“Positive Thinking” alone – isn’t enough.

canstockphoto38610867A review of Gabriele Oettingen’s (2014) book, Rethinking positive thinking: inside the new science of motivation.

I often read books based on author reviews on the back of a book.

Two of my favorite authors, Carol S. Dweck, author of Mindset; and Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, had both provided reviews of Gabriele Oettingen’s book.

Here are some concepts that I enjoyed from Oettingen’s book:

  • Martin E. P. Seligman was the founder of positive psychology movement.
    • Danny P. comments: I think we, recreational therapists are applied positive psychologists.


  • Over 50% of new business fail in first five years.
    • Danny P. comments: My company, DannyPettry.com (Rec Therapy CEUs) is 10 years old!


  • Masolow’s hierarchy of needs was discussed in the book.  Oettingen points out that one level of need that all people have is “identifying with meaning or purpose in life.”
    • Danny P. comments: This reminds me a lot of existential psychology (finding meaning in life) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) creating meaning in life.


  • Positive wishes does not mean behavior changes occur. It also requires effort and work.
    • Danny P. comments: This reminds of me the documentary, The Secret, about the law of attraction. The secret focused on attracting good things through thoughts. I’d like to argue that the secret needed to go one step more and remind people to take initiative to make things happen.


  • Relaxation: imagining positive fantasies is a good way to relax. However, being relaxed is not the mood needed to achieve results.  The author points out research in 1990 that shows positive fantasies were not shown to bring out achieved results.
    • Danny P. comments: Effort is needed to make a result.


  • Expectations are important. Those who had high expectations of achieved outcomes were more likely to increase effort and the achieved success with wish. People with low expectations that wish would come to fruition were less likely to engage effort.
    • Danny P. comments: Realistic outcomes are important.


  • Mental contrasting: consists of a.) Dreaming/ wishing; and b.) Identifying obstacles/ barriers.
    • Danny P. comments: It helps a person to have a realistic idea on what behavior is needed to make the dream a reality.


  • Standardized testing:  there really isn’t a test for creativity. There are tests like IQ tests, and SAT, and ACT.
    • Danny P. comments: Problem-solving requires creative thinking.


  • Research on mental contrasting:  Creative potential scale (CPS). Mental contrasting was shown to be effective.
    • Danny P. comments: Simply providing positive feedback alone is not enough. The most effective, the mental contracting.


  • WOOP intervention consists of:
    • Wish (W)
    • Outcome (best possible you’d hope for)
    • Obstacle: something that could prevent it from happening
    • Plan: Action steps to get over the obstacle
    • If ___ then I’ll ______

Danny P. comments: the author’s WOOP intervention appears to be helpful.


Here is my amazon affiliate link:

Tetris could reduce flashbacks after trauma

canstockphoto9317522Fox news had an article posted that rec therapists might be interested in reading.

The article claims that “playing tetris after trauma may reduce flashbacks.”

Read about it here:


March 2017 Contest Winners

Our company is generous. WE love giving more.

Here are the March 2017 Contest Winners

A random number generator was used to select contest winners.


  • Taylor H., North Carolina – Grand prize winner. She won a 5-clock-hour self-study CEU course from DannyPettry.co ($80 Value) + the required book is being sent to her for free too (A $20 value) Way to go Taylor.

Three runner-ups won a $10 amazon gift card from DannyPettry.com (Rec Therapy CEUs)

  • Allison D., Colorado
  • Kari S., Wisconsin
  • Lesley, Michigan

Exercise is good for emotional health

My professor in graduate school, Dr. David Austin shared about this info-graphic via the rec therapy listserv.

Check it out – click on the link:

We all know that exercise is good for your body, but it’s also good for your emotional health! Whether it is biking, dancing, yoga, or tai chi, being active can help lift your spirits. Check out this infographic to learn more:
Share this infographic with family and friends to inspire them to get moving!

Twitter: #PhysicalActivity can help lift you up when you’re feeling down! Read & share this infographic for more: http://bit.ly/2nsmRaD

Facebook: Physical activity has benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Read and share this infographic from the National Institute on Aging at NIH:http://bit.ly/2o1FDa1

Physical Literacy Questions

A student from Newfoundland, Canada contacted be via Charlie Dixon’s Therapeutic Recreation Directory’s facebook group. She had questions about physical literacy for one of her assignments. I sent her a reply email with my answers on the subject. I wanted to post those answers here for you to read as well.



Physical Literacy Questions


  1. How would you define physical literacy?


I did go to google to do a quick search for “physical literacy.”

