Mental & Behavioral Health | Autism | Family Support

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For more than 20 years, I have had the privilege of working in residential treatment settings with some of the most courageous children and adolescents in the Midwest, including those living at KidsTLC. As a recreation therapist for children who have experienced trauma, I have often been considered the “fun staff” as I partner with a treatment team to make an impact on each child who comes to us for help.

Just recently, I transitioned to a new role as the recreation therapist in the Intensive Outpatient Program at KidsTLC. The kids I have the privilege of working with come every day after school for a few hours of intensive group therapy. They are a very daring group of kids who may be struggling with things like anxiety, depression, trauma, family disruption or other behavioral health challenges.

Monday through Wednesday, I see the kids moving, playing and strategizing in the gym during structured recreation therapy games. I hear them laughing and telling stories, improving their sportsmanship and sharing their concern for each other through acceptance and encouragement. I feel their tears and their tight hugs as they work to ground themselves with the help of a calm adult and prepare to move forward in their day. I see them begin to build trust as they ask for and receive help in an environment where they feel safe.

On Thursdays, I get to see a very different dynamic. This is the evening when the parents join us for their own education and support group, followed by guided activities with their children. Using games or fun challenges, we create an environment that builds stronger connections between the parents and their children. During this time, I see the kids reaching for their parent’s smiles and I feel joy as I see them reciprocated. I hear the excitement as a child shares their honest feelings with their parent, and the parent responds with encouragement. I feel the relief of the families that watch their child graduate from the program and share how they feel more empowered to create a healthy family dynamic at home.

I share all of this with you because YOU are a part of this story. Every child and family who visit our campus are given an opportunity for healing because of the incredibly supportive community in which KidsTLC calls home. On behalf of the children and parents I work with every day, thank you for being a part of KidsTLC’s healing community.


Karalee White
Recreation Therapist at KidsTLC

Inside Scoop from Recreation Therapy was last modified: July 25th, 2020 by Tracy Mattis