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Recreation Therapy Handbook of Practice (RTHP) Introduction

by Hawke Robinson published Nov 11, 2016 01:25 AM, last modified Nov 11, 2016 01:25 AM


As quoted from the Recreational Therapy Handbook of Practice ( RTHP[+] ) 2010 Introduction:

“The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) from the World Health Organization (WHO) represents a major shift in health care. It looks at health, not from the perspective of disease, disorder, or injury, but from the perspective of how a person's health fits in with the rest of his or her life, the kinds of things the person does, and the environment the person lives in.

It says what recreational therapists have been saying all along.

The Recreational Therapy Handbook of Practice was written to bring together the ideas that are already well understood in recreational therapy practice and the new model of health care represented by the ICF. Some of the terminology is different and there are a few differences in perspective, but if recreational therapists take the time to understand and use the ICF, we believe that they will find it to be an excellent tool both for improving practice and for demonstrating the importance of the work we do.”


And my favorite quote from the book Therapeutic Recreation – An Introduction (Third Edition) by David R. Austin and Michael E. Crawford as they paraphrase Austin, 1999 and Ardell 1977:

“Holistic medicine... treats the person rather than the disease... [Its] concern lies with the 'whole person' and with permitting individuals to assume self-responsibility for their own health... the ultimate aim of 'well medicine' (in contrast to the 'traditional medicine'...) to be that of moving individuals toward self-actualization. Whereas illness is the sole concern of traditional medicine, well medicine deals with wellness or health promotion.”


  • Tabletop Role-Playing Game (abbreviated herein as RPG[+] or TRPG )

  • Live-Action Role-Playing (abbreviated herein as LARP )

  • Computer-based (offline, online, group, and solo, various abbreviations including: CRPG MMORPG MUSH MUD , etc.)

  • Choose Your Own Adventure and interactive variants (abbreviated herein as CYOA )

  • Solo and interactive variants ( SRPG )


This document attempts to avoid redundancy of information from the RTHP, so you will need the RTHP to make full use of this RPG-TRHP.

This version of the RPG-TRHP[+] is made available to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. This means you are welcome to build upon this work as long you provide full attribution and also share under the same Share-Alike license, requiring others to do the same. This includes making an electronic version of your document easily accessible and freely available to the public. For permission to use this document beyond the scope of this lice, please contact this document's author, W.A. Hawkes-Robinson as indicated in the earlier copyright notice near the beginning of this document.

I have attempted to follow the same formatting as the RTHP to make it easier to cross reference information between the two books. Both books are based on the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) established by the World Health Organization (WHO). The codes referenced are listed on the WHO ICF website at:

This version of the RPG-TRHP is following the 2010 second printing of the RTHP. Future versions of the RPG-TRHP may be updated to fit newer version of the RTHP when possible.

The focus of this document is listing the areas that role-playing gaming can be used as an applicable treatment, the levels adaptation for different functioning levels, what kind of RPG types are likely to be most helpful, necessary adaptations for various client limitations, and any specific recommendations for RPG sessions to work more effectively with the particular needs of the client at the different levels of function.

Unless otherwise specified, the use of RPG alone (rather than with a prefix) generally indicates primarily Tabletop Role-playing gaming using in the traditional cooperative style, using paper, pencil, and dice. However, sometimes it may be equally applicable to other RPG types when indicated appropriately.

The various RPG forms (tabletop, live-action, computer-based, solo) have different applicability and benefits for different client needs. Those clients with severe gross motor control restrictions might not be able to realistically participate in typical LARP environments and may achieve more rewarding experiences through tabletop or computer-based RPG, while those with more severe cognitive impairments, but without significant physical impairments, may find the physical activity of LARP much more effective in achieving client goals. This document will attempt to clearly define which RPG forms are the most likely to apply depending on the Function Qualifier levels, recommended adaptations that may be necessary, and the expected areas that are likely to benefit.

This document is initially a theoretical exercise since there body or work using role-playing gaming as a therapy is still early in development, so the terms herein “may”, “might”, “should”, “probably”, “possibly”, hypothetically”, etc. are used frequently. It is hoped over time that professional caretakers and researchers will be able to provide more definitive feedback as experiments implementing these suggested treatments provide documented results, and tjem these terms will become more definitive and less tentative.

As reports are received, and research progresses, the reports and research will be posted on the RPG Research website, and added as reference material to this document with appropriate citations and recommendations added to the treatment sections from the experience of those working in the field.


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