Recreation Therapy (RecT) is a game-changer in pediatric care. What was a niche field is becoming a growing commodity in treating complex behavioural and mental health. We at CarePros are so fortunate to have Recreation Therapist Assistant Shawna Sayaphet join our team. We sat down with Shawna to get her unique perspective on RecT.
Hi Shawna. Welcome to CarePros! It’s about time we get to know you. So what can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Shawna, and it’s nice to meet you (laughs). I am CarePros’ Recreation Therapist Assistant. I went to school for therapeutic recreation, and I got my diploma in 2020 while working as a manager at Syphay restaurant.
Recreation therapy is becoming more common in our industry. So what is it that drew you towards recreation therapy (RecT)?
I was always passionate about recreation, and the healing values that it had in my life, how recreation focuses on a person holistically, like the physical body, the emotional body, the social, and the spiritual. For me, soccer provided a physical gateway to not work on my physical body while also having a social aspect of the team. In soccer, you are working collaboratively with a team to achieve a common goal. You have to get along with your team, and you draw the strengths of every unique person.
Teamwork makes the dream work!
CarePros is definitely my team, and like a soccer team, we are achieving our goal to benefit the client in the best way possible. And my goal is recreation specifically.
RecT can be defined as using activities to rehabilitate clients. How would you define RecT?
My definition is always changing. I ask people, what does RecT mean to you? RecT is, for example, something that you do outside of work. So what are the things you do outside of work that benefit your life in ways that you don't think of? The things that make you who you are also provide peace to your life.
So how is RecT different from an activity or program coordinator?
We can easily be confused as an activity coordinator or a program coordinator, but that isn't accurate. We look at every client and see opportunities to treat their complex behavioural and mental needs.
For example, when we are program planning, we analyze barriers that could potentially harm the client. In terms of proper documentation, we have knowledge and resources that activity coordinators will not typically have.
What do you do as a RecT Assistant?
There are many different types of goals that we work on using recreational activities and leisure activities to help our clients. My role is to help solve barriers and limitations that our clients might have to participate in recreation. Some clients might not know what to do. A lot of kids might want to play games, but do not know what else is out there.
We teach a lot of our older clients life skills. We're doing a cooking class program and a resume writing program with kids who want to be more independent.
How does RecT support our Care Professionals?
As RecT Assistant, I want to be an energetic and positive influence for the clients, and I want to continue to build that relationship with our Care Professionals. I see myself supporting our Care Professionals by giving them ideas for activities that the client might enjoy.
For example, if we plan an activity for the client who struggles with ADHD or other complex behavioral disorders, we might play emotional charades. The goal is for the client to think of an emotion that they would have to act out. We’re teaching them how to work with their emotions, how to solve emotional problems, and how to focus.
I find it interesting that you are a manager at your family-owned restaurant. Is there a correlation between providing customer service and treating our clients?
For me, it’s providing a meaningful experience for my clients and my customers, and I do whatever it takes to make sure that I am successful at it. Both of my roles require me to plan and dissect what makes a meaningful experience.
I see a big correlation between CarePros as an agency and a small, family-run business like Syphay. I am given opportunities to set a standard for CarePros RecT programs and to continually improve our processes, and think outside the box. I worked in a larger and more established agency where everything is set in stone for me, and I had barriers in my path to overcome. At CarePros, I can have those conversations with the team. CarePros is filled with good listeners and great leadership.