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JOY PENNICK

Course Reflection

Human Services-Therapeutic Recreation Diploma


After completing the first year of the Human Services program, I felt confident that I had received
a solid foundation for further studies in the field of Health Services. Through my volunteer
experience during the (2013/14) academic year and over the summer break, I gained an
understanding of and an appreciation for the scope of practice for a Therapeutic Recreation
professional. Our final year of study has provided more advanced training and invaluable reallife experience through the completion of two work experience practicum placements. The
following summary provides an overview of the Human Services-Therapeutic Recreation Diploma
program.
Foundations and Concepts of Therapeutic Recreation
The Foundations course has focused on Program Planning from different points of view.
Experiencing Leisure required a personal commitment by participating in our own leisure
program. Through journaling, we have been able to reflect on our experiences, perhaps allowing
us to better appreciate our clients experience.
The Understanding TR Clientele research paper provided an excellent opportunity to learn more
about many of the disabling health conditions (CP, arthritis, stroke, Alzheimers, Parkinsons,
Down syndrome, and Deafness) so common to our client population. In this way we have gained
an understanding of some of the barriers to participation for compromised individuals. I only wish
that I had more time to study these conditions in greater detail.
The Introduction to Program Planning course is by far the most useful. I assume that these skills
will be essential in our role as a TRA. I have some experience with the program planning process
but from the point of view of an art educator. The concepts of modification, goal-setting and debriefing are new to me but I appreciate how essential they are to the TR process.

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Skills for Practice in Therapeutic Recreation


I enjoyed working in a smaller group for the Triad assignment (Specialized Communication
Techniques). I have a particular interest in working with the Autism community and through this
presentation was able to develop a deeper understanding of this condition. Group-work and oral
presentations are always somewhat stressful but I felt that all presentations were informative.
The Advocacy Presentations are intended to inform and advocate for a specific population, in need
of TR services. This assignment has encouraged some thinking outside the box, in order to
consider all members of society with a more empathetic eye. It is clear that recreation, leisure and
TR are essential elements of a healthy lifestyle for ALL segments of society. These presentations
are designed to bring awareness to the issue.
Through our Volunteer Placements, we have gained more hands-on experience. I have maintained
my association with Team Possibles (Down syndrome) and had the opportunity to work with
school-aged children (Kid Possibles) this fall. In addition, I have been fortunate to offer my time for
art programming at Arborstone Enhanced Care. During this weekly craft program, we have
experimented with a number of techniques and have all enjoyed the experience. Prior to my
January Field Placement with the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, I participated as a volunteer
during the Saturday afternoon Recreation Therapy program.
Through these placements, the theories of practice are tested! This on-the-job- training allows us
to get our feet wet by observing and assisting. More importantly, volunteering helps to erase the
barriers that may exist between us and the client. It does not take long to realize that we are all
just people after all!
Personal and Professional Practice
This course has encouraged us to take a longer view and to think beyond our graduation. Guest
speakers from a number of organizations and institutions have offered valuable insight and
information as it relates to the real world of TR. These seminars have reinforced what we have
learned though course work.

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The Data Base and the Electronic Portfolio are essential, professional tools but remain works in
progress. These assignments underline the importance of establishing a professional presence
and of community networking. How you present yourself is just as important as whom you
connect to. Refreshing our resumes and navigating the Placement Application process has been
very illuminating. Once we graduate, many of us will become very familiar with this process as we
begin the job-search process.
Introduction to Leisure Services
I have enjoyed most of what has been presented during this course: from the History and
Philosophy of Leisure to the Flipside of Leisure. We have been encouraged to be creative in our
presentations, looking at play, leisure and recreation with more informed eyes. Although I
appreciate that professionals should have a solid understanding of the social, political and
economic underpinnings of this sector, I admit that I am less enthused about this aspect of the
course. However, all knowledge is useful. In my opinion, the most relevant assignment is yet to
come. Leadership Skills provides an opportunity to plan and facilitate a leisure activity, a skill that
is at the core of what a TR professional is expected to do.
Anatomy and Physiology
This on-line course has been demanding and mentally taxing. I do agree that all TR professionals
should have a good foundation in both anatomy and physiology, in order to
better understand the clients many health conditions. In addition, many TR professionals will
work in Health Care settings and may work in teams of other health-care professionals.
Understanding terminology and treatment modalities will be essential.
Work Placement
I was fortunate to complete my four-week Placement with Recreation Therapy Services of the
Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Hospital (Capital Health). The NSRC addresses the needs of non-acute,
medically stable patients such as those who have experienced Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) or Stroke,
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), Amputations, Musculoskeletal Trauma (MSK), Neuro-muscular Disorders
(MS) and Neurologic Disorders. The Recreation Therapists and Associates collaborate as members of

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interprofessional teams to provide holistic, person-centred care. Unit-wide programs, as well as one-onone activities were offered to clients, to address their identified personal goals.
During the final semester, we were required to demonstrate our skills and knowledge through
group presentations and discussions, formal lectures, as well as power-point and video
presentations. Specific courses complimented those offered during the first semester. The final
five-week practicum provided an opportunity to use this information in a ' real-life situation.
Techniques in Therapeutic Recreation
Methods of assessment, program planning and professional documentation procedures used by
Recreation Therapy professionals, formed the bulk of this course. We were given the opportunity
to conduct a Leisure Assessment Screen; to devise Programs Plans, appropriate for specific clients;
create Goal Statements and complete Progress Notes. These are essential documentation tools for
all Recreation Therapy professionals.
Leadership and Group Facilitation
Understanding group dynamics and learning effective leadership and facilitation techniques is
invaluable for the Recreation Therapy professional. Through observation, analyses, and
facilitation practice, we were given the opportunity to hone these skills. We were also encouraged
to learn from each other through the presentation of numerous games and activities, suitable for
specific client populations.
Volunteer Management
Group seminars provided key information regarding all aspects of Volunteer Management: from
Planning, Recruitment, Training, and Risk Management to Documentation. Most Recreation
Therapy professionals are required to supervising volunteers.
Health Conditions in Therapeutic Recreation
This introduction to a variety of health conditions (physical and mental illness) was presented
through group and individual presentations, and Journal Club discussions. We examined how

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therapeutic recreation services could be included and implemented as an integral part of a clients
health care plan, through the Health Mentor project.
Mental Health Issues
The nature and complexity of mental health and mental illness was presented in this
comprehensive on-line course. We were introduced to the DSM-V and investigated all categories
of mental illness, including cause, symptoms and treatment options. In addition, we focused a
great deal of attention on current Federal and Provincial legislation, social programs and other
supports (health care) available to those with mental illness. I was particularly interested in the
mental health programs available through Nova Scotias Capital District Health Authority.
Practicum
My final five-week Practicum was completed with the Community Transition Program (CTP),
Capital District Health Authority, Addictions and Mental Health Services.

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