How to keep your job.

How do you keep your job or better yet – get a promotion?


Traditionally – the answers are simple:

  • Show up for work.
  • Do a good job.


And yet many times the good, hard-working people are the ones who lose jobs.


There was an (2017, Sept 6) article posted at CNN money that pointed out “Lego slashed 1,400 jobs as sales slump.” Last month (2017, Aug 10), USA Today reported that “As many as 160 Applebee’s and IHOP locations to close.” Last year (2016, Sept 5), The Daily Caller, reported that 83,000 coal jobs were lost and 400 mines shuttered. My brother-in-law and many other family members (here in West Virginia lost their coal mining jobs that supported their families). Many companies closed during the financial crisis (2008 to 2009) like Circuit City. Borders Bookstore closed in 2011.


I feel certain that there were many people, employees at Lego, Applebees, IHOP, Coalminers, Circuit City, Borders bookstore, and many other places who showed up, did their job, and still lost their job.

It isn’t fair, but it happens.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) teaches a skill called, “Radical Acceptance,” to help ease the suffering. You don’t have to like what happened, but you accept the situation for what it is to avoid prolonged suffering and dwelling about something that can’t be changed.


The good news is that that The Economist rated recreational therapy as the least likely profession to be replaced by technological advancement and automation within the next two decade.


But is that is the report at The Economist enough to give you a feeling of career safety?


canstockphoto40344627 (2)

(C) Canstockphoto

I often think of  the (1998) movie, Primary Colors when I read or hear about companies closing.  John Travolta plays a Governor from a southern state who is running for President of the United States. In one scene the Governor is speaking to a group of people (mostly men) who had lost their jobs at a factory. Governor (played by Travolta) told them: “No politician can re-open this factory or bring back the shipyard jobs.” He goes on to tell how many of those jobs went to other countries that have cheaper labor. The Governor gives people advice.

He said: “We need to get smarter and learn new skills.”


My brother-in-law, who I spoke about earlier in this blog post (above) had lost his job as a coal-miner. Those jobs aren’t coming back, at least no time soon. He is going back to school to become a nurse. That is a job that is definitely going to be around. He is working at getting smarter and learning new skills.  

My question for you: What are you doing to get smarter and learn new skills?

Here are some ideas for recreation therapists like you:

  • Read the Therapeutic Recreation Journal
  • Read the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) newsletter
  • Attend an ATRA conference (unfortunately the one next week in Orlando, Florida has been postponed due to Hurricane Irma to keep people safe.
  • Attend a conference in a related field: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Mental Health Counseling, Play Therapy, or others.
  • Read a newly revised textbook in recreation therapy or an allied profession.
  • Take a self-study CEU course at my site: 
  • Take an advanced self-study professional certificate at:
  • Take a graduate level college course. One college course counts for about 45 out of the 50 clock hours of continuing education required for the five-year CTRS recertification cycle. Of course, as a disclaimer, contact NCTRC for official information about that.

Delivering Happiness [the Zappos Way] — A Model for Rec Therapy Service Delivery


(c) CanStockPhoto

A Personal Reflection, Review, and Suggestion for Rec Therapy Application of

Tony Hsieh’s (2010) book, Delivering Happiness, with applications to Rec Therapy Practice


Hsieh, T. (2010). Delivering happiness: a path to profits, passion, and purpose. New York: Business Plus.

By Danny Pettry

Seth Godin is one of my favorite authors. I read everything he writes and almost everything he recommends. Godin said this about Tony Hsieh’s “This book is funny, true, important, and useful. Just like Tony.” I decided to read the book.

Tony Hsieh became the CEO at Zappos at the age of 24. Zappos originally sold shoes online. The company now claims to provide customer service and happiness as well as many other online items. Today, the company is owned by Amazon.


Hsieh’s book has three sections.

These include:

Part I: Profits

Part II: Profits and Passion

Part III: Profits, Passion, and Purpose.


Reading is the secret. Hsieh shares this right in the preface that, “at Zappos, we encourage our employees to read books from our library to help them grow, both personally and professionally.”  Here at Rec Therapy CEUs, we also encourage recreational therapists to read books for the same reason.


A Review of Part I: Profits

                Hsieh provides an autobiography of his own life as an entrepreneur.  I personally enjoyed Hsieh’s concept of poker in business.

Hsieh suggests:


  • Play [poker] games you understand. It is hard to win at a game a person does not know well. “This reminds me of effective recreational therapy practice. Provide interventions that you have had training and experience to provide.
  • Remember you always change tables. Recreational therapists might realize they are not happy or as successful in a certain area and they may want to work towards moving into a position they are better suited for. I have often heard recreational therapists say they would never want to work with a certain population and to realize they have a strong passion for it once they have tried it out.

There is a bigger purpose at play

Hsieh shared, “research from the field of happiness would confirm that the combination of physical synchrony with other humans as part of something bigger than one self leads to greater happiness.”

