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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Opening for RT at LaRue Carter

IU alum, Laurie Lee, CTRS, is a rec therapist at LaRue Carter Hospital in Indianapolis. She recently sent out an announcement of an opening at her hospital over the Recreation Therapists of Indiana listserve.

LaRue Carter is the psychiatric hospital associated with the Medical School at Indiana University. The position opening is for a full-time recreation therapist with the hospital's youth service.

The position will be posted until March 8, 2007. Those interested should visit the Indiana State job bank or call LaRue Carter Hospital at 317-941-4000. If calling, ask for Todd Peters.

Words to Ponder in Regard to Accrediation

I recently ran across a copy of a talk by Lee Meyer published in the 1977 proceedings of the 1st New England Therapeutic Recreation Institute. Lee said: "There were many opinions about the 1966 merger which formed the National Therapeutic Recreation Society (within NRPA). Some felt that this was a 'marriage of expediency,' others labelled it an 'unforgivable compromise.' "

As we now debate RT accreditation and if it should be a part of the Council on Accreditation (administered by NRPA), I think we today could run the risk of selecting a "marriage of expediency" or an "unforgivable compromise" in becoming a part of COA. Just a thought.

Higher Ed Marketeers Fail to Use Media

Campus Technology's News Update for February 27, 2007 reported:

"Despite the wave of social media such as FaceBook, blogs, and instant messaging invading higher ed campuses, fewer than 8 percent of higher-ed marketers use such alternative channels to reach prospective students, according to a recent survey by advertising and marketing firm Media Logic Inc.

Instead, e-mail is their application of choice--a medium that is being ignored by students. Among the findings from the survey of 120 higher education marketers, Media Logic reported that 95 percent have e-mail marketing in place, and 62 percent are using e-marketing to target alumni. But less than half are using e-marketing to reach current students, faculty, community, corporate, and other constituents."

Reading this survey data made me wonder if university RT programs are using FaceBook, blogs, and instant messaging or any kind of e-marketing to reach potential or current students. I also wonder how much university RT programs are using eletronic media to reach out to alums and agencies.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Connolly Scholarship Applications Due in March

Dawn De Vries, at the ATRA Office, recently put out a reminder that the deadline for the Peg Connolly Scholarship program is quickly approaching – and is approximately 5 weeks away. Faculty should encourage your students to consider applying.

The 2007 Peg Connolly Scholarship application is now available, and can be found at: http://www.atra-tr.org/conference/pegannouncement.htm. The application deadline is March 30, 2007.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Curriculum Ideas Needed from RT Practitioners

Within ATRA, an active debate continues on: (a) how to move with RT accreditation ; and (b) what should be contained in university RT curricula. It is time for RT practitioners, who are engaged in practice, to speak up.

The accreditation question revolves not so much as to whether there should be accreditation of university RT professional preparation programs but who should conduct the accreditation program. One side says it should be the Council on Accrediation (COA) , administered by the National Recreation and Park Association. The COA program has a core of parks and recreation competencies and then treats RT as a subspecialization. The other position is that RT, as a health care profession, should have its own separate accreditation program.

The curriculum question asks exactly what those completing RT degrees should know and be able to do. What kinds of courses and competencies do RTs need?

If you are a practitioner, I would invite you to comment on this post. What do you think about accreditation and curriculum? I'm sure many regular readers of the RT Blog will want to know your views. And I'll be glad to see your comments are forwarded on to those working on accreditation/curriculum. Please let us hear from you. To enter your ideas, just click comments below.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Leisure Education Brochure

The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) has produced a new brochure titled "Discover LeisureEducation." The brochure is aimed at parents of children with disabilities. The well designed brochure covers the benefits of play and leisure, among other topics. Print copies of the brochure are available from NCPAD and it is also on the web at http://www.ncpad.org/get/discoverleisure/

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Older Americans & Need for Training in Physical Activity

The CDC has reported that by 2030, the number of older Americans will have more than doubled to 70 million, or one in every five Americans. Although the risk of chronic illness and disability clearly increases with advancing age, poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging.

Much of the illness, disability, and death associated with chronic disease is avoidable through known prevention measures, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. This is another reason why university RT curricula must train students about physical fitness and how to conduct physical activities.

RT Students, Douglas College & RT Video

A couple of students from Douglas College in Canada have made comments on the RT Blog. This is great as I really do enjoy hearing from RT students.

Hearing from the students made me curious about Douglas College so I went to their website. What I found there pleased me. First, there is a 15 minute video to interpret RT that was produced by the RT faculty at Douglas. Second, as a subtitle to the curriculum title of "Therapeutic Recreation," was "A Health Promotion Profession" -- which RT certainly is but doesn't promote to the extent I might hope.

If you want to view the RT video or just have a look at the Douglas College website, the address is http://www.douglas.bc.ca/programs/therapeutic-recreation.html

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Certification in Canada

Kristen, an RT student at Douglas College in Canada, is doing a paper on certification and, specifically certification in Canada. She asked me my opinion on the value of certification and if I saw it coming to Canada in the near future.

