Resources Available on the Internet

Submitted by: Debbie Hommel

There are countless resources available on the internet.  It is common practice for the recreation therapist and activity professional to have a collection of favorites.  Danny asked me to share a few of mine.

Adaptive Equipment: We are lucky to be able to find almost anything we need to meet the needs of clients with a quick google search as there are many sites offering adaptive equipment.  Some specialize in addressing low vision or hearing loss such as the National Federation of the Blind ( or Hearing Loss Association of America ( These sites offer resources at a local level as well as various devices to increase independence.  There are many sites which have a variety of adaptive equipment but the one I have found to offer the largest variety is Independent Living Aids (  They offer a number of items which contribute to greater independence and an improved quality of life.  You can check out additional resources here:

Dementia:  My work is primarily with geriatrics so I am constantly seeking additional resources on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care.  I have found the ADEAR Center ( which is affiliated with the National Institute of Aging, offers many helpful resources which can be used in training.  Along with the ADEAR Center, the Alzheimer’s Association ( web site has abundant information which can be used in training and education as well.  Many of the publications on both sites can be printed out and shared with staff and families.  There are some excellent videos which can be used in in-services and some of the publications are available in Spanish.

Online Education: The growth in non-traditional education has been immense in recent years.  There are many opportunities for education through webinars, on line seminars, and independent study.  Before purchasing this type of education, it is good practice to review the validity and reliability of the education source.  One should also check with their certifying body to determine the type of on line education they will accept.  Many colleges offer professional continuing education along with their accredited college courses.  The University of Tasmania in Australia ( offers an excellent free 30 hour continuing education program on understanding dementia. Danny Pettry, ( the sender of this newsletter, offers a wide variety of this type of training directed to the recreation therapist.  My site also offers courses which are relevant to the recreation therapist. You can check them out here:

Programming:  The most popular new place to secure programming resources, along with anything else, seems to be Pinterest (  It is the new “go-to” site to find specific activity ideas and specific interventions for particular needs.  A search of therapeutic recreation pulls up programs, devices, quotations and much more.  More specific searches can pull up even more resources.  One can then save the pins to a personal page or follow particular pages of interest. You are invited to follow my page (DebbieHommel).  The TR Directory ( has a nice collection of programming interventions, organized in categories.

My site also has a variety of sites saved focusing on horticulture therapy, themes, aromatherapy, reminiscing and more.

Five Points to Consider When Choosing an Online Course

canstockphoto37903418Submitted By Haley Burress, Master of Science in Recreation Administration, with Recreation Therapy Emphasis, and Writer for

Modern technology has afforded us many conveniences, especially when it comes to continuing our education. Thanks to online courses, Recreation Therapists and other Allied Health Professionals are able to obtain great content, learn how to better serve their clients, find varied and valuable contact hours, and do all of it in pajamas after the kids are in bed or while eating lunch at work.

However, it is important to be sure that you are taking the best online course possible in order to leave the experience feeling inspired and educated, not frustrated and fed up. Whether you are an amateur or a pro in the realm of online learning, consider the following when choosing an online course:

Choose a course that complements your current work population
With topics of online courses ranging in style and content, it is important that you choose one that includes information or inspiration that you can effectively use at your current workplace. If you are working with seniors, find a topic related to senior care that intrigues you. If you are working with adults with developmental disabilities, investigate a topic for that population that you think you might be able to utilize in your day to day work life.

You will get more out of your online course if you leave it feeling excited about your profession and the influence you have at your workplace. Use your online courses not just as a way to earn contact hours, but as a way to be instantly energized and effect change in programming with your clients.

Choose a topic that interests you
That said, be wary not to box yourself in to only looking at content that you may use with your current population. After all, Rec Therapists and other Allied Health Professionals sometimes choose to change it up a bit and work with other special populations. What better way to test the waters than to leave your niche and learn something new and exciting about a population unfamiliar to you?

Be sure that the online vendor is legit and user-friendly
While most online course vendors are on the up-and-up, some are easier to work with than others. Before you send payment, be sure you know how you will receive the content (via email or password protected site), if there is online technical support readily available (especially helpful if you are taking the course after business hours), and how/when the certificate of completion is sent. This info can likely be found in their FAQs. Any delay in these items may make you frustrated and worried, resulting in a less than great experience.

