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.

Friday, June 30, 2006

So Little Time -- But a Need to Get Started Discussing Reactions to Adopting the RT Term

With the Independence Day holiday coming up soon, like everyone else, I too am busy. But I feel compelled to take a few minutes to continue the discussion of adopting the term RT and the related topic of curriculum reform. Hopefully this post will lead to further comment by those contributing to the RT Blog.

Thanks to Thom Skalko, Sharon Nichols, Ray West, Jerry Kelley, and "Cindy" for their comments on posts related to adopting the term RT. By the way, I am impressed that some of the top people in our profession have taken the time to make comments. In this post, I would like to begin to bring together some of their thoughts so that others might react to them.

First, there is strong consensus that our profession needs to pursue curriculum reform. And the sentiment is clear -- reform should be sooner rather than later. Let's hope the ATRA leadership is listening to the voices calling for immediate action on curriculum reform. The need to examine the M.S. as the entry-level degree has also received support and calls for exploration.

Second, it has been suggested that the term therapeutic recreation is confusing. Cindy commented: "I say yes for RT. People are confused when I say TR. I don't like to keep talking." I believe most of us can relate to Cindy's statement. Thom Skalko echoed Cindy's belief, calling the term therapeutic recreation "confusing."

Third, there is a consensus that we need to clearly distinguish between inclusive recreation and recreation therapy or recreational therapy. There is some disagreement over whether RT should stand for recreation therapy or recreational therapy but no disagreement that RT needs to be differentiated from inclusive recreation and special recreation.

Fourth, most agreed that it is time to consider adopting the term RT. Kelley kidded us about being like "deja vu all over again" since the RT vs. TR debate was going on in the late 1960s and the 1970s. Skalko reminded us that over a decade ago, during his term as ATRA president, the membership struggled with a name change for ATRA to ARTA. Again, some favored the term "recreation therapy" and others "recreational therapy." My guess is that this difference can be resolved relatively quickly and will not amount to much in the end.

And, finally, the general sentiment is that, as Sharon stated, "the time has come for our profession to truly clarify how we define ourselves and our profession." In doing so we need to keep in mind the importance of our treatment function to those in the health care community. We also need to present a model of practice that identifies health promotion and illness prevention as goals in our practice.

There you have a synopsis of the comments to date. I hope that I have fairly represented the views of those who have posted comments or send emails. And I further hope that the RT Blog can be a place to help move some of these thoughts forward. Have a happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Alberta Centre for Active Living

Professor Chuck Killingsworth, Ph.D., CTRS, recently sent out a message to the ATRA educators list in which he shared information about the Alberta Centre for Active Living. The Center supports research and education and serves as an advocate for physical activity for Alberta and Canada. But information provided by the Centre will certainly be of interest to those beyond the borders of our neighbors to the North. Chuck mentioned the Centre's web site and materials on physical activity and mental health. In exploring the web site I found some interesting links on exercise and mental health. In case you want to check the Centre's web site out for yourself the address is www.centre4activeliving.ca

Chuck's information falls on the heels of my post of June 18 titled "Great! Training in Physical Activity." In that post I mention an apparent growing interest in physical activity by RTs and I call for university RT professional preparation programs to require a course in physical activity.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Voelkl Elected to Academy of Leisure Sciences

I just received a message from the president of the Academy of Leisure Sciences, John Hultsman, that contained some great news. Our colleague, Judi Voelkl, has been elected to the Academy of Leisure Sciences (ALS). Election to the ALS is a high honor for a scholar -- perhaps the highest. Most know that Judi is a (full) Professor at Clemson and that she received ATRA's Scholarly Achievement Award last year. Congratulations, Judi!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Indiana is more than basketball! Our State Poem.

Yes, we Hoosiers, whether RTs or not, love our basketball. But our love for our home state goes beyond basketball. Here is a poem that reflects some of our feelings:


God crowned her hills with beauty,
Gave her lakes and winding streams,
Then He edged them all with woodlands
As the setting for our dreams.

Lovely are her moonlit rivers,
Shadowed by the sycamores,
Where the fragrant winds of Summer
Play along the willowed shores.

I must roam those wooded hillsides,
I must head the native call,
For a pegan voice within me
Seems to answer to it all.

I must walk where squirrls scamper
Down a rustic old rail fence,
Where a choir of birds is singing
In the woodland...green and dense.

I must learn more of my homeland
For it's paradise to me,
There's no haven quite as peaceful,
There's no place I'd rather be.

Indiana...is a garden
Where the seeds of peace have grown,
Where each tree, and vine, and flower
Has a beauty...all its own.

Lovely as the fields and meadows,
That reach out to hills that rise
Where the dreamy Wabash River
Wanders on...through paradise.

By Arthur Franklin Mapes, Kendallville, Indiana. Adopted as Indiana's official poem.

