Teaching Compassion

canstockphoto43756I provide services for children and teens with various mental health and behavioral health needs.

Some of their behavioral needs include targeting verbal aggression, physical aggression, destruction of property, self-harmful behaviors.

Interpersonal skills are taught to these children. Concepts like: giving up harmful choices. Developing empathy and concern for other people. Finding a healthy way to express thoughts and feelings. Being assertive opposed to passive or aggressive. Validating other people’s thoughts and feelings. Being an attentive listener. Learning to accept “no” for an answer.

We often do compassion training with local facilities.

In example, we have a local no-kill animal shelter.

  • Our children can donate their own extrinsic reward points to buy pet food, animal toys, and blankets. We take the kids to the shelter and let them take a tour.
  • Our children (who are in a psychiatric residential treatment setting) have often written letters to the elderly in nursing homes who are sick and lonely.
  • We play emotional movies (that are age-appropriate for children or teens) and have a discussion on being empathetic with characters in the movie.

I  thought this Huffington Post article on “8 ways to teach compassion” was a good article to read:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/signe-whitson/8-ways-to-teach-compassio_b_5568451.html 

Bulletproofing Recreational Therapy

A book Review of Stephen Viscusi’s (2008) book, Bulletproof your job

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Licensed permission to use image from (c) CanStockPhoto

  • Viscusi, S. (2008). Bulletproof your job: 4 simple strategies to ride out the rough times and come out on top at work. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Book Review By: Danny Pettry

            Politicians often say, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu” to argue the importance of being involved. Those people who are not at the table and not involved risk having their services being “cut” and discontinued by those people that are involved.

Recreational therapists need to be involved and have a seat at the table to bulletproof their job. However, the focus of the profession is not about saving our own jobs. It is about the people that receive recreational therapy services. Our job in being involved consists of making sure people (consumers of recreational therapy) are getting the greatest outcomes. The focus is on ensuring and advocating that consumers are getting access to these cost-efficient recreational therapy services that are bringing about functional outcomes.

Health care services cost a lot of money. Those services that are not bringing about measurable outcomes are deemed not necessary. Those services risk being cut and discontinued. Recreational therapy has evidenced-based research that supports what we do. It is vital that recreational therapists are involved, having a seat at the table, and active in advocating for the consumers of recreational therapy services.

Stephen Viscusi (2008) points out four strategies people can use to keep their job. This book review outlines Viscusi’s four simple strategies and provides additional focus for those people who are professional Recreational Therapists to be involved (at a national public policylevel)

Viscusi’s (2008) four simple strategies to bulletproofing a job consist of being:

  1. Visible;
  2. Easy;
  3. Useful; and
  4. Ready

Recreational therapists could apply Viscusi’s (2008) four simple strategies in order to advocate for our professional services and the outcomes that they help achieve.

 

Being Visible

            Viscusi (2008) points out the importance of being seen. Viscsi argues that this means seen doing the right things. Appearance must be professional. Employee must show up on time for work (or early) and do extra. The employee must be consistently hardworking, providing real value to the company. The employee is seen as going the extra mile to volunteer to lead special projects.

Recreational therapists do a lot of these already. They are passionate, genuine, enthusiastic, positive, polite, considerate, good listeners.

Some tips for Recreational Therapists to be visible:

Get involved in public policy with the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). Be a leader and volunteer to take initiative to organize efforts (at a state level for your own state and on a national level). Be present (by having a seat at the table) by participating in public policy. Send ATRA an email and ask how you can help with public policy in your state and at a national level.

 

Being Easy

            Viscusi (2008) points out the importance of being easy. This concept is based on being easy to get along with opposed to being the difficult employee. Difficult employees whine, complain, and make things miserable for others. Employers are more likely to get rid of difficult employees.

Recreational therapists as a whole often demonstrate the characteristics of being easy-going.  These concepts consist of being calm and collect, having a positive attitude, being flexible, and agreeable.

            Some tips for Recreational Therapists on being easy:

Get involved in your professional organization: The American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). Apply your easy-going skills towards making new connections and networking with other professionals. Demonstrate a positive attitude and volunteer to help the professional association with tasks.

 

Being Useful

            Viscusi (2008) argues that being useful is a key to keeping a job. This consists of doing more than what you’re expected to do. Sometimes they call it “going the extra mile.” It is doing “extra credit” work when you already have a solid A+ grade. Being useful is about helping the company reach goals. It is the opposite of blaming and making excuses when job responsibilities are not completed. It is quite easy for a company to le employees like this go.

 

Some tips for Recreational Therapists on being useful:

Become a specialist. Go above and beyond your entry-level Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) offers five specialty certifications, including: behavioral health, physical medicine and rehab, developmental disabilities, geriatrics, and community. Specialists provide additional value to the company. A person with the specialization could be sought out for advice in their area of expertise. They could assist with training others in the company.

