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Monday, December 21, 2009

ATRA stays the same.

Results were tallied and the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) will keep the same name. The vote to change the name to the American Recreational Therapy Association did not pass.

Many of you know that I had been a strong supporter and advocator for the name change.

Only 23% of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) members voted. So, that is almost one in four. A total of 60% of the people who voted said, “no,” they don’t want the name to change. It appears that my vote was with the minority group.

Fully accept the results.

I consider myself a “Recreational Therapist” at work. My position is called a Recreational/ Activities Therapist at the psychiatric facility that I work at. New physician just started working on the unit. He usually refers to me as “the good therapist.” Yes, I am a therapist, a recreational therapist to be more specific. I sign “recreational therapist” as the “person responsible” for facilitating interventions to help the patient meet her (or his) goals on their treatment plan. Of course, I use my “CTRS” credential, too.

Noticed that the major advocacy for our profession has been with the ATRA: Recreational Therapy Medicare Project. Tons of work and dedication had went into this project. Many recreational therapists donated time and money. They had written letters to their representatives. I personally went to D.C. with my another recreational therapist to talk to our state Representatives and to ask them to co-sign a letter to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to request them to acknowledge in their manual that “Recreational Therapy” is a covered service in three in-patient settings: rehab, psych, and skilled nursing. Of course, it already was covered in all three settings, but some places weren’t offering recreational therapy services because providers were afraid that it wasn’t covered. They didn’t want to be required to pay any money back for services that aren’t covered. As a result, many Medicare beneficiaries weren’t receiving recreational therapy services.

We met this goal. CMS has agreed to specifically list “Recreational Therapy” in their manual as a covered service for these three settings (when medically necessary and prescribed by a physician). I work in an in-patient psychiatric facility, so, this is definitely good news to me. I doubt that this would have been changed had it not been for the “Recreational Therapy Medicare Project.”

Big initiatives like this are needed to continue to move our profession forward. The change in the CMS manual could influence other third-party payers and private insurance companies to change their manual, too. They may decide that if CMS is listing Rec. therapy then they should, too.

I don’t think they’re going to list “Therapeutic Recreation” in their manuals. Many activities can have therapeutic benefits. Journaling for me is very therapeutic. Painting is therapeutic for me, too. Taking a nature walk, taking a bath, scrapbook, talking to a friend, and reading a good novel are all very therapeutic for me. However, they are not therapy. They’re just activities that are therapeutic.

Providing recreation and leisure services for people with disabilities is wonderful. Glad to see people proving these services. Makes me smile. Pleased to know they’re getting services. These are just recreation activities. And yes, they’re very therapeutic in nature.

Healthcare is expensive. People want outcomes. It’s vital for the profession to be outcome based. Having “happy, feel good activities” is wonderful. It’s great. However, it isn’t outcome based and it isn’t specifically designed to bring about an outcome, which is needed for a healthcare setting.

In order to be therapy, they need to have several components, which are more related with recreational therapy (RT). This includes: individualized assessment to identify strengths and areas of needed improvement, planning with the patient/ client, providing specific interventions to help the patient to meet his areas of needed improvement, and evaluating the outcomes. I personally provide all these things myself as the RT, including the interventions. However, I also plan and develop recreation activities for the patients that are facilitated by mental health technicians during the evenings and weekends. They provide these activities for the patients. These recreation activities have therapeutic qualities to them.

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