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?