Why I went for a Master’s degree in Recreation Therapy

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(C) CanStockPhoto

Part I: The undergraduate degree process:

Recreation Therapy became my career goal after doing a volunteer experience in 1999 at a rehabilitation hospital. I believe you can relate to having that same experience where you discovered recreation therapy and wanted to become a recreation therapists, too!

I graduated in August 2002 with a B.S. in Park Resources and Leisure Services with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

Careers opportunities were often far away. I sent applications and resumes to nearly 100 agencies in both of the Virginias and Carolinas.

Surprisingly, I got offered a position at a psychiatric hospital right in my own town of Huntington the very day after I completed my summer internship. It couldn’t have been any smoother. It was just perfect.

I worked part-time the first year and was able to secure a full-time position one year later in August 2003.

Part II: The graduate degree process:

I wanted to be the best recreation therapists that I could be. I wanted to learn more. I had hopes and dreams. I thought I’d even like to be an instructor for an undergraduate course at Marshall University! I searched online for graduate degree programs in recreation therapy. I discovered that Indiana University had a distant education program. Dr. David Austin was a professor there. I immediately knew I had to train and learn from Dr. Austin.

I was very fortunate, I was in the last class he had taught before he retired. It was a course on social psychology.

I completed my Master of Science degree in Recreation Therapy from Indianan University in December 2006. Marshall University closed their Therapeutic Recreation program that same semester, so I didn’t have an opportunity to teach in TR at Marshall.  I started my online CEU program, DannyPettry.com (Rec Therapy CEUs) several months after I completed my graduate degree.

Some thoughts on getting these degrees: 

  • I felt that my undergraduate degree (from Marshall University) had adequately prepared me for an entry-level position as a recreation therapist. I am very grateful Marshall University offered this program while I was a student there.

Here are some things I learned from gaining a graduate degree in Recreation Therapy:

  • Smart people aren’t necessarily the ones who earned a graduate degree. Based on my experiences, a graduate degree demonstrates that a person had determination and persistence. I knew people with undergraduate degrees in recreation therapy who I believe are smarter than I am (despite having a graduate degree). I often seek out those Recreation Therapists for consulting.

 

  • Graduate school is fun if you like reading, writing, lectures, and learning. I understand that many people are not fascinated by those topics. But I am, so that made it easier for me.

 

  • Consulting and training was covered in graduate school. I did internal consulting for the hospital where I worked full-time. I’ve also did volunteer consulting for a few other agencies. That is a good skill to have.

 

  • Professional networks are formed in graduate school. It is a great place to meet and network with other likeminded individuals. I’ve kept in contact with those friends for many years.

 

  • Recreation therapists are applied social psychologists. Dr. Austin had made a reference in one paper (which I can’t recall or I would pay attribution and cite the source) claimed that those of us in recreation therapy are applied social psychologists. This isn’t just for those recreation therapists working in behavioral health settings. Social psychology can be applied to community therapeutic recreation settings, physical rehabilitation, and for geriatrics.

 

  • Statistics is difficult for me. However, it is very important for research. Health care in the United States is expensive. Third party payers (like insurance companies) want to make sure that patients are getting results from treatment. They want outcomes. Research and statistics can help give evidence that recreation therapy interventions are successful at bringing about specific pre-determined outcomes.

 

  • Income might not immediately increase with a graduate degree. I didn’t get an immediate increase in salary for earning a graduate degree. This was covered in one of the courses I had taken in graduate school. Short-term gain might not be much. However, it plays a huge role in the long-term. Graduate degree + additional years of experience opens the door to many supervisor positions (if a person is wanting to advance in their career). Me? I don’t want to be a supervisor. I want to be a practitioner, doing the work. I had once applied for a supervisor position at a V.A. Hospital and was offered the position. It paid more too. I believe it would have been a rewarding job to help the Veterans who have done so much for our country. However, I felt I was at the right place, being a Recreation Therapist for children and adolescents with mental health and behavioral health needs.

Some thoughts about Recreation Therapy and Entry-Level Requirements:

Currently, a Master’s degree is not required for entry-level practice as a recreation therapist. It is noted that many of our allied professionals require a master’s degree to practice.

I personally think having an undergraduate degree as an entry-level requirement could make marketing our undergraduate programs easier. In example: Get a career helping people (as a Rec Therapist) with a four-year degree opposed to getting a career helping people (in another field) with six-year-degree.

Of course, the undergraduate degree program must adequately prepare the student for entry-level positions. I’d argue those programs should be accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Recreational Therapy Education (CARTE). 

Graduate degrees in Recreation Therapy are geared more towards preparing people to:

a.) become specialized in an a focus area (in example: behavioral health, physical rehab),

b.) become managers and supervisors; and

c.) preparing people to become consultants and trainers.

