According to the American Therapeutic Recreational Association, recreational therapy is “a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as means to psychological and physical health, recovery, and well-being.” Recreational therapy has been used for individuals from a variety of areas: geriatric, mental health, addictions, general medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, developmental disabilities and pediatric clients, as stated on ATRA’s website. Overall, recreational therapy assists people in a variety of ways.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that recreational therapists employ a variety of activities for clients, including arts and crafts, swimming, music and dance, sports and games, community outings, team building and more. The role of a recreational therapist is to help individuals:

  • Engage in treatment that suits their needs and interests
  • Meet their recovery goals through interventions
  • Engage in activities to keep them present and active
  • Learn social skills need to become or remain independent
  • Cope with stress, anxiety, and depression

Recreational therapy has proven to be very effective for individuals with mental illness; for example, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Nursing and Health Science found that of 100 participants with a depressive disorder, well-being was increased after the individuals engaged in recreational therapy. Another study completed by researchers from Philadelphia found that leisure activities can be “a positive, strengths-based and potentially cost-effective means for helping people better deal with the challenges of living with a mental illness.”

Recreational therapy doesn’t just help people with mental illness, however. People who are in recovery from addiction can utilize recreational therapy to assist them with relapse prevention, reduction in cravings, and alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression associated with recovering from their addiction. Engaging in activities also helps individuals avoid boredom, which is a key relapse trigger for many.

If you’re considering recreational therapy as part of your recovery, seek out a reputable treatment center that incorporates this, along with other methods, for you to partake in. It’s never too late to seek help, and there are many people ready to help you begin your journey.

New Vista Behavioral Health is home to several world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery treatment programs. If you are ready to seek help, call us today at 888-316-3665 for a consultation; several of our treatment centers provide exceptional recreational therapy.



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