in question has an amputated leg, he or she might get involved in some kind of sports activity with rules specially designed for amputees. This can potentially give the person a fun competitive outlet, a way to practice using an artificial leg, and a chance to build up some confidence. For other people, therapeutic recreation might be much more casual, focusing instead on providing a chance to interact with other people, or simply giving an individual something interesting to do.

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