To rec therapy or to not rec therapy…

That is the question. I have my certification and can include CTRS behind my name, but that’s about the extent of it. I haven’t mentioned anything about RT here in this space since January (when I was enthusiastically trying to make an RT blog) because I’m not currently working as a therapist or providing services to anyone, nor have I been actively pursuing any continuing education credit given that I had no income until a little over a month ago.

My membership with the RT group in my state has lapsed, and soon my ATRA membership will as well. I’ve been contemplating about renewing both of these, and putting money into continuing education credits. Or perhaps I need to save that money for student loan payments, or the move-out fund of my current living situation with one of my parents, because I cannot work full-time as an RT (or likely anything else).

This has been such a hard thing for me to accept; trying to decipher if it is true or I’m being lazy – not wanting to do the work. Considering I’ve already been let go from one full-time RT position and almost failed to finish my full-time internship last year, I’m trying to reconcile that I have, in fact, tried. Multiple times now, and it hasn’t turned out well no matter how hard I pushed myself or how desperately I wanted to be successful.

Irrational Fears? Or not?

I can admit that there are certain populations I’m afraid to work with now. Not because I am afraid of those individuals or don’t think I could work with them (although maybe there’s something there as well…), but the baggage of negative feedback and unexpected failures has me worrying. What if I had one too many difficult clients in a day (or just one particularly challenging session), and I slip up and forget to document or cause harm to whoever follows that? Or if I physically burn out within a couple months, trying to keep up, but finding myself stuck. I’ve made progress in my own emotional regulation, but as I learned just last week, trying to suppress emotions (of any kind) for too long can still put me into a cataplexy attack. Apparently thinking I was keeping calm while being berated on the phone by a pushy salesman was an illusion, because soon the familiar feeling of a suppressed emotion permeated throughout and I knew I had overdone it. I ignored this for another hour at work, but eventually relented and asked to go sit for a minute in the back. A minute turned into 25 and some fussing-over from my two co-workers who had not yet seen one of my attacks.

Hell, after my last failed job attempt it would be easy for social anxiety to take hold and convince me I can’t work with anyone and that I’m a liability as a therapist. That I’m more likely to slip-up than anyone else, be reprimanded, let go (which, in itself, doesn’t bother me), but then I become a greater burden on those around me.

More selfish admissions…

I’d like to think that I’m special (don’t we all? Just me?). Or more specifically, that I’m meant for more. I want to contribute to something larger than myself – to even lead or teach others about it – and I move forward with the mindset that I (with copious help) can make that happen. That I have this potential and all these ideas and knowledge and experience that is ever expanding/contracting/refining/failing, just searching for the right resources to start acting on what I’ve learned. “More” doesn’t equal famous; I have little to no desire to be a household name. I just want to walk my talk and be respected in whatever my area is, be a resource for others and sure, create/co-create something that lasts a lot longer than me.

I’ve trying all sorts of things in this odd in-between I’ve found, somewhere between college and… what? Is it recreation therapy? Sociology, psychology, sleep disorders, narcolepsy specifically, or sleep advocacy? Furthering my equestrian skills and expertise? All three? Just two? None of the above?

The latest is dipping into vocational rehab and starting back into riding lessons. Voc rehab is a rather slow process to get going, but after getting the initial bureaucracy taken care of, I met with my first employment coach of several and am open to wherever it takes me. The riding has brought me immense joy and reconnected me with an old friend at, funnily enough, the very stable I first sat on the back of a horse. I am also cautiously optimistic about the opportunities this could lead to, but mainly, I’m just enjoying it for now, which is something I could stand to apply to these other areas I’ve written about as well.

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The Whats and Whys of an RT Blog

I watched a video with Dan Rather and Richard Edelmen this week (well, I watched a little bit, but mostly was listening to it like a podcast – it’s a bit lengthy).

Jeremy Skule hosted the two for a discussion on the current trustworthiness of media. Basically, it is at an all time low. There was talk about what’s being challenged, what journalism/media could do to start building that trust back up, how to escape the echo-chamber that’s shrunk to fit only one person in the past year, and questions from the audience.

And what, exactly, does this have to do with recreation therapy?  I can kind of relate to feeling like you have to prove your worth. Thankfully, there isn’t a mass distrust of RT, but my experience is that I regularly have to prove my expertise and value of contribution around mostly anyone who isn’t an RT (or who already works closely with one). Another difference is that I’ve never been accused of deceiving; I’ve seen opinions of RTs dismissed, but not attacked as wrong. So, in my eyes, journalism appears to be a harsh (and certainly more visible) place to be right now.

At the very end, Dan Rather gives this advice on what the media might need to do in order to change:

There has to be a re-dedication to the idea of service for others. You know, I come out of television. But there has to be… this re-dedication to the sense of “I want to contribute to something, other than just myself. I want to belong to something that’s worthwhile, that’s bigger than myself.” This sense of “listen, I want to do the right thing.”