Know if you are required to purchase additional learning items
Before you decide on a particular online course, make sure that you know what learning items are required. Some courses include all the content in the presentation materials while others require you to read additional books or reference articles. If you need to head to the library, or order something on Amazon once you start the course, it can feel overwhelming; be sure you know all of that in advance.

Know if the course will give you the CEUs or other credits you are seeking
Online courses are wonderful, and taking one is a perfect way to find out different perspectives on treatment or programming. However, before you take a course on Quality of Life Programming for Seniors, or that Social Work course that caught your attention, make sure you know if that course will be approved for the type of CEU or contact hour you need, especially if you are down to the wire with your CTRS renewal.

Online classes are often more engaging, entertaining, and informative than they’ve been in the past. Authors work hard to develop content that is applicable to the field and write it to be easy to read. What are you waiting for? Check out an online course today!

Check out courses here:


And as always – check out self-study online courses at 

Ptarmigan West’s “Recreation Therapy Learning Opportunities”


Ptarmigan West’s “Recreation Therapy Learning Opportunities”
Barbara Bond-Howard, MA, CTRS/R
Ptarmigan West has been about  education ever since July, 1990.  We have educated thousands of students across the United States and Canada with our video/DVD series.  More recently we have been about seminars and on-line learning opportunities for continuing education for re-certification.  Specialty Certification has come to Recreation Therapists and most people say they find it difficult to get enough CEUs in the area of their specialty and therefore, do not pursue it.  We wanted to help with that and provide cost effective CEUs for our field.
Our live seminars are always small groups of 10-18 therapists where we tackle difficult topics. They are full day classes.  Current classes of topics  & locations can be found at:
Our on-line classes are both lecture and self-study.  They are completed on a platform that lets you watch a video and then complete homework.  All homework assignments are web-based and we fully embrace the idea the  “E-Learning Manifesto” which says that CEUs done on-line should give the learner an opportunity to use the internet to go deeper into a topic thereby becoming more fully vested in the learning opportunity.  Just like on social media you might lose track of time by clicking and reading, your  CEU classes should help you become engrossed in what you have just been learning about.  Our aim is by the time you finish each class, you will go away with something that you can immediately use with your patients or residents.  It’s an opportunity to fall back in love with your profession.  You know, the reason you went in to this field to begin with.
I know, I’m a bit of an “education junkie” myself.  I typically have over 100 CEU hours at my certification renewal time.  I find that taking classes keeps me from burning out.  It gives me new ways to look at doing “the same thing”.  I remember a few decades ago, before the internet was a viable option, when I got my last CEU 2 weeks before my renewal.  I sweated that one out as I waited and waited for some CEU opportunity to show itself that was priced reasonably.   Times have changed.  There are many opportunities now.  My hope for you as you take classes is that it’s not just a CEU that you need for re-certification..  These opportunities  should:
  1. help you get better at your profession.
  2. create a new opportunity to do the same thing in a different way.
  3. learn something new that excites you.
  4. remind you why you wanted to become a recreation therapist
I love teaching.  I love learning.  There’s something in both of these that gives my life energy.  Life is very full:  Family, friends, work, and play.   Don’t let CEUs exist because you HAVE to have them, but rather, because you CAN have them.   You can find Ptarmigan West’s on-line classes at

Labyrinths Bringing Communities Together

Submitted by:Professor Paulette Schuster, MS, RTC, RC


Have you ever walked a sacred path?   Have you ever seen one and just thought it was a beautiful design and had no idea what it was for?  In these despite, unsure times, our communities can benefit from playing, running or having a meditative walk on a labyrinth.  It’s for everyone and inclusive.

Labyrinths are ancient symbols, ancient because it predates Christianity over a millennium.  Dr. Artress, who has done extensive research on them, says it’s a blend of visual symbolism with the process of walking meditation which is similar to the Japanese Zen.

The labyrinth combines the artistry and simplicity of the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path.  It represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world.

A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk, dance, play, pray, meditate and ponder in it.  It is a metaphor for life’s journey; a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to, what Dr. Artress describes as “That Which Is Within.”  In the 90’s Jean Houstin New Age Teacher, says it is seeking spiritual enlightenment through walking the labyrinth.

