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.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays to All RTs

I wish all friends and colleagues the happiest of holiday seasons! I'll look forward to returning to the RT Blog in the New Year.

Recreational Therapy History/Philosophy

I have begun writing a history of ATRA. This process has made me think of the greater history of recreational therapy. While there have been many wonderful contributions to the history of RT by pioneers of our profession, it seems to me that perhaps RT owes more to psychologist Carl Rogers than any single individual.

Rogers has provided many of the core philosophical foundations on which recreational therapy practice rests. RT really began to flourish as a profession following World War II. This is the same time (i.e., 1940s) that Rogers came onto the scene. Thus, his approach to therapy came about at the time that RT was emerging and left a mark on RT practice.

Perhaps the notion of the inherent tendency for personal growth and development is the concept for which Rogers is best known and is a concept embodied in the practice of RT. Much of RT has always been directed to helping clients to remove barriers to self-realization. As Rogers, RTs also help clients take positive actions that decrease the clients' need for help.

For these ideas, I've always liked Rogers' client-centered approach (or person-centered approach as he later termed it) that I believe has had an enormous impact on RT. I think I've also related to Rogers because I happen to share his midwestern background. Born in Oak Park, Illinois (in 1902), he was a "midwestern guy" and a "Big 10 guy," having held faculty positions at Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin. Even though he died of a heart attack in San Diego in 1987, I believe his influence will always live on in recreational therapy practice.

For more on Carl Rogers and his ideas see the source for some of the information for this post at http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/rogers.htm

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Recreational Therapy in the Next Year

I am wondering what the new year will bring for the profession of recreational therapy. It looks like it may bring curriculum reform, at least at the entry-level, as there is a group that is moving ahead to create guidelines/standards for curriculum. This is really needed and I am appreciative that Norma Stumbo, Thom Skalko, Peg Connolly, and others are providing leadership for this movement.

I wonder if other faculty will come forward to show leadership for creating curriculum standards for graduate programs? Both the master's and doctorate programs need attention. Our sister discipline of occupational therapy is moving to a master's degree as an entry-level degree. Physical Therapy has moved to a practice doctorate. Speech and hearing has also gone to a practice doctorate. It seems time for recreational therapy to join its sister professions in giving more attention to graduate preparation. Who is willing to come forward to lead the charge?

Is a name change for ATRA going to occur this coming year? Recently there have been several name changes of national organizations. AAHPERD is the most recent -- changing to the American Alliance for Health and Physical Activity. I don't believe that ATRA best describes who our organization represents or what the members do. ATRA represents recreational therapists who do health protection and health promotion. People just do not understand the expression "therapeutic recreation" but they do have a concept of "recreational therapy." I believe it has hurt the advancement of the profession to use TR and that we need to move now to RT. A good signal for this would be a name change for ATRA this year.

If our profession of recreational therapy can make strides in undergraduate and graduate preparation and bring about a name change for our national organization next year, I think 2007 could be a great year!

On the Psychology of Toys

Some may be interested in reading an article on the psychology of toys that appears in the current issue of the Observer (December, 2006, Vol. 19, No. 12, pp. 26 - 31) published by the Association for Psychological Science. The article is "Toy Stories: The Psychology of Toys," authored by Etienne S. Benson.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another New Name -- ARTA Next?

I recently learned that there is likely to be a new name for AAHPERD. The Board of Governors has approved the name change to the American Alliance for Health and Physical Activity. A vote to finalize the change will take place in March when it will be submitted to the Alliance Assembly.

This is the second name change that I've learned about in the past week or so. You may recall that the National Mental Health Association has recently changed its name to Mental Health America.

Is this a good time for ATRA to consider a name change? I am ready to change to ARTA. How about you?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Good Resource for RT Curriculum Reform

I recently ran across what may be a great resource for those who will be setting guidelines/standards for RT education. It is Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality, published in 2003 by the Institute of Medicine through the National Academic Press, Washington, DC.

