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Therapeutic Recreation: A Summary

Recreational therapy is using activities and recreation led by trained professionals to improve the health and well-being of participants with mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. Therapeutic recreation’s main purpose is to help improve people’s physical, social, emotional, or spiritual function to help them live a full life. This intervention method can be carried out through many different types of activities such as crafts, sports, or animal engagement. These activities aim to reduce anxiety and depression while boosting motor skills and social skills.


Recreational therapy can help people of all different levels of health and ages. There is a wide variety of benefits participants can receive from this intervention method including:

  • Developing everyday life skills to maintain independence
  • Reducing effects of existing disabilities
  • Develop and maintain skills to aid with everyday tasks
  • Provides outcome-focused solutions
  • Increased confidence and social skills
  • Improved motor function
  • Enhanced reasoning abilities

Therapeutic recreation can benefit people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, and health. Recreational therapy can help people recover from strokes, surgery, injuries, and illness. RT can also help people who want to improve their motor skills or need help learning to carry out tasks of daily living. This intervention technique focuses on building and maintaining a healthy and navigable lifestyle. Each intervention is tailored specifically to each participant based on their past, present, and future interests and lifestyles to help them live their life to the fullest.

Recreational Therapy Activities:

Therapeutic recreation activities are led by a professional to help curate, maintain and build skills along the way that will contribute to the participant’s quality of life. Here are just a few of the common activities involved with therapeutic recreation.

Animal Therapy- Developing a bond with an animal can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Pets or engaging with animals can help reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. For more information check this out: Animal Therapy: A Guide

Time Outdoors and Gardening- Spending time outdoors and being active when possible can help people stay active, independent and can maintain balance. Activities such as gardening, walking, hiking, or biking are great ways to strengthen your body and get some fresh air. To learn about gardening check this out: Should I start a garden?

Listening to Music- Listening to music is a very easy way to reduce stress. Additionally, it can help remind individuals of their past experiences and can improve memory recall. There is a wide range of benefits from music, to learn more about them read through this article: The Sound of Music: Effects on the Aging Population

Crafts: Arts and crafts are great ways to express creativity and there are unlimited options. For benefits and craft ideas browse through these lists: Summer Crafts, Activities for Patients with Dementia: A Recommendation List

Other examples of activities could include sports, baking, cooking, brainteasers, or even video games. These activities can change with each individual’s interests, needs, and abilities to ensure that they get the most out of their RT experience.

Recreational therapy is a fantastic intervention method for people to explore. It can suit anyone to help them with any issue they may be facing from isolation and depression to rehabilitation from injuries, or cognitive issues. The goal is to create a positive and engaging experience for participants based on their preferences with long-term education and solutions.

For more information on recreational therapy check out these resources:

7 Engaging Recreational Therapy Activities

About Recreational Therapy: National Council for Therapeutic Recreation

National Therapeutic Recreation Week

About Recreational Therapy

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