By walking the labyrinth, a design laid in or on the floor, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is being reborn.

The most famous ancient Labyrinth was in Crete found in a cave 5,000 BC.   Later found printed on ancient coins, baskets and pottery.


Labyrinths are found all over the world.

Were you aware that walking a labyrinth is a right brain task?   It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery.  Labyrinths are often confused with a Maze.  A labyrinth is not a maze, which has dead ends and paths which sometimes must be retraced to find a way out. With a maze, a left brain task, many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center and finding your way back out again. The labyrinth has only one path.  There are no tricks, and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives; it touches our sorrows and releases our joys. Walk it with an open mind and an open heart.

A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again. There is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.

There are as many reasons for walking the labyrinth, as there are people, worldviews or spiritual traditions. Whatever one’s religion, walking the labyrinth clears the mind and gives insight into the spiritual journey. We live in a time of extreme spiritual hunger. People are seeking ways to enhance and deepen their awareness of a higher power.

The Labyrinth can be a therapeutic tool for doing this, as a form of walking meditation. Many people today are seeking a closer, deeper, more personal relationship with a higher power or power within us. The labyrinth is a place to find this. It is a place to pour out our hearts, express anger, experience joy, express gratitude and experience a peace that truly does pass all understanding.  It is a very effective therapeutic tool for people with ADD, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Mental Health disorders, Prisons, PTSD, Youth at Risk and the VA’s and the list goes on and on.

I have conducted numerous workshops to certified recreation therapists throughout the years, who are using it as a tool with their populations.  I have also been teaching it to my university students for 20 years and happy to say that the university finding put a Labyrinth on campus which students enjoy using, especially during mid-terms and finals.  Students send me pictures of Labyrinth they find on their travels throughout the U.S. and foreign countries.

Walking the Labyrinth has many outcomes some of which are; quieting of the mind, grounding and centering of self, feeling of being healed, increased unity and wholeness, increased awareness of self and relationship of self and a higher power or spiritual beliefs.  It can be a vehicle to enhance our understanding of the mystery of ourselves and experiences in which we move out of chaos into harmony or better understanding.

There are generally three stages to a meditative walk; the first stage, lasting until the center of the labyrinth, can be called shedding, a releasing, and letting go of the details of your life. This tends to quiet the mind. The second stage can be called the illumination, when you reach the center and linger there. The center is a place of meditation and prayer; stay there as long as you like. The third stage, beginning as you leave the center and retrace your steps back to the outside, can be called union with spiritual power and the healing forces at work in the world.

I know firsthand the benefits.  I became fascinated with it years ago after attending a general session given by a recreation therapist at a CA Park and Recreation Society Convention.   I never forgot the impact it made on me and began seeking them out whenever I could.  I was so impressed that we put a Labyrinth in our backyard.

By this time, you may be asking yourself, how does this ancient concept bring a community together?  Our departments and agencies do not have to have the budget to put one in.  Community members can come together, design plans and build it as a community event.  I’s not impossible.  It brings people together and everyone benefits.  Once it is built, there is very little maintenance.  They fit into all spaces, from simplistic to more traditional.  It is a win, win for everyone.


Dr. Lauren Artress Walking a Sacred Path, Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool (Riverhead Books New York 1995)

Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper & Rev. Dr. Carole Ann Camp, Second Edition Labyrinths from Outside In (Skylight Paths Publishing a Division of Longhill Partners, Inc. 2013



JAS: We are a CEU provider and have CEU educational workshops.



Online resources for Rec Therapists

Submitted by: Brenda Torres-Wells CTRS (operator of:


As a CTRS Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (Recreational Therapist), I understand that in order to deliver quality programs depends on proper client needs assessments, plan and design utilizing protocols with the steps aiming for successful outcomes.

Online resources are now easily available to learn, create and develop….Effective Meaningful Activities.

Working in this field for over 25 years has allowed me to value the importance of program  development while thinking outside the box utilizing as much informational resources including many of my professional colleagues and friend’s online resources and literature.

Making moments count for our clients should be important and motivate us in finding opportunities in delivering meaningful experiences for our client’s life journey. Be open to explore ALL that the Web has to offer in creating priceless moments for those that we serve. B.T.W.

