What Is Recreational Therapy?

There is endless information concerning the importance of an individual’s well-being worldwide. Mental health and wellness have become significant concepts today. Of the many available treatment methods that improve one’s mental health, participation in recreational activities can create an array of positive attributes.

Recreational Therapy: Having Fun While Healing

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) defines recreational therapy as a “systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the needs of individuals with illness and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being.”

The unique feature of recreational therapy that makes it unlike other treatments is recreational modalities in the designed intervention strategies. Recreational treatment is adapted for each person by their past, present, and future interests and lifestyle.

Activities such as listening to music, taking photos, or even getting a massage are fun and relaxing and may seem ordinary. Still, when applied as a strategy toward treatment in mental health, they become tools for a healthy mindset.

Recreational therapists work with clients to set goals and develop plans to meet their needs. Recreational therapy can take place in a variety of settings, including:

  • Assisted living facilities
  • Sports programs
  • Substance use programs
  • Correctional facilities
  • Community centers
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Most mental health facilities and programs
  • Skilled nursing facilities

A little help is all that is needed throughout the wellness journey. We encounter incidents such as mental health disorders, injuries, and diseases that make the mental health journey challenging and discouraging. Once the client can cooperate with a recreational therapist, they are more likely to find the peace of mind they strive for.

Benefits of Recreational Therapy

With recreational therapy, individuals with mental health disorders can approach their day with expressive interest that can be used throughout their lives. Clients can learn coping skills, time management, and social skills and discover community resources to help battle these risk factors.

The Journal of American Art Therapy Association noted that scientific studies have implied that an hour of creative activity can reduce stress and positively affect mental health, regardless of artistic experience.

These organized activities initiate a sense of achievement in individuals. Some other benefits of recreational therapy include:

  • Improved physical, cognitive, and emotional needs
  • Enhanced the quality of life
  • Strengthened social connections
  • Improved functioning and independence
  • Reduced symptoms
  • Developed skills for daily living

Activities in Recreational Therapy

The therapist will match the client’s activities to their personal interests. Some of the activities that may be part of a recreational therapy program include:

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Massage therapy also releases endorphins and improves self-awareness.

Art Therapy

Art therapy can help individuals discover suppressed emotions and offer a sense of independence while decreasing stress, fear, and anxiety. It can improve the client’s emotional expression, self-esteem, and self-awareness.

Music Therapy

Music therapy helps people manage emotional problems associated with feeling overcome with distress. It allows the individual to put their problems into perspective. Scientific research has revealed that music therapy can influence physiological and psychological processes that improve physical and mental health.


Yoga helps increase awareness and concentration because it is a mind and body practice. It teaches clients how to sustain the attentiveness necessary to remain mentally strong and focused. Yoga can also help decrease stress and anxiety and enhance physical and mental health.

Other types of activities that may be used as therapeutic recreations include:

  • Sports
  • Board games
  • Video games
  • Animal interactions
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Creative writing
  • Storytelling
  • Dramas
  • Cooking classes
  • Community excursions

When an activity is therapeutic, it improves the quality of life and well-being. Recreational therapists access the fun associated with the individual’s desired activity and use it as the means of treatment. They identify barriers and develop plans to help clients manage mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns that often reduce the quality of life.

Why Choose Recreational Therapy?

Working with a recreational therapist can increase mood, cognitive abilities, memory, physical health, and self-confidence. Researchers believe physical movement, creativity, and social interaction help provide these extensive health advantages. Therefore, it is safe to say that recreational therapy has a crucial role in mental health treatment.

If you think recreational therapy could benefit you or someone you love, talk with a healthcare provider about the option of employing the power of play to accomplish a positive mindset and healthy mentality.

Finding additional resources for treatment near you is simple. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers the behavioral health treatment services locator to help find mental health services that provide specialty care in your area.

Having fun while improving your mental health is possible. Recreational therapy takes activities you enjoy and transforms them into therapeutic techniques to improve your overall well-being. If you think recreational treatment could benefit you or someone you love, Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in San Diego, CA, is here to help you. We provide the necessary assessments to determine the best course of treatment for your mental health. Our devoted team of professionals can provide each client with advanced care to deliver high-quality treatment services. Here, you will know you are in a safe place that offers kindness and compassion for the healing process. We understand the importance of an individualized approach to treatment, so we develop comprehensive treatment plans unique to each client. We specialize in psychiatric conditions, where clients have the opportunity to learn and practice life skills required to take control of their life.

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Contact our admissions team to learn how Crownview can help you or your loved one.

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