Therapeutic leisure (commonly also referred to as therapeutic recreation or recreation therapy) has been defined by Anderson and Heyne (2012) as:
“The purposeful and careful facilitation of quality leisure experiences and the development of personal and environmental strengths, which lead to greater well-being for people who, due to illness, disability, or other life circumstances, need individualized assistance to achieve their goals” (p. 39).
A therapeutic recreation specialist (TRS) uses a process which includes assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation to assist clients/participants in reaching their goals.
Based on a whole-person approach to well-being and grounded in the health care field, therapeutic recreation/leisure involves this four-step process, facilitated by a skilled specialist, aimed at helping you achieve the highest levels of well-being across all areas of your life.
Wellness, often depicted as a wheel, includes your physical, intellectual/cognitive, leisure, social, emotional, environmental, and spiritual facets of your life. Some practitioners of wellness also include occupational and financial well-being.
A therapeutic recreation specialist (TRS) will use many strategies to help you reach higher levels of well-being and improved quality of life. These include a non-judgmental framework, listening skills, motivational interviewing, leisure education, leisure appreciation, SMART goal setting, appreciative inquiry, and assessment of your readiness to make positive changes.
Typically and historically, therapeutic recreation has been practiced in hospitals, health agencies and facilities, residential programs, community centers focused on mental health, adult day care, behavioral health, hospice care, parks and recreation departments, and school settings (ATRA-online.com).
Recently, the field of therapeutic recreation has been changing course and focusing more intentionally on the whole person; using a strengths based approach – leaving the medical model of diagnoses, prescriptive advice, and the mindset of needing to “fix your problems” for a more holistic, ecological, person-centered experience.
During my education, I developed my own philosophy of leisure, recreation, and well-being. This philosophy lies at the base of InnerVision Wellness LLC. Based on the goals of my practice in working with individuals like you, I have chosen to use the term therapeutic leisure rather than therapeutic recreation. However, practices remain true to the therapeutic recreation process and I abide by the ethical standards of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA).
It is the philosophy of InnerVision Wellness that leisure is more than a recreational activity. Leisure is a state of being which can be implemented as a means for personal growth.
According to Austin (2009), leisure as an experience can lead to increased self-efficacy, self-determination, and self-empowerment, each of which contribute to your greater well-being and quality of life, helping you move toward greater self-awareness and self-actualization.
In 1952, philosopher Josef Pieper said it most eloquently:
Leisure is “an attitude of mind, a condition of the soul.”
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Anderson, L., & Heyne, L. (2012). Therapeutic recreation practice: A strengths approach. State College, PA: Venture.
Austin, D. R. (2009). Therapeutic recreation: Processes and techniques (6th ed.). Champaign, IL: Sagamore.
Pieper, J. (1952). Leisure: The basis of culture. New York: New American Library.