A few online TR resource subject suggestions:

  • Therapeutic Recreation Leisure Programming
  • CEU/Education/Internship/Conference Opportunities
  • Case Studies and New Trends
  • Community resources accessible for the disabled
  • New laws and regulations
  • Employment/ Job Postings
  • Network opportunities
  • Equipment; décor, adapted devices, and materials supplies
  • Books(  hard copy & auditory), downloadable ( music & literature materials)


Phoenix VA Job Opportunities

Phoenix VA Job Opportunities –

Phoenix VA Medical Center is currently advertising for 2 full time certified therapeutic recreation specialists-

1 for the outpatient mental health clinic
1 for the homeless Veterans community-based program

Minimum qualifications include 1 year of experience working as a CTRS.

Visit for more information and to apply. The posting includes both positions and opened today and will be open only for 6 days, closing Monday, 7/25/16!

We invite you to consider joining our wonderful team of recreational therapists at the Phoenix VA!

Please forward to any interested therapists! 🙂

Phoenix VA Medical Center Mission: To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise – “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” – by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans. How would you like to become a part of a team providing compassionate care to Veterans?

Basking in sunshine 300 days a year in the aptly named Valley of the Sun, the Phoenix VA Health Care System is located near downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Although renowned for its warm, dry climate, Arizona’s capitol offers much more than great weather. The Phoenix metro area, now America’s 5th largest city, offers affordable housing and a relaxed, informal southwestern lifestyle. Diversity abounds.

Greater Phoenix has an abundance of golf courses, parks, public swimming pools and bike paths. For the sports fans Phoenix is home to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, NFL’s Arizona Cardinals; Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks and the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes. Across the state, more than 11 million acres of national forest lands provide a varied playground for those who enjoy skiing, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, boating, hiking or camping. For the more adventurous, there’s white water rafting on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon! For city dwellers, the valley boasts exceptional shopping and retail establishments, restaurants and night life. The valley is also rapidly gaining prominence as a Mecca for the arts. Phoenix possesses world class museums, a ballet, symphony orchestra and several theater companies. For more information on the City of Phoenix, visit the Chamber of Commerce site at

High Tech Activity Idea: Resident Blogging (Elder Bloggers)

Submitted by:  Kimberly Grandal, CTRS, ACC/EDU
More and more facilities are setting up computer labs or stations and teaching the elderly how to utilize computers and the internet. There are so many different ways in which activity and recreation professionals are utilizing these computers such as, computer games, emailing, webcams, digital photos, and mp3’s, watching videos, pen pal programs, on-line travel clubs, www scavenger hunts, and so much more!

Have you ever considered starting a Resident Blog? A blog is basically a type of website, which includes regular entries of discussion, happenings, thoughts, or other material. An individual person or group of people may maintain a blog. Blogs can also include pictures, videos, links, news, or any other relevant information.

Blogging is simply a great activity for the residents, providing empowerment, self expression, responsibility, purpose and an overall sense of well being. Family members and friends of residents can also benefit from the residents’ blog for they can subscribe and read about the facility happenings or resident news.

All you need to start a blogging group is a computer, internet access, interested residents and signed permission slips or consent forms. Residents who are blogging as part of this special group should give their written permission to have “their work” posted on the internet. It’s also important to remember that any resident photos, videos, birthdays and such should have written permission from each participating resident or legal guardian.  I also recommend you receive permission from the administrator or your supervisor.

There really are no right and wrong ways to maintain a blog, however, here are some basic tips and ideas to help you and your residents make the most out of the blogging experience.

Find a free blog host. There are many free blog hosting companies available to choose from. Common ones include:  lists over 40 + free blog hosts

Define the purpose of the blog and stay on topic. Is this a blog that discusses the activity events at your facility or is it about life in the facility? Perhaps it is a blog that discusses residents’ rights, legislation and advocacy for seniors or is one that focuses on past experiences. It’s really up to you and your residents, but choose some type of topic and stick to that. You may even choose to have different blogs, for example, maybe the men would like to have their own blog about sports, whereas the women discuss recipes and cooking tips.

Stay current. If the bloggers are reporting on industry news, events and such, be sure it is current information and that the facts are correct  The residents can surely voice their opinions regarding subject matter, but be sure that it clearly stated that the content of the blog is meant to be an editorial.