The publication resulted from the Institute of Medicine's Health Professions Educaton Summit. A competency-based approach is called for with a core set of competencies involving patient-centered care, interdisciplinary teams, evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and informatics.

Copies of the report are available from the National Academic Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; or http://www/nap.edu

Friday, December 15, 2006

Seven Toughest Interview Questions

This morning I ran across a article on the web titled "Answering the Seven Toughest Interview Questions." It was written by Kate Lorenz, the editor of CareerBuilder.com

I thought the article might be of interest to both RT professionals and students -- so I am passing on the highlights of it on the RT Blog. Below are the seven questions with tips borrowed from Ms. Lorenz on how to answer them.

(1) What are your weaknesses? Take a potential weekness and turn it into a plus...such as: "I'm very detail orientated and for some positions that might not be a good fit. But for this RT position, I think it is a trait that will serve me well."

(2) How would you solve this problem? It is recommended that you be brief in your answer, not providing great detail.

(3) Why did you leave your last job? Put a positive spin on your answer. "The facility just wasn't a good fit for my innovative personality. What I learned is that organizations have distinct personalities just like people do. Now I want to concentrate my job search on facilities that value independent thinking and will allow me to prosper in that environment."

(4) Why do you want to work here? You'll need to have homeworked the potential employer to anwser this. For instance, "I want to be a part of an organization that takes a caring approach with patients. Not all facilities really do care. I know from the reputation of your facility that you truly do care about the patients here." Another reply for a student seeking an internship might be: "Some of the very best senior therapists work here. As someone doing an internship, I'd like to learn from the best."

(5) Tell me about yourself. As Lorenz wrote: "This is your chance for you to shine -- but not to tell your life history. Begin by listing your traits and accomplishments you feel are relevant for the position. Don't delve into personal information unless it relates to the position you are vying for."

(6) Tell me about the worst boss you ever had. Lorenz suggests: "Take the high road and don't give into the temptation to vent any past frustrations." Say something like, "While none of my past bosses were awful, there are some who taught me more than others did."

(7) What are your goals? Lorenz suggests "This is best answered by reiterating your objective statement on your resume."

I hope these interview questions will prove to be helpful -- especially to RT students who are seeking internships or first positions. Best of success!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Aromatherapy Resource

A few years ago an RT told me a story about having one of her female nursing home clients use hand lotion with lavender. Just this one change remarkably reduced the client's aggression.

This so impressed me that I made sure that aromatherapy was included as a facilitation technique in my book, Therapeutic Recreation Processes and Techniques (5th edition).

Yesterday, while at the IU Med Center Bookstore, I found another resource on aromatherapy. I thought I should pass it on to others. It is a 4-page laminated resource by Permacharts. For $3.95 a wealth of information is provided on aromatherapy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Big Picture on Curriculum Reform on RT Blog

There has been a great deal of discussion about RT curriculum reform on the RT Blog. Below are some posts that have appeared.

A post on April 16, 2006, "Lack of RT Curriculum Reform," called for the need for curriculum reform at the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. levels. On May 31, 2006, was a post "MS in OT Required in 2007," which suggested that universities need to set minimum standards for RT master's degrees and to begin to discuss making the master's degree a minimum educational requirement for RT. On August 14, 2006, a post "Positive Psychology Books You Should Know About," appeared that indicated resources on the topic of positive psychology.

I mention these as "food for thought" for those involved with RT curriculum reform. Four major points emerge from the RT Blog posts: (1) There has been a lack of RT curriculum reform at the entry-level (that hopefully will soon be addressed); (2) In addition to including current practice competencies, new areas such as positive psychology, need to be included in curriculum requirements. (3) RT educators must begin to look beyond entry-level requirements to address master's degree requirements -- and to start to look at the master's degree as the entry-level degree for RT; and (4) Universities preparing those with Ph.D. degrees need to jointly take a look at their curricula with the intent of improving them.