Certainly I am a strong advocate for certification. Having a certification program is a marker that: (a) displays the consumer is being served by professionals with at least minimum credentials; and (b) indicates a level of professionalization since the profession demands standards be met by those who practice in it.

Is certification coming to Canada? I wish I could answer that question. I would suggest that Kristen do an informal survey of some of the national leaders in RT in Canada to seek their opinions -- perhaps a quick email survey could be done. My guess, as an outsider, is that certification will come to Canada as I have seen a growing level of professionalization by Canadian RTs over the past 10 years or so.

Bob Riley, Director of the National Council on Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), is an excellent source of information on certification, as is Dr. Margaret "Peg" Connolly who was Dr. Riley's predecessor at NCTRC. Dr. Connolly is now on the RT faculty at Western Carolina University.

As you read this, if you have other resources for Kristen, please do leave a comment on this post.

Monday, February 12, 2007

MBTI Research

My last post was on using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to study RTs and RT students. I should also mention that the MBTI may also be used with clients since personality types have preferred leisure activities.

For example, ESFJs (see last post) in their leisure have been described as: "Warm-hearted and communicative, they tend to be popular and active in committees, church and volunteer activities, and other group efforts. They may enjoy celebrating holidays, family traditions, and gathering of friends, perhaps by planing and executing special occasions; they are often considered thoughful of others. ESFJs tend to enjoy sports that permit socializing. Other good play activities for them include choral music, casual volleyball, cooking classes or parties, and church activities." (from Judith A. Provost's (2001) book Work, Play and Type, p. 49).

Does this description remind you of anyone? Perhaps a coworker? Or even yourself? It well might because the ESFJ is the most popular personality type among RTs -- as it discussed in the prior post.

With leisure personality profiles available on all Myers-Briggs types, perhaps the MBTI would prove to be a useful instrument to use with clients. It may be that, at your facility, psychologists are already testing clients using the MBTI. If so, it would be important information to have for RT assessment.

A Research Idea

I recently ran across materials from a research study that a colleague and I reported on in Therapeutic Recreation Journal in 2000. The research was on the personality types of RT students using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It turned out that the primary personality type, by far, (24.7%) was ESFJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging). This was followed by ENFP at 19.2%. No other personality type reached double figures.

In case you are wondering, ESFJ types are enthusiastic, social, and personable individuals who like being helpful and like to feel needed and appreciated. ENFP types also enjoy helping others. They have traits such as being caring, generous, and friendly. They have a zest for life.

Knowing the personality types of RT students can be highly useful to both counseling potential students for possible careers in RT and to knowing what approaches are best in teaching students with the primary personality types.

Since publishing our results, I have often wondered why others did not conduct follow-up studies on the personality types of RTs and RT students. It is certainly an under studied area. Perhaps a student or faculty member looking for a research idea may want to take a look at researching personality types in RT.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Comment on RT Job Availability

I sometimes hear about a lack of RT openings. At the same time I see a number of position openings advertised (see my February 8, 2007, post for example on RTs openings in Indiana). Something just doesn't add up.

I was told recently that one psychiatric hospital had only 7 applicants for 2 RT openings. The relatively small number of applications would lead me to believe that there is not a shortage of jobs but a shortage of applicants.

Perhaps employers, ATRA, state RT associations, and universities all need to work harder at listing RT job openings. On the face of it, it appears that RTs and RT students are not getting information from the employers so they may apply in a timely fashion. What do you think?

Thanks Charlie Dixon for the TR Directory

For years, Charlie Dixon, MS, CTRS, has been making great contributions to our profession by publishing the Therapeutic Recreation Directory on the web and by distributing the Therapeutic Recreation Directory Newsletter. The Therapeutic Recreation Directory contains scores of resources for RTs, such as job listings, internship listings, activity ideas, and a listing of colleges and universities with RT/TR curricula. For those who haven't already added it to their list of favorites, the address for the Therapeutic Recreaton Directory is http://www.recreationtherapy.com/

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Loneliness and Alzheimer's

Researchers at Rush University in Chicago have found lonely people have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Their results revealed: "Risk of AD was more than doubled in lonely persons (score 3.2, 90th percentile) compared with persons who were not lonely (score 1.4, 10th percentile)...."

Thus, it appears that perceptions of loneliness are related to late-life dementia. RTs can certainly play a role in assisting elderly persons to maintain social networks and to remain socially active and this apparently may prevent AD from occuring.

The title of the Rush study is "Loneliness and Risk of Alzheimer Disease," authored by
Robert S. Wilson, PhD; Kristin R. Krueger, PhD; Steven E. Arnold, MD; Julie A. Schneider, MD; Jeremiah F. Kelly, MD; Lisa L. Barnes, PhD; Yuxiao Tang, PhD; David A. Bennett, MD. The study was published in the February, 2007, issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 64, pages234-240.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Recreation: Right or Reward?

Celia, a student at Douglas College in Canada, recently commented to the post "Students Using RT Blog." In her comment she mentions she is working on a paper on "Recreation: Right or Reward?" She asked me to provide my thoughts on the topic of her paper. So I thought I'd post my thoughts. So here goes.