 

Being Ready

            Viscusi (2008) argues the importance of being prepared and ready. Changes happen all the time. Anything can happen. People that are prepared are the ones who are going to come out on top. Those people that are not prepared are going to be the ones that are left behind or let go.

Some tips for Recreational Therapists to be ready:

Our world is changing. Health care is changing as well. Recreational therapists need to be knowledgably of what is happening in the world, in health care, and in their own profession. Consider going the extra mile to earn a graduate degree or a doctorate. One change our profession is facing is the shortage of qualified people to teach undergraduates and graduate students.

 

Conclusion

            There are things a single individual person can do to bulletproof her (or his) own job. Viscusi (2008) did an excellent job arguing how being visible, easy-going, useful, and prepared can be beneficial.

Recreational therapists as a whole could apply Viscusi’s (2008) concepts to bulletproof the profession. There is an old story about four bulls and one hungry tiger. The tiger could easily take out any one single bull. However, the four bulls put their back tails together. They form a circle and watch out for each other. The tiger is not able to get any one single bull when they have their horns out and form a circle. The tiger gets them when they are alone.

Recreational therapists are more vulnerable when they are alone. However, they do not need to be alone. We have a professional association that forms a circle. However,  recreational therapists must join the circle (the association) in order to be involved.

Recreational therapists can be:

  • Visible when they are part of a group association
  • Easy-going by working with others in the profession and building a network of professional friends.
  • Useful by volunteering to work on the many roles and responsibilities of the national association.
  • Ready for what changes happen next. The association will spread the knowledge through their email network to those involved.

 

Bibliography

  • Viscusi, S. (2008). Bulletproof your job: 4 simple strategies to ride out the rough times and come out on top at work. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

 

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Danny Pettry is a full-time practitioner. He has provided services for children with abuse-reactive needs at a psychiatric residential treatment facility since 2002. Pettry has graduate degrees in Mental Health Counseling (Linsey Wilson College, Columbia, Kentucky, 2012) and Recreational Therapy (Indianan University, Bloomington, Indiana, 2006). Pettry is a lifetime member of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). Pettry is not a hired representative, elected member, or spokesperson for the association. This blog is written by Danny Pettry (an individual).

Volunteer with your State and National TR associations! Join ATRA!

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Sorry about the blurry image – my old school digital camera is going out.

Karen Bone, CTRS (left in picture above) and Debbie Tiger (M.S., CTRS) (right in picture above)  co-presented on “Benefits of involvement in state and national therapeutic recreation organizations” on Sun. 9/11/16 (10:00 a.m.) at the American Therapeutic Recreation Association annual conference in Chicago.

I had the opportunity to attend this session!

There were very few people in attendance, which I felt discouraging.  I think more people need involved in our associations.

Those who did attend were already highly involved in their state and national organizations.

The speakers were both president-elect for their state associations.

This session focused on:

  • benefits of being involved in organizations (state or national)
  • Barriers to becoming involved

They played an inspirational TED talk on volunteering by Tuan Nguyen , which gave me some great ideas. He argues that giving back and volunteering is a great way to reach your professional goals.

Here is the video:


Here are some of the benefits Nguyen argued that a person receives for volunteering:

It increases:

  • Gratitude
  • Passion
  • Creativity
  • Efficient
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Leadership
  • Positive energy.

Who else wants to those benefits?

 

Danny Pettry comments: There are two ways you volunteer for your profession. These are : time and money. You can give money to your professional association (membership) and other special causes (buy membership for a student or intern). Donate your time by writing articles, serving on the board, assisting with a conference.

 

The speakers had completed research through the listserv and contacting associations to get feedback from members.

Here are some benefits for state involvement:

  • Get acknowledgement
  • Combine resources – stronger
  • Discover career opportunities
  • Collaborate on issues
  • Students can discover internships
  • Help work on state policy, laws, licensure,
  • Advocate for clients
  • Gain new skills and perspective
  • Make impact on profession by giving back
  • Network and meet with other professionals.

Here are some benefits for national involvement:

  • Mentor others
  • Develop skills
  • Meaningful lasting friendships
  • Get codes, standards, scope of practice
  • Know what is going on in the profession
  • Network
  • New skills
  • Personal and professional growth
  • Know current practices

 

Here is a link where you can join ATRA if you haven’t done so already.

https://www.atra-online.com/members/join

Here is an ATRA link with state TR organizations for you to join your state or local area association:

https://www.atra-online.com/connect/chapter-affiliates

Disclaimers and other notices: I [Danny Pettry] am a lifetime member of ATRA. I’m not hired or paid by the organization. I do volunteer my money (membership) and my time (presenting articles, participating on special committees (public policy and TR month), reviewing Peg Connolly student application essays, write articles for the newsletter, going to the hill to talk to lawmakers in my state about rec therapy. I don’t get paid to do those things. I do it because I love my profession and I want to make a difference. Although my own state, West Virginia disbanded their state branch of ATRA, I am still involved in personally setting up a state conference every two years for recreational therapists in the West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky tristate area.