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!


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