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Miami VA Healthcare System

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Recreation and Creative Arts Therapy Service

Program Mission

The mission of the Recreation and Creative Arts Therapy Service is to provide Veterans with services that contribute to their specific physical, psychological and social goals of a comprehensive treatment program through Recreation, Music and Horticulture therapies. The healthy use of leisure is essential to assist a person in realizing his/her maximum self-potential.

Program Description

Recreation Therapy uses activities for purposeful intervention in physical, emotional, and/or social conditions to bring about a desired change in that condition, and to promote the growth and development of the adult and/or geriatric patient as an individual. The Recreation and Creative Arts Therapy staff consists of Recreational Therapists, Music Therapists, and Recreation Therapy Co-Op employees

The majority of the clients referred to the Recreation Therapy Division are from the Behavioral Health, Medical Rehabilitation, or Geriatrics and Extended Care Units or clinics.

Services Provided

Comprehensive therapeutic recreation services involve a continuum of care, to include:

  • Therapy that utilizes activities to remediate or rehabilitate functional abilities and to assist in diagnosis.
  • Leisure Education that utilizes activities to acquire skills, knowledge and attitudes that facilitate an independent lifestyle and avocation competence.
  • Recreation Participation that utilizes activities to enhance health, growth and independence through intrinsically rewarding leisure behavior.

Animal Assisted Activity/Therapy

-“I hope you continue doing things like this for all because it really gave me a sense of peace. Plus even with all of my injuries,  I never thought I would get to go swimming. I did and was extremely comfortable.”

-“My stress, anxiety, and irritability melted away in the water as I bonded with my wonderful hosts Bella and Rigi (dolphins).”

Dolphins were recently added to the Recreation Therapy Animal Assisted Activity/Therapy (AAA/AAT) Program. The AAA/AAT Program utilizes the historic relationship between animals and humans to restore function in a fun environment and assist Veterans with overcoming potential barriers/deficits in their physical, psychological, emotional, sensory and cognitive domains. The Miami VA AAA/AAT Program includes dogs, cats, fish, birds, ponies and now dolphins.

‘Swim with the Dolphins’ treatment is geared toward addressing issues including difficulty seeing positive traits in self, frustration, anxiety due to change, stability of mood with outcomes directed toward expression of satisfaction with change, stability of mood, increased tolerance, ability to identify positive aspects about themselves and identification of enjoyment.

Additional areas that can be addressed include impaired mobility, poor eye-hand coordination, balance and endurance, as well as thinking, problem solving, decision making, and sensory stimulation through interactions with an animal/mammal.

The Miami VA welcomes the addition of Dolphins to our treatment team!

Contact Info


  • Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center
    Room B825

Contact Number(s)

  • 305-575-7000 Ext. 4143

Hours of Operation

  • Monday - Friday
    8 a.m. - 5 p.m.