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 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.


Blogger ahmedtaslim said...

I just happend to come across your Comment on our article in American Psychologist on postive psychology. See "Using Positive Psychology with Special Mental Health Populations," American Psychologist, 61, pp333-335,2006. You are right, recreational therapy related activities do employ a positive psychology approach in working with people in general and when used with mentally ill population in collaboration with other services. In our short Comment, we were challenging the notion of too much emphasis of focusing on analysis of negative behaviors and emotions to effect positive change in the traditional therapy approaches, as this kind of emphasis may feed into many mentally ill clients' long-standing tendency to focus on their identification with "negatives," along with continued "preoccuation with negative thoughts and feelings." Additionally, it generates "a negative relationship" framework in their working relationship with the therapist. There is less attention paid in therapy how to stimulate or make use of positive skills or interests client has and build on them in clients' recovey process. In addition, using a multimodal approach, paper-and-pencil exercise or collaborative dialogue using computer word processor, help compensate deficits many clients may exhibit in processing information when presented only in a conversational mode using auditory processing mode. My work and publication on computer facilitated therapy support this. See the list of publications in this area in my website (biography section):
In the past year, I worked collaborative with a physical education teacher using a variety of short physical exercises with young children to promote thinking, following diection, anticiaptory behaviors, paying attention, following, following rules, waiting for turns, etc., all necessary skills for adaptive behavior in social and physical situations. As we move out bodies in physical and social space, our sense of awareness help us determine how we are going to respond adaptively to different stituations that we encounter in our daily life. Play interactions help us acquire these skills, but many children miss out this type of normal exposure to play and developmental experiences, and many adults with mental illness lose this kind of "body awareness." This is still a very rudimentary idea that I hope to test out in clinical practice and formulate more clearly, how to inetegrate movement related exercises (involvement of cerebellum) with reasoning, thinking, and adaptive behavior, which also what recreational therapy aims to achieve. May be from your professional training and experience you can shed some thoughts and ideas on this. Like to hear from you. If you choose, you can email your thoughts to

4:49 PM  

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