Using Basic Counseling Skills in Rec. Therapy
Presented by: Danny Pettry, M.Ed., LPC,NCC, CTRS
Friday, October 28, 2015, at 2:30 p.m.
Mental Health Workshop for Recreational Therapists
at River Park Hospital, in Huntington, WV
I could talk about this subject for a long time. I have graduate degrees in Recreational Therapy and Counseling, from Indiana University and Lindsey Wilson College, respectively. I have the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential for Recreational Therapists as well as (National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential. I work as a therapist/ practitioner for three residential treatment programs designed for children and adolescents. I’m currently working to complete training and certification in providing trauma-focused CBT.
Goals of this session included:
· Identify at least three concepts for building a therapeutic relationship with patient/client
· Identify at least three counseling skills that Recreation Therapists can use in different phases of the Rec. Therapy process including assessments, treatment planning, implementing the intervention and for evaluations.
· Identify at least three counseling skills a Recreation Therapist can use in group settings.
Compassion fatigue/ burnout can happen to RTs
RTs need to do some self-care in order to be the best RT they can be.
The Counseling for Dummies book suggested many self-care activities that are “recreational” in nature.
Some of the tips included:
• Social support/ positive contact with families
• Activities: walking, swimming sports, gym, dancing, gardening
• Sedentary activities: reading, watching a movie, journaling, drawing, painting.
• Spiritual activities
OF course, a healthy functioning individual can do those activities.
A person in treatment (example in acute-care psychiatric setting) is not at a point where they can independently choose those activities. They need assistance from professionals.
Let’s get started:
What is Rec. Therapy? ATRA definition:
– Recreational Therapy, also known as Therapeutic Recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illness and/ or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery, and well-being (2015).
Basic counseling skills can be used in all four parts of the TR/RT process: assessment, planning, implementation of the intervention, and evaluation.
What is counseling? ACA definition:
• ACA Definition:
– Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals (2010).
Note: both Rec Therapy and Counseling are strength-based and wellness based human service professions. Skills in this session will focus on that “professional relationship”
• This session won’t train an individual to become a counselor. That requires additional education, training, clinical supervision, and a license.
• This session will take some of the counseling skills that can be used by other professionals, like Rec. Therapy or direct care, or teaching.
Listening is an important skill. I suggested Dr. David Austin’s video: Effective listening video:
Some character traits for listening:
• Empathy: be in their shoes/ feel their pain
• Respect: value that individual
• Integrity: honest/ doing right thing
• Resilience: bounce back ability
• Humility: we all have problems
• Courage: break confidentiality for child safety.
• Assertiveness: speak plain and direct
Factors Why Therapy Works:
• Michael Lambert’s research:
– 40%: factors outside of therapy: family, life situations, circumstances, biology,
– 30%: the helping relationship: caring, warmth, empathy, acceptance, mutual affirmation and encouragement
– 15%: the actual technique we use in therapy.
– 15%: placebo – just works.
How to build a helping therapeutic relationship? Carl Rogers:
Carl Rogers was a required reading for the Rec. Therapy graduate degree program.
His theory was also studied in graduate school for counselors.
Rogers discusses that concepts for building that helping/ healing/ professional relationship in his humanistic/ person-centered therapy approach.
• Realness: congruent and not hiding behind a professional mask.
• Unconditional positive regard: accepting, prizing, unbiased, listening. Even when they mess up.
• Empathetic: appreciates their perspective.
A side note on: empathy. Yawn effect. Sorry about your yawn, but congratulations too!
Skills Needed for Groups
– Active Listening
– Lecture/ Info. Giving (keep that brief)
– Tone setting
– Use of eyes
– Use of voice
– Use of leader’s energy
– Self-disclosure (use this one rarely and when it can benefit client)
Skills for Assessment:
• Attending to the patient/ client
• Listening: active/ fully/ non-distracted
• Focusing: on the patient/ client
• Observing: what do you see? Does what they share match/ is congruent with body language?
Skills for Planning:
• Goal-setting is a skill to have.
• Work with the patient/ client so they can be self-directed in their treatment goals.
Skills for Implementing the Intervention:
This is the “activities” part.
RTs can use several skills here:
Information giving: in example: the benefits
Modeling skills: showing/ demonstrating
Confronting behaviors: hitting
Decision-making skills: what is the best choice? Maturity of judgment
Skills for Evaluation:
• Questioning: what did you gain from Rec. Therapy sessions/ treatments?
– Did you meet your goals?
• Summarizing: the goals, the treatment, the outcomes
• SuppoRTing: providing emotional support