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, May 28, 2013

An Interesting Quote for RTs

"The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong." Swami Vivekananda

In Case You Missed the Lessons Learned Announcement

New Book Announcement from Sagamore Publishing, LLC

Lessons Learned: An Open Letter to Recreational Therapy Students and Practitioners
David R. Austin, Ph.D.

Description: Lessons Learned provides a personalized approach and a fresh, bold guide for students and practitioners in recreational therapy. This thought-provoking, inspiring, and accessible text will help the next generation of recreational therapists to find purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in their own lives and to bring health and happiness to their clients.

Understanding Recreational Therapy
1 Recreational Therapy is a Lot More than Diversion!
2 Our Mission Includes Health Promotion
3 What Makes RT Therapeutic?
4 Do You Know Who We Are?
5 Recreational Therapists Need a Philosophy of Practice
6 The Importance of Recreation and Leisure

Approaches to Recreational Therapy
7 Recreational Therapists Use a Strength-Based Approach
8 Client Strengths Include Traits and Resources
9 Recreational Therapy is Action Oriented, but the Emphasis is on the Client and Not on the Activity
10 Recreation and Leisure Activities Offer Fun with a Purpose
11 The Therapeutic Relationship is at the Heart of Recreational Therapy
12 Recreational Therapy Offers a Unique, Caring Atmosphere
13 Recreational Therapy is Customized Care
14 Recreational Therapy as a Dress Rehearsal for Life

Conceptual Foundations for Recreational Therapy
15 The WHO Definition of Health and Its Acceptance by Recreational Therapists
16 Carl Rogers: The Grandfather of Recreational Therapy
17 Positive Psychology and Recreational Therapy
18 Freud and Skinner Weren’t Completely Wrong

Working With Groups
19 The New Recreational Therapist’s Anxiety in Group Leadership
20 Recreational Therapy Groups Offer Participants Numerous Benefits
21 Group Processing Should Be Regularly Completed with RT Groups
22 Techniques When Clients Don’t Participate in Group Discussions
23 Get a Background in Group Dynamics, Because You’ll Need It

The Recreational Therapist
24 Recreational Therapists are Models for Clients
25 Is Recreational Therapy an Art or a Science, or Both?
26 Enthusiasm
27 Extroversion
28 Dare to Share
29 Learn to Relax
30 Value Values
31 Gaining Cultural Competence
32 Maintaining Confidentiality
33 Burnout
34 Why Clients Like RTs: The Norm of Reciprocity
35 Clinical Supervision
36 Self-Awareness
37 Being a Team Player
38 Being Professional
39 Being an Advocate for Our Profession

Techniques for Recreational Therapists
40 Learning by Doing
41 It’s Good to Give Feedback
42 When Clients Change
43 Engage Your Clients
44 Aggression Begets Aggression
45 Use Self-Disclosure Sparingly and in a Timely Fashion
46 Be Supportive of Clients
47 The Use of Gimmicks Can Be Good
48 Employ and Foster Intrinsic Motivation
49 Here and Now
50 Build Self-Esteem
51 Leisure Counseling
52 Activities Spur Conversation
53 Use Touch Therapeutically
54 Therapeutic Communication Skills Are Not Esoteric
55 My Favorite Approaches to Effective Listening
56 Top Teaching Principles

Social Psychology and Recreational Therapy
57 Recreational Therapists as Applied Social Psychologists
58 The Overjustification Effect
59 Self-Efficacy: Why Some Clients Try and Others Don’t
60 Social Facilitation
61 Self-Handicapping
62 Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
63 Learned Helplessness

What to Do and Not Do as an RT
64 Evidence-Based Research: A Concept RT Should Embrace
65 Say “Yes” to RT Research
66 Never Become Sexual with Clients
67 Never Become Anti-Intellectual
68 (Almost) Never Make Choices for Clients
69 Cherish the Opportunity to do Recreational Therapy

What people are saying about this book:

