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Recreational Therapy Is a Powerful Tool – Not a Contradiction in Terms

man playing basketball outside - recreational therapy

It seems likely that you seldom think of the word “therapy” and the word “recreational” under the same circumstances. After all, recreation means getting away from all the stress of life, spending time doing what you want to do with the people you love, pursuing a hobby you enjoy (no matter how unusual or obscure), and more. Recreation is fun. It’s relaxing. It’s something we look forward to whether it comes in the form of date night, a weekend getaway, or an extended vacation.

As for Therapy?

Well, it’s therapy. Helpful? Of course. Enlightening? Often so. Cathartic? Sure thing. But recreational? Who goes to therapy as recreation? Fair question.

But it turns out, no matter how counterintuitive it may seem, recreational therapy can be a powerful tool for addressing mental health disorders. And that is why it plays a key role in the therapeutic approach at Peak View Behavioral Health.

Let’s take a look at what recreational therapy is, how it works, and what you might expect.

Recreational Therapy: What It Is

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association offers this definition of recreational therapy:

Recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery, and well-being.

If we’re being honest, that definition doesn’t sound all that recreational. And to be sure, the ATRA goes on to say, “Recreational therapy is not all fun and games.”

That said, there likely will be fun and games involved. In fact, the fun will be personalized to you and your specific needs. Here’s how it is explained in an article about recreational therapists in U.S. News & World Report:

From team sports to music, hiking to bowling, a recreational therapist fuses goal-oriented leisure and health care. After meeting with a patient, therapists develop a treatment plan for him or her. They take into account where patients are in their care, their abilities and disabilities, and their interests.

“We will ask you, ‘What do you enjoy doing? What makes you, you?'” [a recreational therapist] says. “These aren’t questions they’re going to get from their physician or their nurse; they’re questions they’re going to get from their recreational therapist.”

At Peak View Behavioral Health, recreational therapy includes a variety of options for clients, including art, music, play, and sports.

Recreational Therapy: How It Works

Recreational therapy pursues the same goals as other kinds of therapy for physical and mental well-being. As another therapist puts it in the U.S. News & World Report piece, “We have the same treatment goals. We just achieve it in a different way. We achieve it in a more interactive way and build on our client’s strengths and interests in order to achieve those goals.”

The personalization of the therapy is at the heart of the approach. By aligning the recreational activities with a person’s own needs and interests, therapists can create programs that have benefits beyond the specific therapeutic goals. Those benefits include increased overall well-being, boosts in self-confidence, and a richer quality of life. All of those things support mental health (and can also support those who are in recovery from a co-occurring substance use disorder).

Recreational Therapy: What to Expect

We have noted that Peak View Behavioral Health offers several options for activities as part of our recreational therapy program. Maybe you and your therapist will decide that engaging in art or music activities will be most beneficial to you. Or perhaps you will find that various kinds of play and sports activities are more helpful. Or you might find that a robust combination of activities serves you best.

The most important thing to remember is that recreational therapy is about enjoyment and healing. It is decidedly not about mastery or competition. Recreational therapy is focused on the process—the benefits of participation, engagement, experimentation, and letting one’s guard down—rather than on the product. That means you do not have to feel any pressure to create a masterwork of visual art or a chart-topping pop song. And you don’t have to feel any pressure to score the winning goal, make all the free throws, or set a new record in the 100-yard dash.

We are certainly not saying you are incapable of doing one or more of those things. But we are saying that none of those things is the central focus of recreational therapy. Instead, your well-being and mental health will be at the forefront of the work we do together.

Peak View Behavioral Health Prioritizes Recreational Therapy

In addition to group therapy and available individual therapy, recreational therapy is a key part of our therapeutic approach at Peak View Behavioral Health. As we have noted, your therapy will be personalized to meet your needs and to support your mental health and/or recovery from a substance use disorder. We will put in the work to make sure recreational therapy serves you well.

peak view behavioral health - colorado springs, colorado mental health and addiction treatment centerFor more information about Peak View Behavioral Health programs, and Colorado mental health and addiction treatment, or if you have questions, please call us at 719-444-8484 or use our contact form.

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