Theories that Support Strengths-Based Practice in Therapeutic Recreation


  • Linda A. Heyne
  • Lynn S. Anderson


Strengths-based practice, theory, therapeutic recreation, well-being, ecological approach


Health and human services are gradually moving from a medical, deficits-based model of practice toward an orientation that emphasizes participant strengths and capacities. This article presents theories relevant to therapeutic recreation that reflect this shift toward accentuating strengths. The theories are presented in two categories: (a) theories that support well-being within the individual and (b) theories that pertain to contextual factors that support well-being. The first category features happiness theory, broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, learned optimism, and character strengths and virtues. The second category highlights recent theories of health, disability, community building, and resiliency. Strengths are also defined, the strengths and deficits approaches compared, and the importance of a theoretical grounding to therapeutic recreation strengths-based practice emphasized. A companion to this article, “Flourishing Through Leisure: An Ecological Extension of the Leisure and Well-Being Model in Therapeutic Recreation Strengths-Based Practice,” also appears in this issue and applies these theories to practice.





Conceptual Papers