Curriculum Needs to Include Preparation in Physical Activity

It is great that RT educators are moving forward with entry-level curriculum reform. In current curricula, one area that has not received the emphasis it needs is training in physical activity.

There have been a number of posts on the RT Blog on the topic of physical activity and RT. A June 18, 2006, post was titled "Great! Training in Physical Activity." On July 12, 2006, was a post "JAMA Article on Activity for Older Adults" that indicated the benefits of physical activity on the health of older adults. On November 24, 2006, there appeared a post "Book that Should be of Interest to RTs," which mentioned a chapter on exercise as an outlet to anxiety in the book Natural Relief for Anxiety. A November 26, 2006, post, "Exercise Increases Brain Size of Older Adults," reported on research from the University of Illinois on the positive value of exercise on the brains of older adults. Also, on November 26th was a post titled "Waltzing to Health Research" which indicated reserach had shown the positive effects of dance on the health of patients who had heart problems. On November 27, 2006, there was a post "Obesity and Persons with Mental Illness" that discussed the problem of obesity among those with mental illness.

I hope those involved in RT curriculum reform will take a look at these posts that indicate the value of physical activity in health protection and health promotion -- and therefore see the need to train RT students in the area of physical activity.

Another source of information on the topic is the chapter titled "A Call for Training in Physical Activity" that appeared in Austin, Dattilo and McCormick's Conceptual Foundations for Therapeutic Recreation (pp. 225 - 234).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Survey on Stress and Coping

Mental Health America has released the results of a survey of what causes Americans stress and how they cope with the stress. Of particular interest to RTs will be the findings related to how people cope with stress. The leading way to cope (82%) was to watch TV, read, or listen to music. Talking to family and friends was second (71%). For complete results, go to http://www.nmha.org/go/about-us/pressroom/news-releases/news-releases/nov-16-2006-americans-reveal-top-stressors-how-they-cope

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mental Health America

The old National Mental Health Association has changed its name. The new name is Mental Health America. The new name is meant to reflect an interest in the promotion of wellness as well as the provision of treatment. The web address for Mental Health America is http://www.nmha.org//

Portraits of Pioneers in TR Available

I just received an announcement from the Indiana University Library that the video titled "Portraits of Pioneers in Therapeutic Recreation" is available through the I.U. Library. The program was produced through I.U.'s Recreation Therapy Video (RTV) Project. Featured are RT pioneers such as Fred Humphrey, Ira Hutchinson, Gerald O'Morrow, and Carol Peterson. "Portraits" is held in the HPER Library on I.U.'s Bloomington campus. The catalog number is RM736.7 .P67 20003b. If I am not mistaken, I.U.'s Library has both videotape and DVD versions.

Laughter Yoga

Recently newspaper stories appeared in our local papers on laughter yoga. These articles reported on this new approach developed by Dr. Madan Kataria, an Indian physician. Laughter yoga combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing to release tension.

The articles mention that Jeffrey Briar has founded the Laughter Yoga Institute in Laguna Beach. I found a couple of web sites that RTs may wish to check out to learn more about laughter yoga. They are http://www.laughteryoga.us and http://www.laughteryoga.org

Friday, December 01, 2006

On Grading

One of the things I least liked about university teaching was having do grade students. First, it took a lot of time -- often reading work that was not of the standard I had desired. Second, even though I worked hard to be fair, there were always some student complaints about their grades.

I would guess most faculty would express similar feelings about grading. I was therefore pleased to see a recent article on grading that may prove helpful to university RT faculty. The title of the article is "For the 'Grader' Good -- Considering What You Grade and Why." It appears in the November, 2006, issue of the Observer (pp. 33 - 37) which is published by the Association for Psychological Science.

Some of the questions addressed in the "Grader Good" article are: (a) How can we use grades to motivate students? (b) What Can We Grade? (c) How should we compute the final grade? (d) How can we protect ourselves from grade disagreements? While written for teachers of psychology, the article has much that may be applied by RT instructors.