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.

Monday, July 31, 2006

How About ARTA?

My wife and I just returned from vacation. We met our daughter's family at Dollywood. All of us were pleased by our experience at Dollywood -- especially our grandson, Xander! We would recommend visiting if you have kids.

In this post, I want to return to the notion of our profession adopting the term recreation therapy (or recreational therapy), rather than therapeutic recreation. And I would like to make a specific recommendation.

There seems to be a consensus building that: (a) The term therapeutic recreation is confusing to people outside the profession; (b) There is a need to clearly distinguish between inclusive recreation and recreation therapy; (c) It is time to consider adopting the term recreation therapy (or recreational therapy).

Finally, as Sharon stated, the time has come for our profession to truly clarify how we define ourselves. Employing the term recreation therapy would do this. Therefore, I would propose that ATRA become ARTA in order to focus us on health protection and health promotion (in contrast to supplying recreation experiences for persons with disabilities).

What do you think? If you have an opinion on changing to ARTA, please post your comment or let ATRA President Bryan McCormick know of your view. It would be good to see some discussion on this issue by the members and Board at ATRA in Orlando.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Helpful RT Resources on the Web

Over the years, I made a number of visits to campuses across the USA. I made 18 visits alone for the Council on Accreditation. One thing that almost always came up during my visits was a need to build the RT library collection. Unfortunately, at the time, I really didn't have a source to refer those seeking RT resources. Happily, for those who may wish to have a source to know of RT resources, such as available books, there is now a place to go.

A Guide to Therapeutic Recreation Resources has been developed by the Indiana University Library. It is a web page that lists RT books, journals, data bases, etc., etc. The RT resource site was developed by the staff of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Library at IU.

The Guide can be reached off the IU TR web pages -- where other RT resources may be found such as a list of RT videos. To reach the Guide, click on "Related Websites" on the main page of the IU TR web site. Then under the Related Websites, see "Library Resources." The address for the IU TR web pages is: http://www.indiana.edu/~iutr/

Professors working on fall courses or practitioners wanting RT resources will likely find A Guide to Therapeutic Recreation Resources and the IU TR web pages to be good resources.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Madison RT Workshop a Success

I just returned from Madison, Indiana, where the Madison RT Workshop was held the past two days. The Workshop is hosted each year by the RT staff at Madison State Hospital. As in the past, the MSH staff were wonderful hosts.

The Workshop was very well attended. RTs from all over Indiana participated -- from as far north as Elkhart (near the Michigan border) and as far south as Evansville (across the Ohio River from Kentucky). Outside of Madison, the largest contingencies came from Greenwood and Jeffersonville. One of the members of the Jeffersonville group was an intern from BYU.

The sessions were well received by those attending and it was great to get to see a number of friends. The Madison RT Workshop also provided all of us an opportunity to again visit the charming city of Madison. Of course, many went to Shipley's Tavern to enjoy a famous "Shipley Burger." Over the years, visits to Shipley's and the Broadway Inn and Tavern (the oldest tavern in Indiana) have become a ritual for Workshop goers. I hope you will one day have the opportunity to attend the Madison RT Workshop as it never fails to please.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

JAMA Article on Daily Activity for Older Adults

An article appeared today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that: "Objectively measured free-living activity energy expenditure was strongly associated with lower risk of mortality in healthy older adults. Simply expending energy through any activity may influence survival in older adults" (bold added, p. 171). Further, the researchers concluded, "Efforts to increase or maintain free-living activity energy expeniture will likely improve the health of older adults" (bold added, p. 178).

RTs have long known that physical activity doesn't have to be strenuous in order for it to be beneficial. Today's research provides scientific evidence to support that notion. This new research should encourage RTs to provide physical activity programs for older clients. The research is also one more piece of evidence that should lead universities to the conclusion that they must prepare their graduates in RT with a basic background in the provision of physical activities.

I would urge RTs and RT educators to read the article. Perhaps RT researchers will want to do a follow-up study with older clients in RT programs. (Are you reading this Carmen?) The reference is Manini, Todd M. et. al, Daily activity energy expenditure and mortality among older adults. JAMA. Vol. 296, No. 2, pp. 171 - 179.

Monday, July 10, 2006

National RT Week July 9 - 15, 2006

Happy National Recreation Therapy Week! National Recreation Therapy Week is being celebrated July 9 -15, 2006. This is the time to let others know about RT. ATRA offers "Over 101 Ways of Publicizing and Promoting RT" on its web site. Go to http://www.atra-tr.org/101ways.htm

Follow-Up to July 7th Post on More Enjoyment

This is the promissed follow-up to the July 7th post on the Observer article "Make Your Teaching and Your Life More Enjoyable." An alternative title might have been "Avoiding Burnout."

