The Applicability of Therapeutic Recreation to Post-Disaster Lives: The Leisure and Well-Being Model Perspective


  • Shintaro Kono Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Susan Burton Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center



Culture, disaster, Japanese, Japanese-Americans, Leisure and Well-Being Model, therapeutic recreation


Disasters cause myriad physical, psychological, and social problems among survivors around the world. Although therapeutic recreation (TR) is theoretically important for survivors, few have supported this by using empirical data. This study examines the applicability of one of the leading TR models, the leisure and well-being model (LWM), to post-disaster life contexts. To this end, we re-analyzed qualitative, interview data from nine Japanese/Japanese American Katrina survivors living in New Orleans and 16 Japanese survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Our findings based on thematic analysis suggested that each of the five leisure enhancement mechanisms specified in the LWM—savoring, gratification, authenticity, mindfulness, and virtuousness— were pertinent to survivors’ post-disaster experiences. Our results also show specific conditions under which these mechanisms can be particularly therapeutic. However, we also found parts of the model do not fit potentially due to cultural differences. Both theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Subscribe to TRJ

Author Biographies

Shintaro Kono, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Recreation Professions

Susan Burton, Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center

Recreation Therapist, Behavioral Health Unit, Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center, Sherman, TX





Research Papers