Recreational Therapy Provides Crucial Creative Outlet for Student’s Passions

September 7, 2021 | News, Student Success, UToday, Alumni, UTMC, Health and Human Services
By Meredith Troxel

The University of Toledo’s recreational therapy program is more than just a major for Andy Martin, and that’s because it’s connected to a pair of their passions: psychology and art.

“The field of recreational therapy, in general, is a creative one. I don’t think that I could have worked in a field that wasn’t,” Martin said.


The senior in UToledo’s College of Health and Human Services has completed their internship at The University of Toledo Medical Center’s Senior Behavioral Health Program. Martin, alongside fellow student interns, helped patients learn to manage stress through education and life skills and return to their daily activities.

“We improved our skills by working on building therapeutic relationships with the clients, learning how to facilitate groups and working towards treatment planning and assessments,” Martin said. “We even got to experience the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JACHO) coming to do their regularly scheduled check-up of the unit.”

Clinical instructor Stephanie Morrill has been a great mentor to Martin and other recreational therapy interns. Morrill worked to expand Martin’s experience not only in the Senior Behavioral Health Program but also in UTMC’s child and adolescent psychiatry program and inpatient detox unit.

“Andy brings different perspectives to our unit that are very creative and have been effective with our patients,” Morrill said. “Our unit comes with many challenges due to the nature of our patients and what they are in the hospital for, and Andy’s approach to the patients has come with understanding, care and compassion.

“Andy brought that level of compassion to their work here to make all of our patients feel accepted and welcomed, as well as at ease in their time of treatment here with us.”

Because of Morrill’s commitment to providing additional opportunities to her students, Martin found new enjoyment in working with the child and adolescent population, along with their current interest in psychology and working with individuals with developmental disabilities.

The pandemic has added an extra obstacle for students learning essential skills in hands-on programs. Classes and even internship experiences went remote, but Martin persevered.

Martin also appreciates when professors combine personal experiences and relevant course material, connecting in-class concepts to real-life experiences that students may encounter as professionals.

“The biggest skill that I’ve improved upon from my time at UToledo so far is time management,” Martin said. “Though I’ll be the first to admit that there’s always room for improvement, I have been a lot better at making sure I’m getting what needs to be done when it needs done, which is something that is important in my field.”

With Martin’s internship coming to completion, they will graduate with a bachelor of science degree in recreational therapy, a minor in psychology and a few spare art credits. Martin said they hope to return to UToledo to finish their art degree, after working as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist in the Toledo area.

“I’ve been toying around with the idea of saving up and eventually getting myself an art studio,” Martin said, “that I would ideally be able to run a recreational therapy service out of as well.”

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