Friday, June 23, 2006

RT Blog in TR Directory Newsletter

Thanks to Charlie Dixon for reprinting "Time for Profession to Adopt RT Term!" in the most recent issue of the TR Directory Newsletter. "Time for Profession to Adopt RT Term!" was originally posted June 9th on the RT Blog. To subscribe to the TR Directory Newsletter go to http://www.recreationtherapy.com/mlm/index.htm

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Today Proclaimed "George Patrick Day" by RT Blog

Today there will be "retirement party" held in honor of George Patrick, Ph.D., CTRS. Most know George as Director of RT for NIH -- and as a golfer. George will retire from NIH and head for Georgia at the end of the month. Congratulations, George, on your accomplishments during your many years of RT service and best wishes in your retirement! In your honor, the RT Blog officially proclaims this to be "George Patrick Day!"

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Sick Blogs" Helpful? Any RTs Using Blogs?

An article on "sick blogs" appeared this morning in our local newspaper. Reasons for blogging about how a person is doing with an illness were discussed in the article. These included providing updates to family and friends and describing treatments for others with the illness. Another reason mentioned was the cathartic value of sharing thoughts with others.

I can certainly see the therapeutic potential of " sick blogs." So I did some searching on the Internet to determine what I could find about the therapeutic value of such blogs. Unfortunately, the Internet revealed little in terms of articles or research on "sick blogs."

I would be very interested to know if RT clients are blogging and, if so, how RTs are facilitating these bloggers. If you are helping clients with developing "sick blogs" I hope you will comment on this post.

The blogger with the first "sick blog" with which I am familiar was Jerry Dickason. Many of you know Jerry as a former RT in Indiana and Red Cross worker who became an RT professor at NYU and Montclair State University and who was a national leader in RT (e.g., past NTRS president). Jerry is now retired. His blog is "Dickason's Prostate Cancer." There is a post on the RT Blog dated May 22, 2006, that talks about Jerry's blog. By the way, Jerry's blog is wonderfully written and provides many insights about both Jerry and the cancer with which he is dealing.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Great! Training in Physical Activity

I just received the mailer on the 2006 ATRA Annual Conference to be held in Orlando, September 14 - 18. It pleased me to see the post-conference intensive "Exercise for Frail Elders and Adults with Special Needs." Betsy Best-Martini, M.S., CTRS, is to lead this all-day intensive. The Madison RT Workshop to be held in Madison, Indiana, in July also has one-half day devoted to sessions on physical activity.

To see the provision of RT training on physical activity warms my heart. As a health and physical education major as a undergrauate I learned the value of physical activity to health. Yet there has seemingly been a decline in the proivision of physical activity programs by RTs over the past 30 years. I lamented on this situation in a chapter titled "A Call for Training in Physical Activity" in the textbook Conceptual Foundations for Therapeutic Recreation that I edited with John Dattilo and Bryan McCormick for Venture Publishing in 2002. It appears my call has begun to be answered! (Although I seriously doubt that the provision of the ATRA and Madison training on physical activity actually grew out of my call.)

The apparent interest by RTs in physical activity should be a signal to universities to make sure those preparing for careers in our profession are given training in conducting physical activity programs. How many university RT curricula now require a course in physical activities? My guess is that few do today. It is time to change this by universities adding such a requirement. My chapter in Conceptual Foundaitons should provide RT faculty with a rationale for the addition of a course dealing with physical activity.

Friday, June 16, 2006

International Session at ATRA Conference

Earlier this month I talked about the international travel of Youngkhill Lee and Bryan McCormick and suggested ATRA should hold an International Institute at the Annual Conference. Guess what. There will be an international session at ATRA.

I recently heard from SIU professors Heewan Yang, Ph.D., CTRS, and Marjorie Malkin, Ed.D., CTRS. They informed me that they will be doing a session at the ATRA Conference in Orlando titled "Globalization of Recreational Therapy 2006." Speakers for the session will include Joy Lin (Taiwan), Yongho Lee (Canada), Jari Aho (Finland), and Jun-Ahn Chae & Ara Lee (Korea). Heewan and Marjorie are to be congratulated for organizing this international event. I would urge ATRA members to support it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Great Initial Response to Call to Adopt RT Term

I am both surprised and pleased by the response thus far to the post "Time for Profession to Adopt RT Term!" In the first 48 hours following the post I received five email messages which were all in favor of adopting the term recreation therapy. And, by the way, all five messages were from "big names" in our profession. You may have also seen the well prepared comment by Sharon n ctrs (wonder who that is!) in which she stressed the need to distinguish ourselves from special recreation.

I want to share a particularly interesting email message that I received from Jerry Kelley. Jerry is now retired but was a leading national figure in our profession in the 1970s. Jerry wrote:

I just had a chance to read the RT Blog regarding a name change for Therapeutic Recreation and it's like "deja vu all over again." Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many of us urged the profession to make clear its identity, mission and purpose by adopting the name Recreation Therapy, a name that puts the emphasis on the treatment process rather than the recreation experience. ATRA should have taken this step when it was formed years later. Perhaps this generation of leaders in the field will have the courage to adopt a name that better relects the profession. Jerry Kelley, Ph.D., 1973 NTRS President

Sunday, June 11, 2006

National Men's Health Week -- June 12 - 18, 2006

I would like to encourage RTs to help celebrate National Men's Health Week, June 12th - 18th, 2006. If you think this week has nothing to do with women, think again. How healthy men are also affects women according to Congressman Bill Richardson who said, "Recognizing and preventing men's health problems is not jus a man's issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men's health is truly a family affair" (Congressional Record, May 24, 1994).

