Therapeutic Recreation Relies on the Principles That Essay

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Therapeutic Recreation relies on the principles that people, mainly children can learn better through recreational environments and activities. In the therapeutic setting therapeutic recreation relates to the use of a recreational activity to allow children the opportunity to learn skills and abilities they might not be able to learn by other means, as in the therapeutic recreational setting learning is done in a natural and low pressure way and in this setting children especially have limited pressures to perform. Unlike more structured forms of therapy the environment and activity offers a sense of freedom that allows learning to come naturally when the individual is in a relaxed state and in theory and practice when they are more able to apply and retain lessons learned as a process of desire to achieve greater skills at the recreational task and possibly to apply them to other environments. Therapeutic recreation can serve as a bridge between structured learning and the ability of a person to adapt skills learned there, in a relaxed state to other environments, such as a learning classroom or at home. Additionally, some special needs children learn during therapeutic recreation physical as well as cognitive lessons that may then be retained in other situations. Therapeutic Recreation has been particularly helpful with children with special needs as this group of children needs support and adaptive skills to get along in the world and some of these skills can be better developed in a non-threatening situation. Children with autism spectrum disorder seem to be particularly responsive to therapeutic recreation because the environment allows them to connect with feelings and cognitions that may be difficult for them to deal with in a more charged real life situation where there may be consequences and unknowns that are frightening and therefore stifling to their ability to cope and thrive. Though autism spectrum disorders are varied in an extreme curve, and some individuals are high functioning while others are nearly completely socially disconnected, recreational therapy seems to be geared to their special need to focus on objects or animals that are not threatening to them and can help them learn a set of structured goals, therapeutically defined, much like and individual learning plan (ILP) in education, that can then hopefully be better applied to real life situations. (Lundberg, 1998, p. 195) There are three basic types of therapeutic recreation, which will be defined and described here, Play therapy, Pet-Assisted Therapy (ZOO Therapy), and adapted Therapeutic Horseback Riding.

Play therapy is the earliest form of therapeutic recreation and has been used in therapy for more than fifty years. The definition of play therapy according to the Association for Play Therapy is: "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development." (http://www.a4pt.org/ps.playtherapy.cfm) Play therapy is the guided utilization of selected objects and/or other recreational tools to allow the individual child the opportunity to learn in a situation that is natural to them, i.e. during play. The theory of play therapy is that this time allows the individual to reenact problems and/or concerns on a small, non-threatening scale to allow them in their natural state of learning to develop coping mechanisms and strategies to overcome a whole variety of problems. Some examples of play therapy include but are not limited to reenacting or exploring feelings or situations that are concerning to them through artistic expression with paint and paper, while being guided by a therapist, performing theatrical skits alone or in groups that are focused on interrelations and challenges of the individual child's daily life or even something as simple as creating a therapy doll that will be used to explain medical treatment they may be about to experience. There are of course also free form types of play therapy where an individual child is offered a selected set of objects to play with that could help them relax and rationalize conflict or problems they may be having by reenactment or simply by relaxing them enough to be receptive to learning. Play therapy can be adapted to a traditional therapy session where the child can be guided to discuss issues and/or problems while they are relaxed in a state of play or it can be used alone or adapted to group settings…[continue]

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