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

Shintaro Kono, Susan Burton


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.

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

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