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The Time for Licensure in Rec Therapy is NOW!

By: Danny Pettry, M.Ed.,M.S.,  LPC, NCC, CTRS

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Copyright by Canstockphoto

What is regulation?

Credentialing bodies regulate what various professionals can and can’t do.

There are three types of credentials regulate recreational therapy practice.

  • Registration: This is simply a list of people in a given state or area who are allowed to practice or are currently practicing.
  • Certification requires a bit more than registration. Certification is still voluntary process. It is not required by law for a person to have certification to practice in rec therapy. However, many hospitals and agencies may require national certification. Some agencies may hire an individual with certification over a person who does not have it. Currently, recreation therapy certification is earned through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). Those who have met standards are allowed to be recognized as “Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists.”
  • Licensure is the highest form of regulation. This is where a person is required by law to have a license in order to practice. Four states currently require a Recreation Therapist to be licensed in order to practice.

 

Why do we want to regulate our own?

Who else will do it if we, recreation therapists don’t regulate our practice? Would we want this left up to allied professionals like social workers, nurses, speech therapists, teachers, etc.? I don’t think so.

I believe we, recreation therapists are best suited to regulate our own profession.

 

Who else requires a license?

Everyone else is doing it! That may give some social proof.

Here are some professions that require license in most states (if not all states)

Teachers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, mental health counselors, psychologists,  social workers, physicians, psychiatrists, Dieticians, Respiratory therapists.

Food handlers in West Virginia require a license.

Hairdressers in West Virginia require a license.

 

Some activities require a license:

Example: Driving a vehicle requires a license.

 

However, Recreation Therapy doesn’t require a license to practice in most areas and that is disturbing.

 

What is the number one goal of licensure?

The purpose of licensure is to protect the public.

A person with a license has met minimum qualifications to practice their profession. A license says they are legally allowed to practice.

  • Would you want to be treated by a physician who has not met the strenuous requirements for licensure? No. Why? Someone might get seriously hurt or die.
  • Would you want to be treated by a nurse who has not met requirements for licensure? No. Someone might get seriously hurt or die.

 

Licensing drivers is to protect the public. If a person is too visually impaired, has seizures are not licensed to drive. A person can have her (or his) licensed revoked if she (or he) has had too many tickets or a Driving under the Influence (DUI). This protects the public so innocent people won’t get hurt.

 

An unlicensed person could cause harm.

My personal belief: most people are good people who want to do good stuff in the world. However, competencies are required to do certain professions.

I can admit that I’m not competent to be a physician. I’ve not been to medical school. I’ve not trained. I’ve not been through their testing. I know I’m not able to be a physician. Am I a good person? I like to think so. Does being a good person mean competent to practice? Nope.

 

 

Care and nursing care are different.

Physical fitness and physical therapy are different.

Breathing and respiratory therapy are different.

Talking and speech therapy are different.

Recreation and recreation therapy are different, too.

 

Recreation therapists provide services for people with illness and disabling conditions. Recreation therapists provide services for people with developmental disabilities, physical limitations and needs, mental health needs.

It is important that recreation therapists have the knowledge and skills to provide services so a person doesn’t get hurt.

Here is an example: Let’s pretend a good-hearted person overhears that outdoor adventure therapy is the big hit. He decides to open up an outdoor adventure therapy program that has white water rafting in the summer, skiing and snowboarding in the winter, rock climbing in the autumn, and off trail biking and paint gun activities in the spring. Sounds great. However, he doesn’t have the training and experience needed to provide therapy services for people who use assisted devices like wheelchairs, or who have autism and are non-verbal. His good-hearted spirit may unintentionally cause someone to get hurt or possibly die in one of these activities. Then it goes on the news. Recreation therapists kills someone. And yet – none of those in the recreation therapy profession has heard of this individual who is claiming to be a recreation therapist.

We, recreation therapists, must regulate our own practice. We must have a license in place to protect the public. The license demonstrates an individual has met minimum requirements to practice. No other person can show up (even with the best of intentions) and start a recreation therapy practice unless they are licensed to do so.

 

What states have already achieved licensure?

These states include: New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Oklahoma. An individual is not allow to practice recreation therapy in those states without a license.

Congratulations to those states… they’re trailblazers who make it easier for future states. Recreation therapists in other states can talk to and model the systems used in those four states. That will save a lot of time and money and energy. You won’t have to reinvent the wheel.

 

 

What needs to happen now?

Groups of recreation therapists (in their own given U.S. state or Canadian Providence) must unite and start the process.

An easy place to start would be state recreation therapy associations. Get the message out there. And you, yes you, reading this blog post right now must be the person to get things rolling. Join your state association if you’re not already a member. Start the project.