Title and dates. Be sure the information is current and that each entry is given a title. This will help readers find the information and attract attention.

Create visual interest. Don’t forget to add pictures and videos if available to create a more visual blog.  However, it’s imperative you receive written permission from each resident that is pictured on the blog.

Create a schedule or timeline. How often will your group meet to blog? Weekly, daily, monthly? Of course residents who are independent may choose to blog whenever the writing bug bites them!

Grammar and spelling. Although this isn’t a writing contest or school, grammar and spelling is important so be sure to check each posting.

Keep it simple. Remember that the most important part of the residents’ blog is for the residents to have fun, express themselves in a whole new way and create meaningful activity.

Recruit help from high school students. If you don’t have time to facilitate this type of group, then make it a project for the high school students. Using your intergenerational program for technology related projects and activities sparks interests from the students and takes some pressure off of the Activity department.

Advertise your blog. You want people to read the blog so let the family members, staff, corporate headquarters, the media, etc. know about your resident blog. This can also be a fantastic marketing tool!

Want to Succeed as a Recreation Therapist? Follow these simple steps.

Submitted by: Charlie Dixon, MS, CTRS, FDRT
Therapeutic Recreation Directory

  1. Smile, appear joyful.
  2. Recognize patients and staff each and every day by their name and greeting.
  3. Laugh.
  4. Listen as if each person you are talking to is the most interesting person in the world.
  5. Learn new things regularly.
  6. Get to know administration and doctors on a personal level.
  7. Write well… especially patient documentation. Make your notes invaluable to the team.

When I look to hire staff I look at personality 1st.  Motivation, joyfulness, character, creativity, and such are things that I want in staff.  Skills can be taught and learned but personality is difficult to shape.  Are there traits that you want to improve upon.  Start today… smile at the next person you see and say “hello” in a joyful way.  It’s a step towards a different inner attitude.  Come to work each day with a mindset that you are going do this – every day, even if you had a rotten day at home.


Charlie Dixon, MS, CTRS, FDRT
Therapeutic Recreation Directory


No Cost Resources from Indiana University’s ScholarWorks

Submitted by: David R. Austin, Ph.D., FDRT, FALS, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University

Below are specific resources available to recreational therapy students, faculty, and practitioners who wish to take advantage the Indiana University Library’s ScholarWorks program. And all are free resources.

Glossary of Recreation Therapy and Occupational Therapy

  • No cost access to the Glossary of Recreation Therapy and Occupational Therapy is available via the Indiana University Library’s ScholarWorks program. The Glossary provides a handy tool for RT students from their introduction to recreational therapy course through their internships. All faculty instructing the introduction to RT course should list this resource on the syllabus so students become familiar with it. Another use of the Glossary has been as a resource for those preparing for the NCTRC exam to review terms that appear on the exam. To access the Glossary type the title into your search box or go to:

Recreational Therapy Videos

All 23 videos produced through Indiana University’s Recreation Therapy Video Project are available at no cost via streaming through the IU Library’s ScholarWorks program. The titles of videos available at no cost are:

  • Adaptive equipment
  • Case studies
  • Clinical supervision
  • Computer use in therapeutic recreation
  • Documentation and behavioral observation
  • Effective listening
  • Feedback in learning and performance situations
  • History of therapeutic recreation parts I, II, III
  • Individual program planning
  • Interactions with people who have disabilities
  • Models of practice : health protection/health promotion model
  • Models of practice : leisure ability model
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Portraits of pioneers in therapeutic recreation
  • Professional ethics
  • Professionalism in therapeutic recreation
  • Quality of life
  • Safe transportation : safely transporting clients
  • Therapeutic communication
  • Therapeutic recreation history : the formative years
  • Therapeutic recreation history: the modern era
  • To serve a purpose
  • Transfer techniques


The video “To Serve a Purpose” offers an overview of recreational therapy and is often used in introductory courses in recreational therapy. Other titles regularly employed in RT instructional programs include: “Professional Ethics” and “History of Therapeutic Recreation Parts I, II, III.” Several of the videos have been used by practitioners when presenting in-service training for recreational therapists or kindred professionals.

To access any of the RTV videos, type into the search box Recreation Therapy Videos and look for Indiana University ScholarWorks or go to