Vets project highlights role of Rosecrance experiential therapies program

February marked the inauguration of Therapeutic Recreation Month, a national campaign that highlights how therapeutic recreational therapy can improve quality of life, increase independence and promote health and wellness for people in recovery.

Rosecrance embraces these concepts as part of a nationally recognized experiential therapies program at both the adult and adolescent substance abuse campuses.

Kari Fager, Certified Recreational Therapist Specialist (CTRS), said that the skills patients learn in treatment can help them sustain recovery when they return home. Fager is the therapeutic art and recreation supervisor at the Harrison Campus, the adult treatment center.

“We specifically help them to explore the benefits of leisure, physical activity, and relaxation skills through learning yoga and other meditation techniques, as well as teaching the connection between wellness and recovery,” Fager said.

Art therapy – while different from therapeutic recreational therapy – also is part of the experiential therapies program at Rosecrance, and offers many of the same benefits to people in recovery.

“Patients take a metaphoric look at themselves, their future goals, current road blocks, subconscious thoughts and current feelings,” said Jada Miller, art therapist at the Harrison Campus . “Patients come to embrace learning about themselves and their recovery in a visual way.”

Art therapy gives patients tools to help them better understand their own motivations and behaviors, Miller said.

Valentines for Veterans, a Valentine’s Day project at Rosecrance Harrison Campus, highlighted the impact of the experiential therapies program.

More than 120 hand-made cards were created as part of Valentines for Veterans. Some were presented to vets receiving care through Rosecrance, and the rest were delivered to the VFW Post in Loves Park, which participated in the federal program to distribute the cards.

The project allowed patients receiving inpatient treatment at Rosecrance’s adult substance abuse treatment campus to work on their own recovery while reaching out to thank veterans who otherwise might be forgotten on Valentine’s Day.

“Projects like Valentines for Veterans give patients an opportunity to show their gratitude for the things in life they may not have thought about during their active addiction,” Miller said. “It gives them a chance to look at the bigger picture in sobriety, while also feeling a sense of pride in helping others”