“I think this is a 5-star/ must-read book for any student in a TR/RT degree program or recreational therapist. If you've not done so already -- read this book.” -Danny Pettry, CTRS

“It is a short and readable introduction to recreational therapy where you feel the "fire and enthusiasm" from a professional with many years of experience.” -Joav Merrick, MD, MMedSci, DMSc, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Kentucky Children’s Hospital, & University of Kentucky

"I am using Lessons Learned in my foundations of TR class this semester. I require the students to read 6 lessons every week, and I have a quiz each week on one or more parts of what they have read. It is a positive addition to the other TR books I use. Lessons Learned has given the students in my course some very good first hand information and I think it makes it easier for them to relate to things they do and see in their volunteer experiences." -Joe Wilson, Ed.D., CTRS, CPRP, University of Northern Iowa

“The outstanding features of this text include personal insight by Dr. Austin based on decades of his passion for recreational therapy; 69 lessons (chapters) that cover a breadth of issues that all practitioners encounter during the course of their careers; and the manner in which the lessons are written provides an opportunity for readers to feel that it is written specifically for them from someone in the know.” -Victoria Dawn Shelar, Ph.D., CTRS, Middle Tennessee State University

“This is an excellent read – every recreation therapist, either starting out or a veteran, should read this wonderful book.” -Charlie Dixon, CTRS, Therapeutic Recreation Directory


Price: $17.96
Size: 7 x 10, Paperback, 147 pp
Copyright: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-57167-582-8
Lessons Learned is also available in eBook format via Sagamore Publishing for $13.00 and Amazon.com.

A Quote I Personally Buy Into!

"Age doesn't matter, unless you're cheese." John Paul Getty

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Disability.gov Quote of the Day

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Enjoyed Speaking at CTRA Annual Conference

The old Hoosier RT (aka David Austin) really enjoyed the opportunity to speak at the Candian Therapeutic Recreation Association (CTRA) Annual Conference earlier this month in Montreal. The Canadian RTs have a great deal of positive energy. I very much apprecited the chance to interact with Canadian colleagues.

TRJ Call for Editor

Therapeutic Recreation Journal has issued a call for Editor.

Call for Editors

The ATRA Board of Directors is pleased to announce a

Call for Editor(s) for the Annual in Therapeutic Recreation, the research journal of the

American Therapeutic Recreation Association.

Qualifications include:

• One or more individuals may be named as editor/co-editors.
• All editors/co-editors must be an active professional member of the Association, and a CTRS, at the time of appointment and remain in active status for the duration of the editorship.
• The editor/co-editors should be recognized scholars in the therapeutic recreation profession and have extensive editorial experience serving as an editor and/or associate editor for the Annual or other comparable scholarly journal(s).
• The editor/co-editors may not serve as editors of other journals simultaneously with their Annual co-editorship.

If you have questions, please contact Diane Skalko, ATRA President.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Exercise is Medicine Month!

I just read that May is "Exercise is Medicine Month." Seeing this reminded me of the large amount of research that I found on the benefits exercise and physical activity when reviewing the literature for the facilitation techniques chapter for the 7th edition of my book Therapeutic Recreation Processes and Techniques: Evidence-Based Recreational Therapy (to be published this fall by Sagamore Publishing). There is especially a great deal of research related to the positive outcomes to be gained by persons with chronic conditions from exercise and physical activity.

Position Opening for CTRS in Oregon

From Michael S. Ratliff, CTRS:
I have a wonderful job posting to announce. http://goo.gl/8feBw This is a great opportunity for a Recreational Therapist.

We have seven current openings for Rehabilitation Therapists in our forensic programs, as our department continues to expand. Your CTRS qualifies you for these positions! Come work for a world-class forensic psychiatric hospital! During your off time, come play in Oregon’s world class outdoor recreation hotspots! We are an hour from the ocean, an hour from the mountains, and an hour from the cosmopolitan city of Portland! Find that rewarding job that utilizes the clinical skills you trained so hard to gain and enjoy the recreation we know is so important to a fulfilling life. Oregon State Hospital can give you access to it all.