Me: I worked hard on getting licensure in West Virginia for many years. I was surprised to find that the senior members of the former West Virginia Therapeutic Recreation Association (WVTRA) had got involved in legislation in the early 80s to get licensure for recreation therapists. However, it didn’t get completed for several reasons: finances, not enough rec therapists in the state, and who knows what other reasons. Bottom line: it didn’t get done. Please note that I do admire those professionals who came before me who attempted this process. There is a lot of learning that can happen from them.

I invited the representatives from North Carolina’s licensure board to speak at the West Virginia conference.

Despite many years of trying – we didn’t get a bill started.

I’m not giving up.

I’m determined and persistent.

 

Some states like Maine were real close to getting a license. First, Maine didn’t have an ATRA chapter. They created one for the sole purpose of getting a license to practice in Maine. The legislation passed all the way to the Governor’s office. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed the bill.

 

If I lived in Maine, I’d be working to do it again. Persistence is the key.

Plus – it is ethically the right thing to do.

The license could save somebody’s life.

MyRecreationTherapist.com is here!

New site Alert – just in time for recreational therapy month, too!canstockphoto10315926

Jeanne Hastings, (master’s level) CTRS has created a neat web-site, My Recreation Therapist:

http://www.myrecreationtherapist.com

It is a site that connects recreational therapists with consumers.

Clients can create an account and hire RTs

And RTs can create an account.

My thoughts: she is definitely a leader here. This is new. It isn’t anything copied or done before in our field.

Way to go Jeanne!

 

 

Some of my suggestions (and thoughts) for the site for Recreational therapists who use it:

  • Have informed consent from customer/ clients before providing online based recreational therapy services.
  • Follow ethics set by ATRA
  • Keep clients confidential – and remember to be cautious of leaking any confidential information online.
  • Practice in your own scope of practice for legal reasons
  • I question how license works for state to state? In example: would you need a license to provide online rec therapy to a person who lives in a state (that requires a license to practice?)
  • Carry your own personal liability insurance to be on the safe side. I use HSPO for my practice as a therapist and for my continuing education services that provide.

[0.1 CEUs] — Rec Therapy Month Webinar

rtmonthaFebruary is Rec Therapy Month!
I’m presenting a free webinar:
The difference between recreation activities and recreation therapy.
(0.1 CEU) provided.
Date: Wed. Feb. 1, 2017. Time: 7:00 p.m. (eastern time).
Of course, you already know the difference.
If you enjoy the webinar you can get access to replay the webinar at your facility to help educate your co-workers about recreation therapy.
best wishes.
your friend,
Danny.

Person with PTSD restored functioning – Thanks to Rec Therapy

Read this article about a Recreational Therapist who helped a person with PTSD. I really enjoyed this:

http://www.timestelegram.com/news/20161226/monday-morning-conversation-molly-healy-from-sitrin-center

 

Disclaimer: I’m not quite sure if I’d have any of my patients attend any of my personal events for boundaries. There might be times when it is appropriate. I’d check with ethics board/ team as well.

Origin of the Recreation Therapy (and certification) submitted by Kenneth Davis

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This blog was post submitted by Kenneth Davis for RecTherapyToday

