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Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

   

Therapeutic recreation specialists plan and implement leisure activities like arts and crafts, music, sports, games, dance, and field trips to help improve the functional skills of their patients. They start by assessing the client’s needs and functional abilities in order to design an appropriate program. They assist people of all ages who are challenged by varying degrees of mental and social disabilities. Once a patient’s needs are assessed, therapeutic recreation specialists work with them in goal-oriented programs and document their progress along the way. They observe the programs and activities closely in an effort to monitor the patient’s progress. Motivation and creative programs are used to encourage behavioral changes, increase social skills, and improve coordination.  Therapeutic recreation specialists may specialize in specific populations, such as pediatrics, adolescents, or geriatrics. They may also specialize in certain therapeutic activities, including art, dance, aquatics, and music. The ultimate goal for a therapeutic recreation specialist is to get the patient to overcome social, emotional, and environmental barriers so they can develop and maintain a fulfilling lifestyle. Individuals interested in recreation therapy should be creative, innovative, patient, and have good organizational and communication skills.


Work Environment:

 

Therapeutic recreation specialists work in employment settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, child and adult day care facilities, mental health agencies, rehabilitation centers, and federal and state agencies. They may act as therapists, counselors, educators, facilitators, or advocates in any number of different environments.


High School Preparation:

 

Students interested in a career as a therapeutic recreation specialist should take high school courses in algebra, biology, psychology, sociology, health occupations/medical professions education, English, computer skills, physical education, and speech.


College Requirements:

 

Individuals entering a therapeutic recreation specialist program should have a high school diploma or the equivalent. A bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation (or in recreation with an option in therapeutic recreation) is usually the requirement for hospital and clinical positions. An associate’s degree may be sufficient for some nursing home positions. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification offers a certification examination to anyone who has completed the required educational prerequisites. 

 

Students interested in therapeutic recreation should contact schools for information on admission and course of study.

For educational institutions in Mississippi
offering this course of study click here.

Career Outlook:

Employment opportunities for therapeutic recreation specialists are expected to grow steadily through the year 2012. There will be an increase of new job opportunities of nearly 10% over the next decade. The rapidly growing elderly population is expected to spur job growth. While hospitals and nursing homes are cutting back on their recreational therapy staff to conserve money, outpatient settings will see a tremendous increase in the number of trained personnel needed. Employment will grow in assisted living facilities, outpatient physical and psychiatric rehabilitation clinics, and facilities specializing in services for people with disabilities. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree will have the best career opportunities.
 

 

Salary:

 

Average Annual Salary

$35,600

 

Salary Range

$26,500 - $41,400

 

Professional Organizations:

 

American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA)

1313 Prince Street, Suite 204

Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: (703) 683-9420

Fax: (703) 683-9431

www.atra-tr.org

 

The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification

7 Elmwood Drive

New City, New York

Phone: (914) 639-1439

Fax: (845) 639-1471

www.nctrc.org

 

National Therapeutic Recreation Society (NTRS)

22377 Belmont Ridge Road

Ashburn, VA 20148

Phone: (703) 858-0784

Fax: (703) 858-0794

www.nrpa.org/content/

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