Recreational therapy, also referred to as therapeutic recreation or TR, is the use of leisure activities to help people overcome physical and emotional conditions including substance abuse and addiction. These activities range from low to high impact making recreational therapy an accessible treatment option for everyone and are highly mentally stimulating regardless of the specific activity. The benefits of this engaging approach include:
- Improving motor skills
- Improving cognition
- Reducing feelings of anxiety, isolation, and depression
- Providing a means of creative expression
- Boosted self-esteem and mood
- Providing long-term goals and a sense of motivation
- Strengthening social skills
Why Recreational Therapy Works
The key behind this science-backed approach is simple: participating in activities you enjoy triggers the release of endorphins. These feel-good neurochemicals are responsible for the sensations of pleasure we feel after working out or accomplishing a task. They also reduce pain and play a role in the natural reward circuits of the brain which can help the establishment of positive habits and motivation.
The nature of recreational therapy makes it highly effective in substance abuse treatment—and also quite enjoyable. At Moving Mountains Recovery, we offer a number of leisure activities so that our clients can find something that personally speaks to them and provides them the maximum health benefits for their condition. Studies have shown that recreational therapy can help clients recover functional independence more quickly, improve communication skills, boost self-esteem, and much more.
Examples of Recreational Therapy Activities
There are dozens of different types of activities that can be included as part of recreational therapy addiction treatment. The beauty of this variety is that it allows for highly customized experiences that can be shaped to meet the unique needs of each individual client.
- Animal interactions
- Board games
- Cooking classes
- Video games
Although the types of activities included in recreational therapy can vary widely, they provide a combination of health benefits including physical movement, mental stimulation, social interaction, and creativity. When used in conjunction with traditional therapy, counseling, and medication, these activities can go a long way towards addiction recovery.