There are several web sites that offer information helpful to celebrating National Men's Health Week. Among them are the Men's Heatlh Week web site that provides a history of how Senator Bob Dole and others started Men's Health Week. From that site you will also be able to find Men's Health Week items for purchase, including the Prostate Stress Ball. The address is http://menshealthweek.org/

The CDC and the Men's Health Network also have web sites specifically related to men's health. These sites offer men information on being healthy and Men's Health Week provides a time for men to start improving their health -- and for RTs to assist in this enterprise.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Time for Profession to Adopt RT Term!

In the book, Conceptual Foundations for Therapeutic Recreation published by Venture Publishing in 2002, I wrote the following:

"The time has come to restructure the system of education based on a clear definition of the therapeutic recreation profession. This reform needs to rest on boundaries that distinguish special and inclusive recreation from therapeutic recreation. It may also be time to adopt the term recreation therapy to more clearly represent the clinical approach that uses recreation as an intervention and follows the systematic process of assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation. If therapeutic recreation curricula do not take this step, therapeutic recreation will remain "lost in familiar places" (Dumas, 1994), and doomed to the long tradition of basing curricula on a definition lacking clear boundaries" (p. 210).

We need a clear demarcation between inclusive recreation (i.e., provision of normal recreation services for persons with disabilities) and recreation therapy (i.e., using interventions to bring about higher levels of health and wellness). A definitive separation between inclusive recreation and RT can lead to advances for both. In my chapter in Conceptual Foundations for Therapeutic Recreation I elaborate on this position of making a clear separation between inclusive recreation and recreation therapy in order to have a foundation for curricula.

Obviously, what we call ourselves makes a difference beyond university curricular concerns. Employing the term recreation therapy would make a large difference in clearly defining ourselves to others -- who today are confused as to whether we are recreators or therapists.

With this post, I would like to raise the issue as to whether it is now time to drop the term therapeutic recreation and adopt the term recreation theapy. In doing research on the history of ATRA I was surprised to learn that several nationally prominent leaders have stated that they believe ATRA made a mistake in not becoming ARTA in 1984. Does our profession wish to compound that mistake by not correcting it now?

Words Can Be Powerful

"Words are things; and a small
drop of ink,
Falling like dew upon a thought,
That which makes thousands,
perhaps millions think."

Lord Byron (1788-1824), from "Don Juan"

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

RTs and International Travel

It was my pleasure to have lunch today with former IU colleagues Youngkhill Lee and Bryan McCormick. Both are soon to depart on international trips. Youngkhill is headed to Mongolia, a country in Central Asia that is bordered by Russia and China. Bryan is going to Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey. (Ray West and other more mature RTs may recall that Istanbul was known as Constantinople until 1930.)

It was exciting for me to know that two of our colleagues are traveling to such distant places in the world -- where I am sure they will be spreading the good word about RT. It would be nice to know of other RTs who are doing international work. If you are, I hope you will comment on this post and let us know of your travels.

Learning about the international travel of Youngkhill and Bryan brought to my mind ATRA's International Institute held in Cincinnati in 2000 at ATRA's Annual Conference. All who participated felt the institute was a great event. Perhaps it is time for ATRA to organize another International Institute. What do you think?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Positive Psychology Borrowing from RT?

In writing about using positive psychology in the treatment of clients with mental illness two authors in the American Psychologist recently wrote that positive psychology "focuses on creating an optimal environment in which positive skills may be more readily practiced and, consequently, in which clients are able to engage in a more productive day routine." Isn't this exactly what RT has been doing for years? We have long emphasized clients' skills, strengths and abilities in our treatment, as well as the provision of opportunities to use those positive attributes. It is too bad that RT has not been given more credit for its contributions to the field of positive psychology. It reminds me that RTs need to write more about what they do and the concepts on which their practice is based.

By the way, in case you wish to read the comment I referred to, the reference to positive psychology was from the May-June, 2006, issue of the American Psychologist, volume 61, pages 333-335. It is titled "Using Positive Psychology with Special Mental Health Populations" and was authored by Mohiuddin Ahmed and Charles M. Boisvert.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Kids Need Exercise. Go Marcia Go!

In looking over the May-June issue of the ATRA Newsletter I was pleased to see ATRA member Marcia Smith, M.S., CTRS, is helping to lead an initiative to increase physical activity for children and youth with disabilities. The initiative is being organized by the Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS offers a six-week program that RTs may implement. Marcia is a long-time member of the RT Department at the National Instiute of Health and would like to hear from anyone with interest in the DHHS program. Marcia may be contacted at 301.496.8876 or mdsmith@nih.gov