And then Edelmen follows with this:

Instead of believing that you can do things for the people, you have to do things with people. You have to tell them why, and how and when and where. They don’t believe you anymore unless you tell them specifically, and let them participate.

Hopefully this is starting to sound more applicable.

Based on the above, I want to lay out my intentions for this little project. Why am I doing this? Is there something I’m hoping to accomplish or am I wandering aimlessly? How do you know if I’m a credible source if I’m trying to accomplish something? Is what I write going to be biased or skewed a certain way? (yes, it’s unavoidable)

1. Why am I doing this?

Basically, I want this to be a contribution to bettering the profession through more meaningful online discussion. Any knowledge and connections gained through this should also improve my practice as a therapist. Ideally, other RT voices will feel compelled to participate, share, and learn.

I think I’m a decently credible source – I have my CTRS credentials, have volunteered/worked with as many different populations as possible over the past 4-5 years (though I recognize just as many that I couldn’t feign expertise in), and know how to be seek out, interpret, and apply credible scientific research (and what to do if I can’t access that *one* article). This is not supposed to be my resume however, so moving along.

2. How?

First, by sharing a well-thought-out and intentional piece of writing on a regular basis. Accomplishing this may prove challenging, as I am an excellent second-guesser of both finished work and not-yet-started ideas.

In addition, I hope these writings become provoking enough to warrant some comment discussion. I don’t expect that at first. After some practice though, perhaps you think of something else that could be useful to add, challenges a point I made, or elicits a question – that others can benefit from (or think of something else because of your contribution). Those kinds of thoughts and points could lead to guest posts to offer more points of view, and eventually, a podcast interview/discussion piece.

3. When?

Said piece of writing will be a weekly occurrence. As mentioned, this will likely prove challenging, but I’m doing this crazy thing called planning and by stating this multiple times, I am that much more accountable (win-win).

4. Where?

Well here of course! That’s not all though – I’m also a contributor over at The Mighty, which is a useful site for just about any RT, and I’m learning from a variety of perspectives over at Medium (if you click, you can see articles from other people that I recommend). I want to write something for each of these places once a month so I can connect to people outside of rec therapy. More ambition, but totally doable if I actually use my fancy planner.

I’m also going to schedule the time to visit all the places I have listed on the new RT Blogs & Resources page. If I’m not supporting others, but am expecting them to come to me, that isn’t accomplishing anything. I may not read every single post (some of you post a lot!), but I will make the time to regularly drop in.

5. So what?

Someone commented on my first post that they were going to start their own RT blog. Maybe my post helped, but it’s an individual choice. And staying committed is no small feat, but I will encourage anyone who wants to try something. That’s why doing these things with others, and not just for them, makes such a difference. It’s why in practice we aim to assist as needed, but not take our client’s place of choice and autonomy. Do it with them, until they can do it on their own (to whatever degree is appropriate). I recognize that I’m the only one benefiting from this blog, unless there are readers; that’s simple. Communicating in a way that provokes a reader to write something in return, that benefits both (and others), will be the challenge.

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Who’s Blogging in Recreation Therapy?

whosbloggingrt-1

I made this to get an idea of who’s engaged online in our field. I want to know who’s speaking up,  who’s getting what done – the kind of people I want to connect with, and who know what’s going on in our field. Not all of the blogs below are exclusively dedicated to RT – there were actually more blogs not updated in the past year than were. Does everyone need a blog? Not if you don’t want to! However, for those in smaller communities, or who are the only RT at their facility, I feel like blogging (or at least reading/engaging with other RTs blogging) would be an exciting opportunity to learn* and connect, and even teach! YOU surely know something that another RT doesn’t – share the knowledge!

*Just as a disclaimer, I’m not presenting any of the information in the blogs that follow as fact/law, replacement of clinical knowledge, etc. This is to connect with others in the profession, see other perspectives, and perhaps gain ideas or inspiration for future application.

Current Bloggers in Recreation Therapy – Updated Sept!

You’ll notice I give each of the blogs in this category a tagline. They did not ask for these taglines, and are entirely my own opinion. However, they are all meant in good humor, and if anyone has an issue, feel free to leave a comment below and I can address any concerns.

 

The “New Kids on the Block” blog

New in the sense that I’ve just learned about these two rec therapists from California thanks to them reaching out (Garcia and Pisciotta are their last names by the way). I’ve still got a good deal to look through on their site, but they’ve got a podcast (!!), some practical articles and appear to have been publishing content fairly regularly for the past several months – all positives and definitely something others should check out!

The “Young One We’re All Rooting For” blog

I refrained from using “newbie,” but just barely. Why is this young one first on the list? Because she most exemplifies what today’s blogging environment is like. She’s got attractive graphics, an organized layout, posts that are very “pinnable,” and she’s got a ton of tags that will help others find what she’s writing about. Also, she’s still in school.

