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What is Therapeutic Recreation, and Why Is It So Beneficial?

Recreation and leisure are concepts we hear about on a regular basis, but do you completely understand the benefits of participating in activities that you love? Recreation activities have more of a positive impact than you think, especially when you make time for them regularly. Regardless of the activity, making time for leisure is actually quite beneficial for many areas in your life. Therapeutic Recreation is becoming a mainstream standard of care for individuals in hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, rehabilitation centres, and other healthcare environments. When recreation and leisure is used alongside traditional Western medicine, the client experiences a more well-rounded healing experience that enriches their life. Here, we will discuss the 5 areas in your life that can be positively impacted by Therapeutic Recreation.

To provide a better understanding of Therapeutic Recreation, one must have knowledge of the main principles of Therapeutic Recreation. This field of practice is guided by an innovative model of care that differs from traditional Western medical ideologies. Unlike current medical scopes of practice, Therapeutic Recreation uses a Strengths Based approach with all clients. This approach uses the client’s strengths and abilities as its guiding principle for creating a therapeutic healing experience through recreational activities. This guiding principle allows Therapeutic Recreation to enrich the lives of many individuals in the main 5 domains of leisure. These leisure domains are emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological, and social. In this post, we will discuss each domain a little further.

Firstly, the Emotional domain encompasses the emotional aspects of an individual. These range from a person’s ability to experience happiness, to reminiscing about past experiences that have a positive impact on the brain. Recreation Therapists often utilize a client’s emotional strengths to build a program that can encourage the client to become in-tune with that side of themselves. Certain activities can stimulate this domain, and allow for a therapeutic emotional experience. For example, a program that is based on the emotional domain could be a journaling exercise where the client is prompted to write about something that brings them joy, or a 1:1 conversation that allows for intrinsic self-perception. This domain is extremely important, especially when matched with traditional healing modalities.

Next up, we have the physical domain of leisure. This domain is exactly how it sounds; it is the domain that focuses on the physical body of the client. The physical aspect of medical care has been the focus for decades, but now, we are discovering so many new ways of which the physical body can be healed in addition to traditional medical practices. For instance, there are many activities within the field of Therapeutic Recreation that aim to help heal, improve, and maintain strength within the client’s body. Leisure activities like Zumba, Chair Yoga, dancing, and walking can have a positive impact on the body. Therapeutic Recreation is actually used as an additional tool to help rehabilitate clients alongside traditional therapies after an injury or surgery. Therapeutic Recreation is becoming a mainstream modality when it comes to older adults as well. When working alongside a Recreation Therapist, older adults can participate in all kinds of leisure activities that benefit physical health while also providing a therapeutic experience for the other 4 domains.

Another domain of leisure is the psychological or cognitive domain. This domain is all about the brain, and working to keep it as sharp and active as possible. In Therapeutic Recreation, the psychological domain consists of leisure activities that get the brain working. For example, psychological activities can include card games, games with numbers, reading current events, and more! Essentially, these activities are intended to give the brain a little “workout” in order to promote cognitive health. These activities are especially important for older adults, as they allow the brain to exercise in a way that encourages it to work a little harder. Best Life encourages you to practice brain exercises as you age, in order to maintain and support psychological health!

Next is the spiritual domain. As you may know, spirituality can be defined as the recognition that there is something more to being human than just the everyday sensory experience. However you define spirituality, it is an important domain to nurture, especially as we age. It is a common belief that as we get older, we become more in-tune with our spiritual selves. Whether you connect with your spiritual side by going to church, listening to your favourite symphony, or talking with the people that you love, it is a crucial domain of the self that should be enriched through leisure activities. There are many leisure activities that focus on the spiritual domain, as Therapeutic Recreation recognizes its importance in holistic well-being. Leisure activities like creating a gratitude journal, bible study, or family time can enrich your spiritual side and should be included in a client’s health regime. Spiritual well-being is extremely important, and should not be forgotten.

Finally, we have the social domain of leisure. This domain encompasses all activities that involve social interaction between clients. Social connectedness is an important aspect when it comes to a person’s well-being especially due to the challenges we have been experiencing throughout the pandemic. Leisure and recreation activities within the social domain can include happy hour, a fitness class, going to church, or anything that brings people together. Social well-being is crucial for combatting social isolation, loneliness, and depression. Social leisure activities can be built into a client’s Individualized Program Plan to help promote an optimal aging experience.

The 5 domains of leisure are the foundation of all recreation and leisure activities. Participating in these activities allow individuals to have a therapeutic experience that can be used in addition to traditional methodologies to ensure the health of the whole person. Best Life offers Therapeutic Recreation services where an Aging Enrichment Consultant will create an Individualized Program Plan for clients that includes recreation and leisure activities. This Program Plan will reflect the goals and abilities of the client, and help them towards their goal of creating an optimal aging experience through leisure. Contact us today to see how you can create an Individualized Program Plan with Best Life! Click here for more information.