This appears to be the case with recreational therapy. We, too, are working on a team with many other professionals to help patients. I feel there is something “bigger” to everything we do in life. There is a greater purpose.

Profit is best achieved when a person understands what they are doing (competency), has a passion for it (loves it), and feels they are (part of something bigger).

Rec therapists can be successful as well when they develop continued competencies to do their job and to continue to grow and following passion. Recreational therapists may want to think that their purpose is beyond simply working for xyz hospital, or making a salary, or being a recreational therapist. Recreational therapists may want to seek out something bigger.


A Review of Part II: Profits and Passion

                Profits are important. Hospitals (where most Recreational Therapists) work need profits in order to stay afloat. Valuable services are provided when a hospital is profitable. Those that go out of business are no longer providing services for the community.

Hsieh discusses times when Zappos struggled with profits. He was real with the staff, letting them know the importance of getting back to being profitable.

  • Provide better customer service.

This goes far beyond just being good to customers. It includes being good to everyone, like the vendors. All people are treated well.

Hsieh provides a list of 10 ways to instill customer service into your company on page 147.

In a nutshell, these concepts included: everyone in the company is responsible for customer service, WOW people, empower employees to provide great services, be real (no upselling or phony scripts) in conversations, customer calls are a way to build rapport, hire people who love customer service, all people get customer service.

I personally believe recreational therapists are people (in general) who are already good at heart and treat people well.


  • It is not about selling shoes at Zappos. It is bigger.


This is a lot like saying, it is not about the “Activity” in recreational therapist. It is about meeting the target goals the patient has, such as increased stamina, increased interpersonal skills, and increase independence in identified functional areas.


Ask Anything  – an open culture

 Zappos has an open, transparent culture. Employees can ask the company anything (with or without using their name). These questions and answers are emailed monthly.

An employee could ask:

  • Is the company profiting?
  • When is the holiday party or company picnic
  • Where is the company going to be in three years?
  • When is national ice cream day?

Recreational therapists could encourage this process to take place at their facility, pending the administration is open to it. Recreational therapists could give them a copy of Hsieh’s book.


  • As you grow, you might need to move “to a bigger [poker] table

Zappos started to provide more accessories beyond shoes.

Recreational therapists may want to strive to provide more services beyond recreational therapy for customers. Recreational therapists may want to supervise interns, provide trainings for fellow staff, and organize events for hospital / agency employees in effort to boost morale (pending administration approves).


Have Core Values

There company solicited values from employees. Some of the values were overlapping. They narrowed it to this list:

The Ten Core Values at Zappos include:


1.)    Deliver WOW Through Service

2.)    Embrace a Drive Change

3.)    Create Fun and a Little Weirdness

4.)    Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

5.)    Purse Growth and Learning

6.)    Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

7.)    Build a Positive Team and Family Spirt

8.)    Be Passionate and Determined

9.)    Be Humble.


Hospital/ agencies often have their own list of values. Do employees actually know what they are? Do they buy into it?

Recreational therapists could take the initiative and choose to be leaders in the company core values. Recreational therapists could volunteer to help develop these values for their company if they are not already created. Of course, I am idealistic. I understand that recreational therapists are often already pretty busy people. And I’d like to point that Hsieh suggested, “do more with less.”

Recreational therapists could create their own personal values for work.

At my hospital, we have “WOW cards.” Anyone can fill one out by identifying a staff and writing why they provided a wow.

At my own company, Rec Therapy CEUs shares several of those same values such as: have a growth mindset and being determined and passionate and of course being humble.


Employee Training at Zapppos

                Zappos provides courses for their staff. These include: communication skills, coaching, science of happiness, leadership, public speaking, stress management, manager orientation, time management, grammar and writing, how to write effective emails, and many more topics. Employees can receive pay rate increases for completing courses as well.


A Review of Part III: Profits, Passion, and Purpose

                This was the smallest chapter. The focus was on “taking it to the next level.” It felt very Rogarian in the style of Carol Rogers. The three basic tips were: be passionate, tell personal stories, and be real.

Two books suggested were: Good to Great and Tribal Leadership.




Hsieh, T. (2010). Delivering happiness: a path to profits, passion, and purpose. New York: Business Plus.


Important Message for RTs

canstockphoto15913215 Rec Therapy CEUs can help you to develop your potential as a Rec Therapist

Here are some facts to know:

  • 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book after college.
  • 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
  • 70% of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
  • 57% of new books are not read to completion.

Statistics from (2003) study by the Jenkins Group


Danny’s important message for RTs: don’t be part of those statistics. Rec Therapy CEUs encourages recreational therapists to read more books. It’s a powerful thing to do.

Register for a self-study CEU course today to get your CEU credit for reading interesting books that will hop you to grow both as a person and a professional.

Go to this link to see what courses we have for you:

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