First, most authorities agree that the term recreation is defined as intrinsic behavior. The leading researchers in the area of intrinsic motivation have been two psychologists, E.L. Deci and R.M. Ryan. I commend their work to anyone who want to study intrinsic motivation. They have authored a classic book on the topic with the title of Intrinsic motivation and self-determination.

The concepts of control and self-determination are central in much of my writings. My Health Protection/Health Promotion Model for RT practice certainly has self-direction and control as central features -- see Austin, D.R. (2004) Therapeutic Recreation Processes and Techniques (5th edition) for more information on the HP/HP Model.

In the prescriptive activities part of the HP/HP Model, motivation is primarily extrinsic with the intent of moving the client toward intrinsic motivation. In the recreation portion of the model the motivation is largely intrinsic as the therapist and client work together to select recreational activities that have therapeutic value. In the leisure portion of the model the client's motivation is intrinsic as he or she self determines health enhancing activities.

In my book, I write about the prescriptive activity portion, which is the initial part of a continuum that ranges from poor heatlh to optimal health. I have written: "Clients, at this time of threat to health, are not ready for recreation or leisure. For such individuals, activity becomes a necessary prerequisite to health restoration. In order to gain control over the situation and to overcome feelings of helplessness and depression, they must begin to actively engage in life. Prescriptive activity may be necessary in order to energize them so that they are not passive victims of their circumstances but begin to take action to restore their health" (p. 177).

The function of prescriptive activities is then to "combat patients' demoralization and heighten their hopes for relief" (Frank & Frank, 1991, p. 33). Thus prescriptive activities are a first step in helping clients to regain feelings of control over their lives. For a detailed discussion of the concept of control, please see the chapter "Control: A Major Element in Therapeutic Recreation" in Austin, Dattilo & McCormick's (2002) book titled Conceptual Foundations for Therapeutic Recreation. The chapter offers RTs ideas on how to help clients to regain control in their lives.

Thus, within my model, intrinsic motivation is something that is strived for but generally isn't present at the time when clients are in poor health. It is only when they move from the prescriptive activities portion of the continuun (when they are in poor health) into the recreation portion and, finally, to the leisure portion that intrinsic motivation is apparent.

In sum, to me, intrinsically motived recreation is something that everyone should have a right to experience. Yet, when persons are very sick, they may not feel they have the level of control to experience the self-determination necessary to enjoy true recreation. At this time of poor health they may require the outside assistance of the recreational therapist to help them toward restoring health (and a feeling of control).

I should go on to say that sometimes children (and some adults) are not fully ready to make mature self-determinations. My 4-year old grandson sometimes needs to have restrictions placed on him due to his behavior. For instance, if he chooses not to eat his food at dinner time he may lose priviledges such as playing with a valued toy. Of course, he has a choice to eat or not eat -- but he has to learn that they are consequences for behaviors and that he may lose priviledges if he makes bad decisions. In that sense, play or recreation is not a "right" because (as a child) he has not yet earned the right to self-determination.

So, in the end, recreation is a "right" for those who are mature enough to exercise intrinsic motivation. For those who are not ready to assume responsibility and control over their lives, perhaps recreation is not really a right they should expect.

At least that is what I think now -- of course (as Dennis Miller always concludes), I could be wrong! Thanks, Celia, for making me think. Best of luck with your paper!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Recreation Therapists Openings in Indiana

There have been a number of position openings recently listed in Indiana for recreation therapists and rehabilitation therapists (often recreation therapists work under the classification of rehabilitation therapists in Indiana). Openings for RT positions in state government facilities may be found at www.IndianaStateJobs.org

Heather Sedletzeck, CTRS, president of RT Solutions, Inc., has also announced a part-time position opening with her firm for a home based recreation therapist to work in Indianapolis. Heather may be contacted at healtherctrs@ma.rr.com or (812) 878-6872. The web site for Heather's firm is www.rtsolutionsinc.com

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Exercise and Disability

I ran across an article on the Mayo Clinic web site titled, "Exercise and disability: Physical activity is within your reach." The article provides exercise tips for persons with disabilities. In case you would like to read it, the web site for the article is: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/SM00042

Off of the "Exercise and Disability" article are links to two related articles. They are: "Fitness programs: 5 steps to get started" and "Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity."

I hope that recreational therapists are providing their clients with exercise programs as there are so many benefits -- such as "fighting" Parkinson's (see the previous post).

Punching Parkinson's

In the Healthy Living section of today's Indianapolis Star newspaper was an article titled, "Punching Parkinson's: Exercise makes a difference for patients with the disease." The article discusses a noncontact boxing class for men with Parkinson's. Part of the class involves punching a lifelike torso the men call "Parkie" for Parkinson's. The class instructor stated: "We call him Parkie. He deserves to be hit." The article explains that getting exercise is "extremely important for people with Parkinson's...." Dr. Joanne Wojcieszek, director of the Parkinson's Research Group at Indiana University stated in the article that: "I have seen exercise make a huge difference in the patients' lives."

In reading the article I wondered if any recreational therapists were running exercise programs for persons with Parkinson's. Such programs seem to have merit.