Recreation Therapist and Founder
From a very young age Benson knew he wanted to “help people”. He gained an appreciation for active adventure in the outdoors running, sailing, swimming, and trampolining at his family cottage. His travels across Australia and experiences in Whistler BC solidified his resolve to help others experience the joy and fulfilment he had gained on his adventures. He earned a honours Bachelor of Health and Physical Education from Laurentain University with a specialization in Outdoor Adventure Leadership. He then, began guiding and participating in amazing adventures across Canada and abroad.
Benson provided instruction in rock and ice climbing in Scotland at the world largest indoor ice climbing wall. He led sea kayaking and cycling adventures throughout Nova Scotia. Benson toured brave participants in a raft through huge rapids on the Thompson and Frazer rivers in British Columbia. He experienced the largest tidal current in the world while crossing the Bay of Fundy NS in his sea kayak to support the “paddle to ocean” documentary. Benson traveled across Canada, United States, and Mexico paddling the most challenging white water on this continent. It was during these adventures that Benson was introduced to the profession of Therapeutic Recreation (the practice is called Recreation Therapy).
During his adventures Benson lost his mother in a tragic car accident. He was very close with his mother and Benson was very vulnerable struggling with his own mental health. He went on long runs to process his thoughts and cope with overwhelming emotions. He connected with friends, family, and the natural environment while on his adventures. Slowly Benson came to realize that he had gained a part of his mother within himself. This experience provided Benson very real firsthand experience of the amazing therapeutic potential of healthy recreation. Losing his mother gave Benson the strength and courage to pursue his dream of starting Be RT.
Benson knew that he needed more experience in Therapeutic Recreation in order to lead a successful private practice. He completed a Masters of Arts in Leisure Studies with a focus on Therapeutic Recreation from Dalhousie University. He wrote a Master’s thesis in which he studied youth with mental health and addiction issues. Benson designed an Outdoor Experiential Therapy program and collected qualitative data regarding youth experiences before, during, and after the program. The research revealed outcomes such as increased self-confidence, self-efficacy, personal responsibility, coping with hopelessness, safe decision making, and recognizing the benefits of healthy alternatives to substance use. Benson had gained an understanding of the benefits of recreation therapy from a research perspective, and from personal experience, he then turned his attention to gaining professional experience.
For three years Benson worked at a youth addictions treatment residence and learned the professional practice of recreation therapy from his mentors there. He earned his Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) designation. He then designed a new recreation therapy program for the youth acute psychiatric inpatient unit that serves Atlantic Canada’s most vulnerable young people. Benson spent 6 years expanding and refining recreation therapy services on the youth inpatient unit. He designed and facilitated diverse and creative recreation therapy programs such as; circus arts, music and recording, mountain biking, graffiti art, photography, mindfulness meditation, leisure sampling, capoeira, gymnastics, curling, theatre and improvisation, slack lining, and so many more. In order to sustain these programs Benson trained other Recreation Therapists, mentored Recreation Therapy students, managed volunteers, and partnered with community organizations. Benson feels privileged and blessed to have been given the opportunity to develop a recreation therapy program that helped to inspire thousands of youth struggling with mental, developmental, physical, emotional, and social issues.
Benson moved into a management and counselling role within a community mental health and addictions organization. He managed social workers and counsellors providing talk therapy to youth, adults, and older adults within schools, in office, and in the community. He was also able to work directly with clients and utilize his training in Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Emotion Focused Family Therapy (EFFT), Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Non-Violent Crisis Intervention Training (NVCI) etc. This role provided Benson with the experience and training to integrate talk therapy into his recreation therapy practice. After 2 years in this role Benson decided to dedicate himself to Be RT full time.
Dr. Robbie Campbell – Consulting Psychiatrist
We are pleased to have Dr. Robbie Campbell join our team as a consulting psychiatrist. He has been a longstanding advocate for mental health and has been a physician lead with Regional Mental Health Care London and is currently a physician lead with London Health Sciences Center, a consulting psychiatrist with the Fowler-Kennedy Clinic, and a professor emeritus with Western University.
Dr. Campbell has always encouraged his patients to actively participate in recreation therapy and sees our program as filling a huge gap in helping us move toward a healthy lifestyle. He comes from a sporting background that includes having been a captain and a Hall of Fame Western Mustang, an Edmonton Eskimo and now continues to walk, bike, play tennis and golf whenever he can. Needless to say, this lifelong commitment gives him a unique perspective especially when you add it to his world of teaching and research and, most importantly, patient care.
Robbie’s approach to life has always been about enjoying what you do and coming away with a smile. He has always been an eternal optimist and is recognized by his patients, colleagues and friends as a caring and inspirational leader who leads by example with an open, accepting and relaxing style. We welcome a valued and respected clinician who brings his vast experience and wealth of knowledge to Be RT.