The therapeutic recreation process is a systematic method of planning and providing services for individuals with disabilities. The process is based on a systems theory approach. The system is designed for a guide for a well-defined, goal-oriented purpose to the activity or program being provided. It involves four phases: assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation. Use of the therapeutic recreation process is not dependent on location, but on systematic and consistent use of assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating services for people with disabilities. The process is applied in settings like hospitals, long-term facilities and useful in leisure education and recreation participation settings, like park and recreation
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The planning phase of the therapeutic recreation process can guide a therapeutic recreation specialist in developing individualized goals and objective for the client and then select recreation activities to meet the goals and objectives. The planning component is helpful for identifying activities to meet goals and objectives that promote independent recreation functioning. Some activities have the potential for improvement of functioning (i.e. warm water aquatics) in treatment and rehabilitation settings.
The therapist selects a twelve week leisure education program that includes social skills training components to meet the objectives outlined for the client. Leisure education focuses on the development and acquisition of leisure-related skills, attitudes, and knowledge so a person can express him/herself through leisure. Community recreation therapeutic recreation programs provide and ideal environment to apply leisure education goals by teaching how to access and utilize community recreation resources, as well as how to develop skills related to independent recreation functioning. The therapists forms goals, develops objectives, specifies activities (i. e. social skills) and determines a means of evaluation.
According to Austin and Crawford (1996), the implementation phase of the therapeutic recreation process is the action phase and involves carrying-out the individual or group program plan. The therapeutic