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History of ATRA Standards of Practice
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The Standards for the Practice of Therapeutic Recreation (SOP) were authored and edited by Ann Huston, Bob Riley, Glen Van Andel and Ray West after a review of related professional literature and membership reviews, using a modified Delphi Review to solicit membership input from a significant number of ATRA members and non-members. Standards and criteria contained in the SOP were developed, based upon the review of related professional literature and best recreational therapy practices, to be, at minimum, compliant with standards and requirements of accreditation and regulatory agencies. With approval of the authors, the standards and criteria were first published by ATRA in 1991 as the ATRA Standards for the Practice of Therapeutic Recreation.

 

Over the years, the original authors and members of the SOP Committee became ex-officio members of the committee, but continued to participate in review and or revisions of the content of the standards of practice along with new members of the SOP committee. The authors revised the standards of practice to include standards and criteria for therapeutic recreation assistants, a compliance rating scale and a self-assessment guide which ATRA published in 1993, with approval of the authors, as the ATRA Standards for the Practice of Therapeutic Recreation & Self-Assessment Guide. Jim Barrett joined the SOP Team in 1997 and became Chair in 2000. Additional revisions to the SOP were made by the authors to include data collection instruments and methodology and a Patient Bill of Rights. This revision of the SOP was published by ATRA in 2000, with approval of the authors, as the ATRA Standards for the Practice of Therapeutic Recreation & Self-Assessment Guide, Revised 2000. Marcia Smith joined the SOP Team in 2003 and became co-chair in 2004.

The content of the ATRA SOP is considered to have a high degree of validity, and the self-assessment guide is considered to have reasonable reliability when data collection, for assessment of compliance, is controlled. The SOP standards and criteria have a high degree of consistency with standards of accreditation agencies and requirements of regulatory agencies. It has been demonstrated through several SOP compliance training workshops that, when recreational therapists use the SOP Self-Assessment Guide and data collection instruments to evaluate compliance and develop compliance improvement plans, compliance with all of the standards is achievable and significantly improves the quality of recreational therapy services provided. Those who have received training on the rationale for the standards and criteria and how to use the Self-Assessment Guide, to assess compliance with the SOP, give the ATRA SOP very high ratings for satisfaction and confidence related to providing quality recreational therapy practice in compliance with accreditation standards and requirements of regulatory agencies. Feedback on the ATRA SOP from stakeholders outside of the recreational therapy profession, including JC and CARF surveyors, has been very positive and highly complementary of the usefulness of the SOP in preparing for accreditation surveys. The SOP have always represented the minimal requirements (regulatory and accreditation) for the practice of recreational therapy, but are also considered a model of best practice for recreational therapy. It is generally accepted that adherence to the ATRA SOP, while voluntary, will improve recreational therapy practice to the level of requirements and standards of regulatory and accreditation agencies.

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