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.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lee Meyer's Writings were Prophetic

Those who did not know Lee Meyer missed something. Lee provided much leadership for RT back in the 1970s and 1980s while a faculty member at Chapel Hill. In those days, I spent several evenings drinking beer with Lee and discussing RT philosophy -- which both of us loved to do. I no longer drink but it is the times with Lee that I really miss, not the beer.

Lee was prophetic in his writing about the future of the profession and the eventual development of ATRA. In his 1980 paper titled "Philosophical Alternatives and the Professionalization of Therapeutic Recreation" he wrote about NTRS and the difficulities it faced:

"The dual representation of therapists and special recreators by NTRS seems to present some ideological as well as practical difficulities. Ideologically, this position suggests that therapeutic recreation is not an occupation, per se, but rather it is make up of two or more occupational specialities which seems to imply that therapeutic recreation is a "field." This same position also seems to suggest that the uniqueness of therapeutic recreation is not so much in what it provides or how it is provided, but to whom it is provided" (i.e., persons with disabilities).

Lee went on:
"From a practical and realistic viewpoint, should NTRS (therapeutic recreation) attempt to represent two cadres of practitioners, each with different immediate service purpose and each practicing their specialty in quite disparate agencies?"

Finally, he stated:
"Some might argue that there are not two cadres of practitiones, only one--therapeutic recreation. To reason in this fashion is to ignore the obvious differences between these two subspecializations in regard to purpose, work setting, accountability, structure, etc. Therapists and special recreators function in different worlds. Given such significant differences it is only a matter of time...when one or the other of these specializations seeks their independence from the other" (pp. 40-41).

Lee was prophetic as ATRA was formed in 1984 by a group of clinicians-- just four years after his words were published. Unfortunately, ATRA has, to date, failed to really embrace its therapy roots by adopting the term recreation therapy (or recreational therapy) in the title of the association. Isn't it time to do so?


Blogger Thom Skalko said...

Hoosier-RT's comments regarding Lee Meyers' work are perhaps well timed. It is unfortunate that many of our younger faculty members and students are unfamiliar with Lee's message on philosophical alternatives.

As presented, it is perhaps time to embrace the mission of our field...therapy. Inclusive recreation is an ethical responsibility of the recreation profession. NRPA has abrogated that responsibility much too long. I trust we can separate our mission (recreational therapy) from who is best equipped to deliver a service. While inclusive recreation may be the responsibility of the recreation profession (vs recreational therapy), well prepared recreational therapists may still be the best equipped to deliver that service.

It is not an issue of loyalties.
It is the difference between the mission and RT and what roles we can play in diverse markets. it is time to focus on our mission.

1:40 PM  

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