The first tip was "Try a New Approach to Your Teaching." I had mentioned a couple of suggested new approaches in teaching. The first of these was to put some fun into your classes. The second was to experience life as a student. Three other teaching approaches that were provided in the article were: (a) Rearrange your teaching schedule to teach at different times or to make class sessions different lengths from what you have been teaching (e.g., from three 45 minute sessions to one 2 hour and 15 minute session.); (b) Change class assignments such as the type of presentations or topics for term papers; and (c) Change your mode of delivery -- say from hi tech to low tech for a day. Or you may ask students to give you specific feedback on your teaching -- or add a field trip -- or team-teach a course --or to change textbooks (but not a good idea if using an Austin text :-)

Remaining tips from the article are appropriate for all RTs -- not just profs. The second general tip is "Take Advantage of New Opportunities." Under this tip are: (a) To take a sabbatical leave or attend an interesting short course. If a university or agency offers sabbaticals -- you would be nuts not to take advantage of it. The sabbatical is a wonderful benefit not to be denied. In terms of taking a course, one of my best experiences at IU was auditing Jim Sherman's attitudes course. It brought me up-to-date on attitudes research and theory -- and taking the course also made me a tougher teacher since I had seen the heavy reading load in Jim's assignments to his grad students taking the course; (b) To collaborate with colleagues on a research project is a great idea. It makes research more interesting and more fun -- and, I believe, generally leads to a stronger study because of the individual strengths of the research team members. Practitioners can collaborate with university faculty; (c) To attend conferences is one of the best ways to become energized. I think every RT should plan to attend at least a couple of conferences or workshops each year.

I'll save the final tips of "Taking Better Care of Yourself," "Spending More Time with People," "Improving Your Work Environment," and "Minimizing Negative Experiences" for a later post. Again, if you want to check the article out for yourself, the information is in the June, 2006, issue of the Observer.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Madison RT Workshop Thursday and Friday

I'm looking forward to the Madison RT Workshop to be held this Thursday and Friday (July 13 & 14) at Madison State Hospital in Madison, Indiana. The Madison RT Workshop has been going on for a number of years and has become a sort of annual summer reunion for many Hoosier RTs. It is a great time to see old friends and make some new ones. And a plus is that the workshop occurs in a beautiful setting. Madison is a charming Ohio River city to visit. I'll let you know how it goes this year.

Follow-Up on July 7th Post on Teaching with Humor

Some ways to get humor into courses appeared in a box in the Monitor article mentioned in my July 7th post. With a little imagination, the ideas for courses can easily be applied to conference presenations. Here they are: (a) Make the syllabus funny. For example, insert a description under a course title like "the grestest class you'll ever take." Or list office hours for one of your days "from 12 to 12:01 PM." I'll be you can do better than these examples. (b) Use real or hypothetical humorous situations such as cartoons or TV clips to illustrate points. (c) Ask punch-line qestions during question and anwwer sessions. For example, set up a joke by asking a question and after getting a response ask, "How many of you think this is the correct answer?" Then add the punch, "How many of you don't care?" or "How many of you don't like to be awakedned during class?" (d) Make questions and examples outrageous, ridiculous or exaggerated. I'm sure you can use some true stories from RT incidents to employ this tip! (e) Dramatize your material. Here the suggestion is to "Develop skits or demonstrations with music to illustrate theories, concepts, or processes." As I prepare this post, the thought in the back of my mind is that ideas, such as these presented, may be most valuable because they lead to even more creative notions being developed by the reader.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Another Good Article for RT Profs (& Other RTs)

"Make Your Teaching and Your Life More Enjoyable" is a Teaching Tips article that appeared in the June, 2006, issue of the Association for Psychological Science's Observer (Vol. 10, No. 6). While written for professors, the article contains a number of ideas that all RTs can use to avoid burnout.

The first step suggested is to Try a New Approach to Your Teaching. But for RTs this step could easily be titled "Try a New Approach to Your Interventions." The first tip under this step is to "Include something in each class period that is fun for you and your students." One way I've done this is to use cartoons but the main thing is to do something enjoyable. You can see how this applies to doing RT groups.

The second tip is to "Experience life as a student." Attending lectures or presentations on a topic you know very little about and taking notes is an illustration. Another idea is to write a paper you have assigned to your students. The authors suggest that as a result you may use the board more, speak more slowly, or reemphasize major points. Again, RTs can translate this into doing sessions with clients -- for example, sitting in on another therapist's group. Much of what RTs do is teaching clients new ways to act, think, or feel so teaching concepts can be easily applied with RT groups.

The article goes on to explain other teaching approaches such as rearranging the teaching schedule, changing assignments, and changing the mode of delivery. I'll save these new approaches to teaching for another post. I'll also save other suggested steps to making your teaching and life more enjoyable including: taking advantage of opportunities; taking better care of yourself; spending more time with people; improving your work environment; and minimizing negative experiences. If you don't want to wait for my posts, you may want to go to the Observer article.

Profs: Heads Up to Laughing & Learning

The June, 2006, issue of APA's Monitor on Psychology contains an interesting article titled "How Laughing Leads to Learning." This quote from Mark Shatz, of Ohio University - Zanesville, captures the essence of the article: "Professors' jobs are to educate, not to entertain. But if humor can make the learning process more enjoyable, then I think everybody benefits as a result."

I'll plan to pass along some of the tips from the article in future posts. There are many good ideas that should find their way into RT classrooms or be used during conference presentations.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Strong ATRA Slate includes Voelkl

I just received my ATRA ballot. The slate is one of the strongest that I can recall. To me, such a strong slate reflects the current strength of ATRA. I was particularly pleased to see one of my past students, Judi Voelkl, is running for the Board. Judi is currently co-editor of ATRA's Annual in Therapeutic Recreation and has become a leading figure in RT. I would encourage ATRA members to take a close look at Judi's credentials when voting.