Not even graduated, and look at her contributing to the profession! I put her first, because if you are thinking about making a blog, this is closest to what is successful in the blogging world, regardless of topic, and this blog has a lot of potential. I had the pleasure of introducing myself to Julie over Facebook message, and got to talk with her a little bit about what she hopes to do with her blog. Girl is ambitious, and deserves to hear from and be supported by others in the field for what she’s doing.

The “CSPAN of Rec Therapy” blog

To be clear, the descriptor for this blog is not negative!  Danny Pettry has had this for less than a year, but already boasts an impressive amount of content. This is because he is posting multiple times a day with anything RT related in the news, in legislation, in research, and personal experiences. Is it the fanciest? No, but neither is CSPAN. This blog is doing the grunt work of finding current events and relevant content that nobody else is, on a consistent basis, and I applaud anyone willing to be a trailblazer.

The “Answer to All of Your Evidenced-Based Problems” blog

Not only do they have almost 30 pages of archived studies/reviews themselves (organized by categories!), they also have a super-handy page giving you steps to start employing EBP AND links to a large (20+) number of related open-source websites. Can you always see entire studies? No, life would be much too easy. However, making an account at somewhere like Mendeley* would allow you to save that abstract in case you get access later.

*I’m not endorsing Mendeley, but I do use it because it’s free, easy to connect with other researchers (hit me up if you join, my network is sparse!), and even easier to just drop things into your library (no entering citations!)

The “History Lesson You Didn’t Know You Wanted” blog

As far as I know this gets the longest running blog award, having been started by Hoosier RT at a time when MySpace was the most visited site on the internet, we were already sick of Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day,” and I was finishing up my first year in middle school. Today the posts are mostly position openings, but stroll down the rabbit hole of archives and you’ll find quips of wisdom and holiday celebrations sprinkled throughout a sense of what the profession’s culture and trends were 3, 5, even 10+ years ago.

The “Goody-Two-Shoes” blog

I’m going to be blunt here for a minute. I feel like Craig is kind of the golden child of RT; rec therapy is a central part of their practice and they do SO MANY COOL TRIPS and have access to what seems like ALL THE THINGS. It’s easy to look at their outings and fancy adaptive equipment and want to throw your hands up because you could never do this kind of stuff with your clients (or is that just me?).

But.

Did you know Craig started as a tent colony in 1907? I sure didn’t. Further, there is no mention of therapeutic recreation on their timeline until 1975, some 68 years later. If that is indeed when it actually started, they’re now in their 42nd year of perfecting this (and maybe it’s been longer and it just didn’t get mentioned). I would hope they are as good as they are after that amount of time. Another perspective, their program started before ‘recreation therapist’ was even included in the “Dictionary of Occupational Titles” (assuming this is a BLS predecessor?) So, be happy for them. Learn from them. They didn’t start out with a world-class program, this took time.

The “You Really Need To Visit To Understand” blog

While the blog is more “what’s going on” around this 2,300 acre Outdoor Center of IU’s School of Public Health, anyone who’s involved in adventure or equine modalities could gain some nuggets of knowledge perusing around their website. Their commitment to universal design allows success with clients of all ability levels, and varying degrees of health. Having volunteered there one summer during a camp specifically for kids treated at a particular children’s hospital, I think the most valuable thing to do is just visit and ask questions if you have the chance, even if it’s just for a day.

The “More Useful Than You Thought It’d Be” blog

OK, so I’ve only seen one article by a CTRS here, who also happens to be a physical therapist. A bit of a stretch, yes? However, looking through this blog you’ll also find occupational therapists, RNs, M.Ds, PhDs, MPHs, and the topics they’re writing on are things CTRSs also deal with. Dancing for Parkinson’s? Right up our alley. Working with someone who has MS? Want to do art and not sure where to start? Hit these people up and just ask questions. Apply to our field.  You probably have something to teach as well.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

In no particular order.

Remember how Danny Pettry’s blog has been up for less than a year? Well he’s also had this website for 10 years now. Based on the welcome video and the courses page, you can see what’s NCTRC approved and get some other free goodies as well.

These guys also have NCTRC certified credits, at what looks like very reasonable prices.

Rec Therapy Blogs not Updated in the Past Year

I include the blogs below because while they may not be current, they still have relevant information and treatment ideas that could be useful for a variety of areas.

Recreation Therapy to Create a Better Life

Rec Therapy Ideas

Northwest RT Community

Therapeutic Recreation Blog


So, now that you’ve perused a few…

What do you think? Does this make you want to start your own blog? Are these resources helpful? Do we need more of this, or is our time better spent on other things? I’d love to hear from others, whether it’s a compliment, critique, or something else.

Next post I’ll talk about why I’m even doing this and some current ideas of where I want to go with my recent blog-makeover.

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