  • The origin of the Recreation Therapy profession dates back to the early 80s when the first meeting of certification  was part of a national discussion.
  • Norma Stumbo, PH D was probably  key in developing a study guide for the  administration of the National exam given by athe National  Council for Thetapeutic  Recreation Certification now in New York.
  • Academic  development was with Dr. Scout Gunn PhD and Macia Carter, PhD and many others
  • My memory is that Dr.Peg Connelly  PhD and later a Bob Rilely, PhD  were very involved in promoting and developing the exam an making changes to the credentialing process.  Adding a staff for credentialing and having clear discussion on the job analysis http://nctrc.org/about-certification/national-job-analysis/
  • I believe, a national  testing service ETS was to review the exam before it was administered and Dr. Stumbo released a study guide later for the exam.  Additionally  individuals like Alice Burlingame were very involved in assessment  development with https://www.idyllarbor.com/. I known Alice for years and she has sold the business.
  • Additionally  Dr. Connie,Nall, and myself  worked with Leisure Scope.a developed tool for leisure assessment. Jean Forthworth, PhD  then at Central  Michigan University, and I had many discussion  on this including Dr. Marsha Cater at Michigan State University  in Lansing,  Michigan.
  • The exam and through careful developed and determining of the questions and submitting to a national testing service was critical.  Some of the concern  included accommodation for the exam for individuals with disabilities. I remember  Dr. Nancy Navar was also involved in this discussion. Dr. Navar is now retired from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse.
  • Ed Keegan , PhD  was also developing the program at Western Carolina University and Dr. Gerald O Morrow was reaching retirement .
  •  The National Recreation and Parks Administration  NTRS was developing their own certificate. It was a bit divided and most NRPA members were not in favor of a separate certification of a Governing Body to address this issue which was NTRS.
  • Many years had gone by until thongs were actually worked out with NTRS believe at least 10 years or more. Most Parks and Recreation majors in colleges did not understand this aspect of therapeutic recreation nor a need to have certification. But stardardard for placement  were just about all that wree in place at that time. http://www.recreationtherapy.com/history/rthistory3.htm
  • Yvonne Washington, was a central person addressing this discussion with NTRS  individually with the National  Recreation and Parks Association.  Later they had  the discussion which  moved to colleges and universities and  TR sections including the Virginia Therapeutic Recreation Section, which I was a part in the 80s with Besty Kennedy MA Ed at Old Domunnion with so many other TR’s addresses the exam at Radford  and Old Dominion University  and Virginia Commonwealth  University.
  • In the mid 80s schools like Michigan State, Wayne State, University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Texas  and University of Washington, Radford  and California State were all involved in promoting the national exam.  I do remember Mick and Lee being involved at Radford as well. In fact Lee was very gracious in ;coming to Marion Virginia where I was the department head to be involved in the selection position for a job I had written specifically for our agency.  At that time I worked for Marion Correctional Treatment Center a forensic facility in Southwestern Virginia.
  • Sharon Nicholas, MA CTRS  in New Hampshire whom I’ve known over the years and still in New Hampshire was working on explaining our value in the rehabilitation settings.  I kept in contact with Sharon while m working for the VA in Manchester New Hampshire and while at Health South in Concord New Hampshire,
  • I later moved from New Hampshire to Colorado  but in  Virginia with some knowledge of the happening in both the West and East Coast because I was in contact with Ann Houston.
  • Ann Houston, MPH, CTRS, became the President of ATRA, and this was after her leaving the VA in a Palo Alto, California.  Ann spearheaded ATRA  to a much larger need and audience. With its offices in Hattersburg,  Mississippi.
  • As a member of ATRA, I remember having many discussion with Kelly Dunbar, about the formation and direction of ATRA, and NCTRC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recreational_therapy?wprov=sfla1

  • ATRA, became very involved in therapeutic recreation both locally and on Capital Hill. During the Clinton administration health care reform years , The Joint Commission o established that lTR was a part of treatment.   Many of its members ATRA including myself went to Washington DC in 1980s  to speak on behalf of the organization to our local representatives dto educate  them on the three hour rule of health care reimbursment, which continues today

Kenneth Davis MA CTRS,  is now a Independent Therapeutic Educational Consultant and Chief Executive of tge Business  Educational Planning and Counseling Services LLC www.educational-planning-and-counseling.org

Kenneth  is a graduate of Pepperdine  University holding Masters in Educational Technology and Organizational Leadership currently Certified by NCTRS. Business Owner, CEO Educational Planning and Counseling Services Lives in Sun City Wesrt, Arizona

Special Kids – receives grant!

I interviewed Becky Bachelor, CTRS a few months ago to provide us with recreational therapy for children with special needs. I thought it was a great webinar. I found it very informative.

Becky works at “Special Kids,” in TN.

I was happy to see that a grant has been provided  to help kids.

The money from the grant (over $1,000) will go towards their “Play with a purpose” program.

The article provides an overview of what their Recreational Therapists do.

http://www.wgnsradio.com/special-kids-receives-nashville-predators-foundation-grant-cms-36312

One Good Reason Why Recreational Therapists Should Vote in Elections.

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(c) Can Stock Photo/ dcwcreations

The facts:

  • Recreational Therapists are often asked to participate in action alerts. This consists of contacting your U.S. Congress-person or Senator regarding issues and legislation pertaining to Recreational Therapy. A good example is: H.R. 1906: Access to inpatient rehabilitation act of 2015. This bill was sponsored by our very own U.S. Congressman G.T. Thompson (from Pennsylvania) who holds the “CTRS” credential. G.T. is a past president of ATRA too!

 

  • Voter records are public. These public records don’t disclose your political party (Independent, Republication, Democrat, etc.) It doesn’t disclose who you voted for. That too is confidential. The public record identifies if you vote or not.  Think of having a good credit score. Now imagine that people who vote have stronger voter-scores. They’re more powerful.

 

My Thoughts and Feelings:

  • I think it is vital for recreational therapists to vote. This is how our voice is heard.

 

  • Here is one good reason I think it is important to vote!

We, Recreational Therapists are our only advocates. Sometimes, we contact our elected officials to take action regarding legislation regarding our profession. Imagine if your elected official has a record that you’re not a voter or you rarely vote at all. What would they do with that knowledge? What would they do if they knew you voted in 100% of elections? I’d imagine they care about their constitutions (people in their district), especially those who vote.  They want to make that voters are happy.

 

  • My Request:  Go out and vote!

It is a day late. Elections are ending on the east coast. Some states may already have ended their elections.