Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. These therapists use a variety of modalities, including arts and crafts; drama, music, and dance; sports and games; aquatics; and community outings to help maintain or improve a patient's physical, social, and emotional well-being.
Recreational therapists typically do the following:
Assess patients' needs through observations, medical records, tests, and discussions with other healthcare professionals, patients' families, and patients
Create treatment plans and programs that meet patients' needs and interests
Plan and implement interventions to prevent harm to a patient
Engage patients in therapeutic activities, such as exercise, games, and community outings
Help patients learn social skills needed to become or remain independent
Teach patients about ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression
Record and analyze a patient's progress
Evaluate interventions for effectiveness
Recreational therapists help people reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic physical and mental abilities; build confidence; and socialize effectively.
They use activities, such as arts and crafts, dance, or sports, to help their patients. For example, a recreational therapist can help a patient who is paralyzed on one side of their body by teaching them to adapt activities, like casting a fishing rod or swinging a golf club, by using their functional side.
Therapists often treat specific groups of patients, such as children with cancer. Therapists may use activities such as kayaking or a ropes course to teach patients to stay active and to form social relationships.
Recreational therapists help people with disabilities integrate into the community by teaching them how to use community resources and recreational activities. For example, therapists may teach a patient who uses a wheelchair how to use public transportation.
Therapists may also provide interventions for patients who need help developing social and coping skills. For example, a therapist may use a therapy dog to help patients manage their depression or anxiety.