Are you interested in creating recreation experiences and opportunities for individuals with disabilities? If so, the Recreational Therapy concentration may be what you are looking for!
Recreational therapy is a cost-effective healthcare profession that uses active treatments such as leisure, sport, play, and community participation to increase the well-being and functional outcomes for people with individuals experiencing disability or health conditions. Recreational therapy was defined by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (2009) as: “A treatment service designed to restore, remediate and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities, to promote health and wellness as well as reduce or eliminate the activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by illness or disabling condition.”
More simply stated, recreational therapy improves functional outcomes for people with health conditions using active treatments such as leisure, sport, play, and community participation. Recreational therapists are nationally certified and use the clinical process of assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
Therapeutic recreation specialists typically work with individuals who have some type of cognitive, emotional, and/or physical limitation. For example, you may find therapeutic recreation specialists who work with hospitalized children who have cancer or are recovering from burns, adolescents and adults with psychiatric disorders, youth at-risk, older adults recovering from strokes or living with dementia, children and adults with developmental disabilities such as intellectual disability, children and adults with physical impairments such as strokes or spinal cord injuries. A variety of agencies employ certified therapeutic recreation specialists, including community based recreation agencies, camps, schools, children's hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, physical rehabilitation hospitals, general hospitals, adult day care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes, to name a few!
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “fast employment growth [in therapeutic recreation] is expected in assisted living, outpatient physical and psychiatric rehabilitation, and [community] services for people with disabilities.” The median annual salary for therapeutic recreation specialists in 2000 was $28,650. According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, the mean salary among a random sample of their members was $35,656 in 2006.
The national organization for therapeutic recreations specialists is the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). We encourage students to consider joining ATRA. There are membership applications on-line and you may join ATRA via its website.
Students who complete the BS or MS programs will be eligible to sit for certification from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS).
Finally, students considering a major in TR or students enrolled in our program who are looking for internship sites or program ideas may benefit from pursuing the Therapeutic Recreation Directory.
Example of Job Opportunities as a Recreation Therapist
- Community based recreation agencies
- Children's hospitals
- Psychiatric hospitals
- Physical rehabilitation hospitals
- General hospitals
- Adult day care
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing homes
Links of Interest