I regret to say that I was not very aware of the term, “physical literacy.”


I think the definition at Wikipedia is probably accurate:

Physical literacy is a fundamental and valuable human capability that can be described as a disposition acquired by human individuals encompassing the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding that establishes purposeful physical pursuits as an integral part of their lifestyle.

Physical literacy – Wikipedia



  1. How does your agency aid in promoting physical literacy in your community?


I work at a psychiatric hospital. We assist individuals with various mental/ behavioral health needs. We don’t directly promote physical health and wellness. However, there are several things we do:


Our recreational therapist do provide trainings during rec therapy month on the importance of recreation (including physical health and wellness) for the staff at our facility. People in the community have been invited to attend these trainings.


We also offer contest at our agency such as: ping-pong championship for staff.


Our hospital is supportive of staff by encouraging fitness activities. WE have a company softball team. Several staff are cyclist and runners.


  1. Do you feel that physical literacy is an important concept? Why or why not?


I think it is important because it helps people to maintain and promote optional health and wellness.


  1. Do you feel that children are more or less physically literate than children in the past?


I regret to say that I don’t know of any research right off.

It does appear that more children have given up “outdoor play and recreation” in order for electronics (video games, internet, etc)

There also appears to be a growing epidemic of children with obesity needs in the United States.


  1. What kinds of programs would be beneficial for the implementation of physical literacy in more ground-level recreation programs?


Physician supervised and recommended is probably best.

Provide useful education on the benefits.

Provide opportunities for physical activities for various age groups and needs.



  1. Do you feel that Newfoundland and Labrador has a good infrastructure for implementing physical literacy programming?


I regret to say that I don’t have much knowledge of Newfoundland.


I would like to disclose that the only grandfather who I knew was from Canada! He fought in WWII as infantry for the United States. He volunteered at the V.A. hospital for many years – where he met my grandmother who was volunteering there. Both of them assisted with their recreational therapy preprogram and services.


  1. Do you feel that many recreation practitioners are aware of physical literacy?


I feel confident that all recreation practitioners are aware of the concepts of physical literacy.


  1. What could be done to improve the conversation around physical literacy in Canada?


Marketing, Advocacy efforts, teaming up with other professionals, hosting special events.

Interview answers about Rec Therapy and mental health

A student asked me 19 questions about recreation, recreation therapy, and mental health.

I posted my answers below so more people could read them.


Questions for Issue Paper: Interviews


  1. What is your current occupation?


(I provide a mix of mental health counseling and recreational therapy services)


  1. Describe your place of work.

Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF). I provide services for three residential units for children and adolescents with various mental/ behavioral health needs.

These three residential treatment programs are housed/ located in a psychiatric hospital.


  1. What is the general age group of the people under your care?

Typically 7 to 17.

Sometimes, bur rare 6 or 18.


  1. Do you typically work with individuals who suffer from mental health issues?



  1. What kinds of mental health issues do you see as being more common today?

I’ve heard from a speaker (can’t recall name) that there is a growing number of adolescents with anger issues in our country (United States). I put U.S. because I wasn’t sure if you’re in U.S. or Canada.

Substance abuse issues seem pretty baseline (based on own personal experiences)


  1. What role (if any) do you see yourself playing with respect to treating people/patients suffering from mental health issues?

My role consists of:

  • Providing a humanistic approach that consists of: unconditional positive regard, empathetic listening, and validation.
  • I provide a mix of assessments.
  • I work with patient to create a treatment plan to address her (or his) needs as well as address and promote strengths
  • I provide a mix of treatment interventions (individual sessions, group sessions, sometimes family sessions) to assist the patient with meeting goals
  • I write progress evaluations of goals that were met.


  1. Are there any types of programs set up in your workplace to help people who suffer from mental health challenges?

We have three different residential treatment programs, including:

The Bridge Program for children (7 to 12) with abuse-reactive needs. This is my main focus area. I have additional training and experience with this population.


We have two other residential programs. I assist their units by providing group interventions/ skills training sessions:



The Road Program for adolescents male and female with dual diagnosis (substance abuse and mental health needs

The Roundtable Program for adolescent males with sex offender needs


  1. If so, are those programs experiencing success?
  • Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) is the main intervention for the children with abuse-reactive needs. There is a lot of research evidence that shows TF-CBT is an effective treatment (for most children). This is the program that I primarily provide services for.


  • Our therapist for the substance-abuse unit (dual dx) has a lot of experience working with that population. They also have a 12-steps program (is not a treatment) and there is no research on it for evidenced-based outcomes, but it appears to be helpful.
  • There is no cure for the adolescents with sex offending behaviors. The therapist go to intensive training. Outcomes for those adolescent who receive treatment are not 100%, but they are less likely to offend compared to those who don’t receive treatment.


