RT Blog

Location: Indiana, United States

I became a Professor Emeritus after serving 29 years as a recreational therapy faculty member at Indiana University. I'm a long-time Hoosier, having grown up in Hanover, Indiana. My RT practitioner work was in psych/mental health. After completing my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, my first faculty position was at the University of North Texas. RT has been a wonderful profession for me as I have had the opportunity to serve as an author and national leader.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Thanks Charlie!

Charlie Dixon just distributed the April issue of his web-based "Therapeutic Recreation Directory Newsletter." I'd like to express my appreciation to Charlie for inviting his readers to check out the RT Blog. Charlie is also to be commended for his promotion of ATRA's Recreational Therapy Medicare Project in the same issue of the Newsletter. The Project is something that all RTs should support.

We all owe Charlie Dixon a debt of gratitude for having the foresight to establish the RT/TR Directory and for maintaining it so well for a number of years. If you haven't looked over the RT/TR Directory, you should. The address is http://www.recreationtherapy.com/directory/

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

On The Importance of a Philosophy of Practice

This summer I will be doing an RT workshop session that will offer each participant an opportunity to examine his or her philosophy of practice. Putting together this session has allowed me to think about my personal views relating to philosophy of practice. As a result, I have become further convinced of the close relationship between philosophy and practice -- and the need for recreation therapists to occasionally revisit the beliefs that underlie their philosophies.

Thinking about philosophy is far more than an intellectual exercise to be engaged in by academics. It is something that every thoughtful and reflective practitioner should do. Philosophy of practice does not deal with a lot of meaningless abstract notions but, instead, it drives our actions. Our philosophy directs what we do in our practice on a daily basis.

If you are engaging in "yes, but..." thinking I can certainly understand. When in grad school at Illinois I recall telling my friend Jerry Kelley (who didn't agree with me) that RT was a practice discipline and it was what we did that was really important and not what we thought. I have long since changed my mind.

Granted we are an action orientated profession and the things we do with our clients are certainly critical. I strongly believe that a philosophy of RT practice must be relevant to what we do everyday with our clients. Philosophy for its own sake is of little help to the practitioner.

What makes philosophy meaningful is understanding how our philosophy of practice underlies and affects what we do as practitioners in our action orientated therapeutic enterprise -- and I can assure you that our philosophical beliefs do influence our approaches with our clients. For example, if you believe that people have a natural tendency toward achieving health and well being, your approach will be a positive one in which you nurture your clients in their attempts to recover their health and well being. Such philosophical ideas guide our everyday practice.

As reflective practitioners, we must engage in thinking about our philosophies of practice. If not, on what will our practice be based? We must think about the purpose and value of what we do as recreation therapists. If not, we will have empty practices in which others will tell us what is important and how we should approach our life's work.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Well, dearie, it's the sixties again."

As she headed into her 60s journalist Linda Ellerbee recalled that in her favorite birthday card a friend had written: "Well, dearie, it's the sixties again." "Right on" said Linda and as someone in his 60s I certainly appreciate the sentiment.

The 1960s were a different time. They rocked! We loved the new sounds of the Beatles (and Paul singing about when he was 64) and Little Richard -- and we were able to "twist again like we did last summer" with Fats. We had a sense of freedom that allowed us to experience a lot of new things. We were free to reach out, try new things (remember "free love") , and new ways of thinking. Rock music has perhaps come to best represent the freedom we felt back in the 1960s.

For those of us who are in our 60s it is fitting to relate to the 1960s and what they represented. Happily, most of us "old guys" today can enjoy the type of freedon we did as young people. With retirement we are again free to express ourselves -- to reach out, try new things, and new ways of thinking. I'm looking forward to exercising my new freedom to reach out to others (this blog for example), try new things (this blog for example!), and explore new ways of thinking about RT.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

RT Pirate's M.S. Idea Worth Considering

In response to my post regarding the need for curriculum reform, the RT Pirate suggested that RT should move toward requiring a master's degree as the entry-level credential. This is something to think about. With PTs and speech and hearing moving to a doctorate as their practice degrees, it may be time to consider requiring a master's degree to do RT.

Perhaps it is too early at this time to establish the master's as the entry-level degree but it is not too early for universities preparing RT students with master's degrees to come together to establish curriculum guideliens for the degree.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

RT Blog -- a means for discussion

I sincerely hope that the RT Blog will become a place for discussion by those with interest in the recreational therapy profession. Of course, it would be wonderful to have some of the "movers and shakers" from RT join in. It would be equally good to have practitioners and students react to my posts and express their views.

I look forward to hearing from all those with interest in RT. Please join in so we may have discussion of issues of concern to all of us.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lack of RT Curriculum Reform

Over the years, much of my writing and research has focused on the need to reform recreational therapy professional preparation programs. As ATRA president, I was able to bring about a curriculum conference in the mid-1990s. Resulting work lead to ATRA publishing a 1997 document that provided competency/curricular guidelines. Another curriculum conference was held last year but little has seemed to have evolved from it. This is too bad at a time when three levels of preparation are crying for reform. First, there needs to be agreement on guidelines for entry-level curricula. ATRA's 1997 competency/curriculum guidelines and McGree and Skalko's (2001) pilot study on entry-level competencies appeared to provide a strong foundation for entry-level reform. Yet, the profession has not been developed guidelines for entry-level preparation. Second, no helping profession can develop without advanced or master clinicians to move practice forward. It is apparent that master's level curricula need to produce clinicians for advanced practice. Research (Austin, Kastrinos & Stumpt, 1998) identified the existance of 40 some healthy master's programs. This research suggested there was much room for improvement in the preparation of master's students at these institutions. Yet, these universities have failed to provide consistency in master's preparation. Finally, there are less than 10 universities preparing Ph.D. students in RT. Even these institutions have not joined together to make sure future faculty have the type of preparation needed to advance the profession.

The profession is failing its students and handicapping itself by a lack of curricular reform. I plan to read and think more about the issue of curriculum reform and to use the RT blog as a means to urge action.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

My First Post

I must admit some anxiety about writing this first post. Will it be clear? Will anyone read it or really care? Oh, well, here goes. Just yesterday I saw that the new Annual in Therapeutic Recreation (Vol. 14, 2005) was up on the ATRA web site. In it there appears an article that I wrote, "The Changing Contextualization of RT: A 40 Year Perspective." In the article I talk about how the theoritical perspectives for the practice of RT have changed over the years. When I began as a young RT, in 1963 at Madison State Hospital, there truly was no theory to guide us. We were simply hospital recreators. Of course, we wanted our patients to feel good about themselves -- but we didn't really follow a theoretical perspective. It wasn't until the mid-1960s at Evansville State Hospital that I experienced practice as based on theory. At Evansville, the psychoanalytic theory of Freud and others was evident as a basis for practice. The Annual article traces the influences of psychoanalytic theory and other approaches that lead us toward embracing the humanistic approach that has played such a large role in our practice. I close the article by suggesting that today we find that Positive Psychology has joined the humanistic approach in the hearts and minds of RTs. I suggested that Positive Psychology is likely to enjoy a greater place in RT as practitioners become more familiar with it and that this perspective will lead RTs toward increased concern for health promotion.

I'll be interested to know of anyone has read the article in the Annual and has any reaction to it. I look forward to my initial experience with blogging. Hopefully, RTs will find the RT Blog interesting.