Published on Brock University (http://brocku.ca)
Universities are sometimes criticized for focusing too much on the ‘theory’ and not enough on the ‘real world application.’
For students in the Therapeutic Recreation concentration in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, their capstone course brings the two worlds together.
Advanced Methods in Therapeutic Recreation (RECL 4F22) facilitates the translation of therapeutic recreation theory and philosophy into practice through class work and 100 hours of clinical work in agencies in the St. Catharines area.
Beginning in October, students make weekly visits to clinical sites to meet with clients and apply the therapeutic recreation program planning and implementation process (Assessment, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation - APIE).
“This class has given me and other students the opportunity to actually practice Therapeutic Recreation,” Said Jaymieson Weaver-Jacob, a fourth year student in the Recreation & Leisure Studies program.
"I was able to get to know my clients before focusing on our assessments, planning sessions, implementation and evaluating the session plans.”
In their clinical practice, students implement leisure-based therapeutic programs that help build strengths and enhance well-being.
The programs put the Leisure and Well-being Model into practice, which is a model that defines the goals and strategies used in therapeutic recreation practice, a model developed by Brock Professor Colleen Hood.
"It is important that students learn how to take a strengths-based approach to working with clients and as a result see them as so much more than their problems.” Says Colleen Hood, Course Co-instructor and Professor in Recreation and Leisure Studies.
“We also ask the students to examine their own lives from the lens of the Leisure and Well–being Model, and support them to build strengths, experience positivity, and find ways to construct a meaningful life."
Brock collaborated with a number of community agencies that include the Niagara Health System (NHS), Youth Connection, Royal Henley, Extendicare, and Pleasant Manor.
Students are able to work with a range of clients in a clinical setting. Clients include youth, people living with mental illness, older adults in long-term care, people with early stage dementia, and people who have had a brain injury or a stroke.
Agencies have also noted the positive contributions of the students.
“Their knowledge and passion for finding and working with the clients’ strengths have really made clients re-focus and thrive,” Noted Erin Lemoine, Recreation Therapist at Niagara Health System Day Hospital and Outpatient program.
“Whether working one to one, doing assessments or running groups, their professionalism has shone through. They have become an integral part of our care team. The students have not only raised awareness of the power and possibilities that therapeutic recreation provides.”
Throughout the practicum, students also meet on an ongoing basis with classmates and course instructors to debrief, strategize, and share their learning.
“This is one of the chances that we get to see students go through the therapeutic recreation process with real clients,” said Suzie Lane, Course Co-instructor and Associate Professor in Recreation and Leisure Studies.
Utilizing student placements allows for a strong partnership with our community agencies, provides pleasure in clients' lives, and builds the student confidence in their knowledge base.