I can connect you to those people who have additional training and experience with those two areas (substance-abuse) or (sex offending) if you’d like to have access to more information.



  1. Are there programs in other areas of the community (other than where you work) that focus on recreational activities to target individuals suffering from mental health issues?

We do have one outpatient recreation therapy program that uses horse-therapy.

One of my friends also offers online services at: http://www.MyRecreationTherapist.com

There are several outpatient and community-based recreational therapy programs across the United States.


  1. Given that mental health constitutes an important component of health care, do you feel it receives as much support as other areas of health care? Why? Why not?

I feel it gets a lot of support because there are a wide-range of professionals who work in mental health, including: psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors, clinical case managers, and recreational therapists. We’re not alone in promote mental health.


  1. What do you think would be the biggest challenge in using recreation programs to help patients with mental health issues?

Possibly advocating the importance of it. I do think having a good education component (Leisure Education) or sometimes (Psycho-Education) or sometimes life skills training is good to teach the importance of recreation with mental health and overall health and well-being.


  1. Are there any interventions that you are aware of that focus on recreation programs?

We use recreation as a treatment at our facility.

It isn’t so much about the recreation activity.

The focus is more on the outcomes.

In example- two different recreation activities could help a patient to achieve the outcome.


  1. What do you think would be the biggest challenge in using recreation programs to help patients with mental health issues?

Based on personal experience: safety concerns. Close supervision is required. A patient with mental health needs could steal recreation supplies to use for self-harm at a later point, or attempt to run-away on a community outing. There are so many more possibilities too.


  1. Do you think that physical activity could help people that suffer from a mental health problem? Please explain.

There is a lot of research that shows physical activity helps with promoting mental health benefits as well.

Psychiatrics often suggest physical activity and exercise help mood-stabilizers and other medicines to work.


  1. Do you have any knowledge of recreation therapy being used to help psychiatric patients?

Yes – we use recreation therapy at our psychiatric hospital.

The greatest number of Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS) work in mental/ behavioral health settings. Contact the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) for more information.


  1. How do you think the use of recreational therapy has evolved over the years?

It has evolved along with technology. I’ve worked in the field for 15-years.

There are Wii video games that help promote physical health and wellness.

The internet allows for patients to build a support system through sites like facebook.

There are good apps like fitbit that keeps track of how much a person has walked and calories burned.

One thing that has stayed consistent in our field is the APIE process of assessments, program/ treatment planning, implementing the activity-based/ recreation as an intervention, and evaluation the outcomes.


  1. Do you think there has been a shift in society’s attitudes/perception of people with mental illness? Explain.

One of the shifts is “people-first language.” Based on my experiences, I’ve heard people identified by their disorder, in example, “Here comes a borderline” for a person who has a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Would you say: “here comes a cancer? For a person who has cancer?” People first language example: Meet Sue. She is a person. She happens to have xyz.”

I do think there is less stigma. Years ago, in the U.S. there was a politician who wanted to be President and he was considered “un-electable” because he had talked to a counselor or psychologist. Of course, today, there are more rules about confidentiality and privacy. Overall, I think there is less stigma and concern about a person who talks to a mental health professional.


  1. How do you see the role of physical activity evolving over the next few years with respect to its use in the area of mental illness?

I’d recommend looking into information from WHO, The World Health Organization. They appear to have a greater focus on prevention of illness. I personally believe that we, recreational therapists have a great opportunity to intervene and be the leaders in preventative medicine.


  1. Could you comment on why there seems to be more young people today suffering from mental health issues?

There could be a lot of reasons. Some of them:

  1. Child suffered from abuse or neglect at an early age
  2. Child exposed to drugs/ substance abuse at an early age
  3. Increase in digital technology could be a concern if the child is spending too much time online and not enough time with real friends. Or if the child is being exposed to material online (violence, porn) or if parents are too busy on electronics and ignore child.

Those are just my ideas.



50 questions to ask a girl to really get to know her.

The thought catalog online has a neat list of questions by Nicole Tarkoff titled:

50 questions to ask a girl if you want to know who she really is.

Recreational Therapists often provide interpersonal skills training, social skills training, activities that help teach people how to build a positive social network, and other social-based activities.

Many recreational therapy interventions are group-based.

Recreational therapists may want to adapt these questions for their program:

50 Questions To Ask A Girl If You Want To Know Who She Really Is