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.
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:
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.
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
interested in therapeutic recreation should contact schools for
information on admission and course of study.
For educational institutions in
offering this course of study click here.
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
$26,500 - $41,400
Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA)
Street, Suite 204
Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification
7 Elmwood Drive
New City, New York
Therapeutic Recreation Society (NTRS)
Ashburn, VA 20148