We need your expertise and clinical skills as a Recreational Therapist. You would benefit from joining our team. Our Treatment Mall model really utilizes the APIE process and evidence based practices. Our outcome measurements show the efficacy of our RT interventions. Recreational Therapy is highly valued throughout the hospital. You could experience some of the most interesting caseloads through you work on our Inter-disciplinary Treatment Teams. We offer excellent leadership training and experience. Our Recreational Therapists have served on both the national and local ATRA boards. We also produce our own annual Therapeutic Recreation Forum, a workshop delivering .6 CEUs.

Please, contact me for more information or go ahead and apply at http://goo.gl/8feBw.

Michael S. Ratliff, CTRS
Director of Therapeutic Recreation
2600 Center St NE B02-310 C-27
Salem, Oregon 97301-2682

Salem Office: (503) 945-2967,
Portland: (503) 731-3058 (Mondays and Thursdays)

Disability.gov Quote of the Day

"The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong." Swami Vivekananda

Monday, May 13, 2013

Particpating in CTRA Annual Conference

Heading North tomorrow to speak at the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Associaton (CTRA) Annual Conference in Montreal. This will be the fourth time I've spoken in Canada and each time I have really enjoyed the experience. Our Canadian couterparts are great professionals. They are enthuiastic about RT and are anxious to develop RT in Canada. It should be great fun interacting with the Canadian RTs.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

FIU Online Degree Program Announced

From Dr. Alexis McKenney, CTRS:
Greetings from Miami, Florida. I'm happy to announce that the Florida International University (FIU) Recreational Therapy (RT) program has gone live with its new online degree program. The website is now up and running and admissions has begun for our first class. After years of negotiating how to set tuition rates, we finally agreed to a market rate for each three-credit course. Because of this, we will not be charging out of state tuition or adding fees for athletics, health, parking, etc. Although we are primarily set up for students who are ready to transfer in from two-year colleges, because of the increasing number of students declaring RT as their major as freshmen, we are providing support for those students, as well. Online staff members are now available by email, phone, or online chat by visiting:


For more information about the FIU RT Program, please visit: www.fiu.edu/~rt or www.rtprogram.com.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions:

Dr. Alexis McKenney, CTRS
Recreational Therapy Program
Florida International University
MMC, ZEB 313, Miami, FL 33199

Phone: 305-348-3905
Fax: 305-348-1515

A Good Quote from Disability.gov

A good thought for a strength-based approach:

"Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well." Josh Billings

Friday, May 10, 2013

Disability.gov Quote of the Day

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Friedrich Nietzsche

Monday, May 06, 2013

National Nurses Week

This is "National Nurses Week." Please express appreciation to all nurses!

Mental Health Month

May is "Mental Health Month."

Friday, May 03, 2013

Now Here is a Month That I Can Relate to!

This May, we mark the 50th anniversary of Older Americans Month.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

7th Edition of Widely Used Textbook to be Published

I want to let everyone know that a new edition of my book (David R. Austin) is to be published by Sagamore Publishing this fall: Below is a description of the book taken from the Sagamore Publishing website. The book's online price will be $62.95.

The seventh edition of Therapeutic Recreation Processes and Techniques has been extensively updated and revised in order to offer a sound knowledge base, current techniques, and the latest evidence upon which to base practice. In fact, the subtitle, Evidence-Based Recreational Therapy, has been added to emphasize the importance of evidence-based practice in recreational therapy. Today recreational therapists must possess a broad knowledge base that offers them a foundation for practice. This book explores how to practice recreational therapy yet provides theoretical and empirical evidence to support practice.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

IU Adding RT Faculty

I learned today that Indiana University's RT Program will be adding two excellent instructors in the fall. Hope Bryan McCormick will announce them soon.

Disability.gov Quote of the Day

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." Alan Kay