Therapeutic Recreational Journal Advances the Field

By MacNeil, Richard D.; Mobily, Kenneth E. | Parks & Recreation, September 1994 | Go to article overview

Therapeutic Recreational Journal Advances the Field


MacNeil, Richard D., Mobily, Kenneth E., Parks & Recreation


The Therapeutic Recreation Journal (TRJ), the official journal of the National Therapeutic Recreation Association, is a quarterly publication devoted to publishing scholarly and substantive manuscripts on therapeutic recreation issues. Founded to provide a national forum for research and discussion concerning the needs of disabled individuals, problems confronting the profession, and new vistas for service, the journal celebrated its 27th anniversary last year.

TRJ'S editorial staff consists of two co-editors, 18 associate editors, two case history editors, and a managing editor. Each manuscript received is reviewed independently by two associate editors, four reviewers with expertise in therapeutic recreation, and the co-editors. Based on the reviewers' and associate editors' recommendations, the co-editors decide the disposition of each manuscript. The journal staff is discriminating; only half of the papers received in 1993 were published.

In addition to three general issues, one special/thematic issue is published each year. The editorial staff attempts to include research, theoretical, and program-oriented papers in each issue. However, in recent years, three-quarters of submitted manuscripts have had a research focus.

During 1993, 18 full-length papers, two case studies, one research note, and four book reviews were published in TRJ.

Leisure Education Programs Studied

The leisure service profession long has advocated the merits of leisure education programs. In recent years, increasing attempts have been made to study empirically the effects of leisure education programs on different groups of people. Two articles of this kind were published in TRJ last year.

Searle and Mahon (1st Quarter, pp. 9-21) discussed the long term effects of a leisure education program on the psychological well-being of elderly patients in a day hospital program. Analysis of data showed mixed results. On one hand, improvement in perceived leisure competence not only was sustained over the long term for the experimental group when compared to the control group but it continued to increase over time. On the other hand, there was no latent effect on the subjects' locus of control or self-esteem.

The positive effect of a leisure education program on mentally retarded students moving from secondary school to post-school adult life was the focus of a study by Bedini, Bullock, and Driscoll (2nd Quarter, pp. 70-82) in which the authors found that leisure education programs encouraged positive changes in behaviors and attitudes (i.e., leisure awareness, activity initiation, participation, and leisure appreciation).

Outdoors long have been suspected of having powerful therapeutic potential, and several papers published in last year's TRJ explored this notion. Kelly (2nd Quarter, pp. 110-125) provided a comprehensive review of literature related to the therapeutic potential of outdoor adventure programs for mentally ill adults. The author concluded that while literature strongly supports the value of such programs, more research is needed.

Validation for the use of a therapeutic camping experience to reduce anxiety among children diagnosed with severe behavioral and emotional disorders was provided in a study by Rawson and Barnett (1st Quarter, pp. 22-32). The researchers documented a significant decrease in manifest anxiety levels among subjects who had enrolled in a highly structured camping experience. In a related work, Witman (1st Quarter, pp. 44-50) identified characteristics of outdoor adventure programs that were valued most by adolescents in treatment. The author found that "process" oriented characteristics such as "helping/assisting others" and "taking risks" generally were more highly regarded by subjects than were "content" related items such as "doing ropes course activities" or "doing cooperative games." The author suggested that this information be integrated into staff training and program development. …

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