Recreational Therapy For Addiction Treatment
What Is Recreational Therapy?
Some forms of this type of therapy might include any of the following activities:
- Arts and crafts
- Outdoor adventures
- Interacting with and caring for animals
- Games (including video gaming)
- Creative writing
- Drama activities
The Goals of Recreational Therapy
Complementary interventions that include leisure activities are put into place with the goals of improving participants’ self-esteem, social skills, cooperation, and trust.3 Recreational activities during and post rehab help those recovering from substance use learn ways to rebuild their leisure life, remain healthy, and interact with others who are living a sober lifestyle. Therapeutic recreational activities help increase the energy needed for sober living after rehab.
The Beginnings of Therapeutic Recreation
By 1908, those attending the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy at Hull House were learning games, arts, crafts and hobbies so therapists could interact more meaningfully with their patients. The following year, recreation therapy became a vital role in psychotherapy management.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, activity therapies began to take place at hospitals and became a new profession to pursue. In 1950, the National Association for Music Therapy was formed. By 1990, a text titled “Benefits of Therapeutic Recreation” became a milestone in the field of therapeutic recreation in substance abuse treatment.6 The book analyzed research findings on the subject and recommended further research on a number of issues, including the relationships between drug use and stress.
Today, many addiction rehab facilities integrate various forms of recreation therapies into their programs as part of a holistic approach to treatment and recovery.
In 1889, Jane Addams founded Hull House in Chicago, where community services and recreation were provided to poor people, an idea inspired by Neva Leona Boyd. Ms. Boyd realized that recreation experiences given to the young people at Hull House could positively impact their social and behavioral development, and she was sure that recreation would become an important social intervention.5
How Therapeutic Recreation Helps
- Promote independence
- Instill a stronger sense of self-esteem
- Provide motivation
- Improve mental and emotional health
- Allow for a better quality of life
- Reduces isolation, stress, and anxiety
Myths and Misconceptions
Because recreation therapies are enjoyable, some people will discount these interventions as a waste of time. There is a misconception that recreational therapy is all fun and games. The truth is that becoming interested in certain hobbies and actively participating in them is beneficial to your cognitive, physical, and spiritual well-being. Playing games and engaging in stimulating activities help improve mood, motor skills, physical strength and independence. These are all essential aspects of living a successful sober lifestyle post-recovery.
Training Required For Recreational Therapists
The person or people leading therapeutic activities in a substance use addiction center are professionally trained in this field. Recreation Therapists can become certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreational Certification (NCTRC) after completing their bachelor’s degree with a major in recreational therapy. Many employers insist upon their recreational therapists receiving NCTRC certification. Therapists then complete an internship in the field and must pass a national examination. Four states in the US require recreational therapists to be nationally certified to practice: New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah.
Various Types of Recreational Therapy
Arts and Crafts
Dance and Movement Therapy
Keeping Up After Recovery
Continuing the activities enjoyed during addiction recovery is very important to sustained sobriety. Once these healthy habits have been established, it’s vital to continue exercising, writing or interacting with animals when living back at home.
There are many triggers you may encounter after leaving an addiction treatment facility, such as old friends who enabled your substance use and passing by places where you once hung out with those friends. Keeping up with healthy leisure activities may mean going to a yoga class on a regular basis in your community or taking continuing education classes in art or music to stay relaxed yet energized and healthy. The new friendships created during these activities can help you maintain your sobriety for the long term.
- 12-Step Model
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment
- Experiential Therapy
- Family Therapy Program
- Family System Approach to Treatment
- Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
- Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
- Relapse Prevention
- Trauma Focused Therapy
- Traumatic Incident Reduction Therapy