Chapter2 - Sagamore Publishing

Recreational Therapy: An Introduction
Chapter 2: The History of Therapeutic Recreation:
A History of Two Professions
PowerPoint Slides
“The Great Acceleration”
 With WWII came the beginnings of “The Great Acceleration,” or vast growth in
recreational therapy.
 More than 1,800 Red Cross Recreation Workers were employed to serve
hospitalized soldiers during WWII.
 The VA began recreation programs in its hospitals, which developed into
recreational therapy services.
 Following WWII, RT services were initiated in state psychiatric hospitals and in state
institutions for residents with intellectual disabilities (termed mental retardation at
the time).
 With the growth in RT came efforts toward professionalization.
Hospital Recreation Section of the ARS
 Formed in 1948 as a branch of the American Recreation
 Saw recreation as an end in itself.
 Believed in the credo of “recreation for all.”
National Association of Recreational Therapists (NART)
 An independent association that began in 1952.
 Primarily composed of recreational therapists from state psychiatric hospitals
and state schools for persons with intellectual disabilities.
 Believed in the use of recreation as therapy or recreation as a treatment tool.
National Therapeutic Recreation Society (NTRS)
 Those in the Hospital Recreation Section of ARS and the National Association of
Recreational Therapists (NART) came together to form NTRS in 1966.
 NTRS was a branch of the National Recreation and Park Association.
Under NTRS professionalization did occur:
 A scholarly journal, the Therapeutic Recreation Journal was established in
 Guidelines for practice were published.
 A growing number of universities established TR programs.
 An expansion in the publication of textbooks and other professional literature
 A credentialing program was established under the National Council on
Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).
Even with professionalization, the lack of a single
professional philosophy hampered the development of TR
 Because the field of therapeutic recreation had not established a single
philosophical position to form a basis for its practice, it languished.
 Hemingway (1986) stated that therapeutic recreation had been absorbed with
developing the “trappings of a profession” to the neglect of establishing a
philosophical foundation for practice.
Even with the formation of NTRS conflicts raged between:
 The HRS/ARS position of recreation as an end.
 The NART position of recreation as therapy or recreation as a means.
Continuing conflict between the “means vs. ends” views…
Professor Carol Peterson, coauthor of the Leisure Ability
Model, stated that “from the beginning, it appears there
has been debate over the basic issue of whether
therapeutic recreation (or recreational therapy) is or
should be therapy oriented or leisure oriented.”
A new professional organization begins…
 Ultimately philosophical conflicts between the leisure orientation and the therapy
orientation and a desire for an autonomous professional organization lead to the
formation of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA).
 ATRA was formed in 1984.
Philosophical foundations lacking for therapeutic recreation
 Authors, such as Lahey, Mobley, and Sylvester, made a strong case that every
profession needs an agreed-upon philosophy that offers a clear position from
which it may interpret what it does and on which it may base practice.
 Yet these authors lamented, that in reviewing the history of therapeutic
recreation, such a clear philosophical position has been lacking.
Other authors commented on the history of TR…
Shank and Kinney (1987) stated the history of
therapeutic recreation has “one consistent theme:
the uneasy fit between recreation as a contributor
to the normalization and life quality of persons with
disability and recreation as a means to improve an
individual’s psychological and physical
Other authors commented on the history of TR…
Sylvester (2009) suggested therapeutic
recreation has been “caught between two
traditions that have resisted assimilation into
a single practice” and concluded that
these two orientations are “fundamentally
different practices.”
Other authors commented on the history of TR…
Austin and Crawford (2015): “The history of therapeutic
recreation clearly shows two practices have existed, each
with a distinctive philosophy. One philosophy grew out of
the traditions of the Hospital Recreation Section of the
American Recreation Society, could be termed the leisure
orientation philosophy or leisure facilitation philosophy. This
philosophical position perceives leisure as an end, not a
(quote continued next slide)
Austin and Crawford quote continued…
“The second philosophy, which professionals in the
National Association of Recreational Therapists
embraced, takes the approach of recreation as
therapy that sees recreation as a means, not an
end. This position could be termed the recreational
therapy philosophy.”
Austin (2014) has concluded that:
“Both philosophical positions are strong enough to
support two worthy professions, each of which
should find their rightful places among kindred
professions. Those who hold the “leisure for all”
philosophy certainly can have an important place
within the leisure service professions. Those who
embrace the “therapy” philosophy position can
assume their natural positon within the healthcare
Do you agree with the authors of our text that:
“Professionals within the field of therapeutic
recreation should consider that the field is made
up of two distinct professions. Furthermore, the
expression recreational therapy should be used
to interpret the use of recreation as a means to

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