Therapeutic recreation is an exciting field that gives patients hope to improve their quality of life. A famous recreational therapist Cathy O’Keefe noted in “An Essay for Students Interested in Therapeutic Recreation” that many people do not understand the purpose of this profession. Therapeutic recreation can be defined as the implementation of planned activities for clients “to produce recreational and leisure experiences that lead them to experiencing what are the optimal levels of health for them as individuals” (Austin et al. 2). Indeed, it allows patients to participate in activities beneficial for their health.
The professionals in this field strive to reduce stressors for their clients to improve their physical and mental health. Furthermore, recreational therapists work with disadvantaged groups to free them from emotional traumas caused by their background (O’Keefe). This occupation is not only about assisting people in their journey of regaining health; it is also about helping patients with terminal illnesses to accept and adjust to their fate (Austin et al. 5). The purpose of this essay is to articulate why I have chosen therapeutic recreation and discuss the goals and interests in my future career.
I came to this field to participate in the noble mission of this profession to support and heal. It may sound pompous and selfish, but it is the most important thing I like about recreational therapy because helping and supporting others nourishes me spiritually. Moreover, I become excited to observe how people change their lifestyle or attitude after a recreational program that improves their existence somehow.
Therapeutic recreation “contributes not only to improved functioning but also to the more essential human experience – meaning and value” (O’Keefe). However, it is a challenging task to inspire patients who lost hope. Therefore, I think that, in this field, I will need to offer positive energy, enthusiasm, empathy, and unbending fate. The latter is essential for those people whose destiny has already been determined by the relentless five-year survival statistics.
The inciting event that led me to this path happened during my senior year at high school when our old neighbour developed Parkinson’s disease, and I was the main person who looked after him. I remember reading about this disease and treatment methods during my free time. Although doctors prescribed L-dopa to relieve his symptoms, the man could not accept the fact that he was now dependent on others and committed suicide soon after being diagnosed.
This incident was shocking for me, but later I realized that thousands of patients like him probably have the same thinking. Thus, I decided to dedicate my life to improve people’s lives by engaging in this field. Indeed, according to Austin et al., recreational therapy helps clients minimize their symptoms and become better (10). Furthermore, they should understand that having a positive attitude about their own experiences has a tremendous therapeutic effect (O’Keefe). Since I have a natural ability to convince people, I want to direct this talent to change people’s perception of their diseases and alleviate their conditions.
In summary, recreational therapy creates organized leisure for patients to improve their current state or reduce their suffering. O’Keefe’s essay reflects the main principles of this profession: supporting clients on their path of recovering from physical or emotional trauma and attaining a higher quality of life. I chose this profession based on my personal experience and desire to change people’s lives. Finally, I want to be involved more in helping patients with chronic or terminal illnesses because I am eager to share my energy and fate to inspire them to meet their destiny with dignity.
O’Keefe, Cathy. “An Essay for Students Interested in Therapeutic Recreation.” Recreation Therapy. Web.
Austin, David R., et al. Recreational Therapy: An Introduction. 5th ed., Sagamore Publishing, LLC, 2020.