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Certified Recreational Therapist

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Become A Certified Recreational Therapist

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Working As A Certified Recreational Therapist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $77,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Certified Recreational Therapist Do

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. These therapists use a variety of modalities, including arts and crafts; drama, music, and dance; sports and games; aquatics; and community outings to help maintain or improve a patient’s physical, social, and emotional well-being.

Duties

Recreational therapists typically do the following:

  • Assess patients’ needs through observations, medical records, tests, and discussions with other healthcare professionals, patients’ families, and patients
  • Create treatment plans and programs that meet patients’ needs and interests
  • Plan and implement interventions to prevent harm to a patient
  • Engage patients in therapeutic activities, such as exercise, games, and community outings
  • Help patients learn social skills needed to become or remain independent
  • Teach patients about ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Record and analyze a patient’s progress
  • Evaluate interventions for effectiveness

Recreational therapists help people reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic physical and mental abilities; build confidence; and socialize effectively.

They use activities, such as arts and crafts, dance, or sports, to help their patients. For example, a recreational therapist can help a patient who is paralyzed on one side of their body by teaching them to adapt activities, like casting a fishing rod or swinging a golf club, by using their functional side.

Therapists often treat specific groups of patients, such as children with cancer. Therapists may use activities such as kayaking or a ropes course to teach patients to stay active and to form social relationships.

Recreational therapists help people with disabilities integrate into the community by teaching them how to use community resources and recreational activities. For example, therapists may teach a patient who uses a wheelchair how to use public transportation.

Therapists may also provide interventions for patients who need help developing social and coping skills. For example, a therapist may use a therapy dog to help patients manage their depression or anxiety.

Therapists may work with physicians or surgeons, registered nurses, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, teachers, or occupational therapists. Recreational therapists are different from recreation workers, who organize recreational activities primarily for enjoyment.

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How To Become A Certified Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Many employers require therapists to be certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).

Education

Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree, usually in recreational therapy or a related field such as recreation and leisure studies.

Recreational therapy programs include courses in assessment, human anatomy, medical and psychiatric terminology, characteristics of illnesses and disabilities, and the use of assistive devices and technology. Bachelor’s degree programs usually include an internship.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most employers, particularly those in hospitals and other clinical settings, prefer to hire certified recreational therapists. The NCTRC offers the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential. Candidates may qualify for certification through one of two pathways. The first option requires a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy, which includes the completion of a supervised internship of at least 560 hours, and passing an exam. The second option also requires passing an exam, but allows candidates with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject to qualify with a combination of education and work experience. Therapists must take continuing education classes to maintain certification.

NCTRC also offers specialty certification in five areas of practice: behavioral health, community inclusion services, developmental disabilities, geriatrics, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. Therapists also may earn certificates from other organizations to show proficiency in specific therapy techniques, such as aquatic therapy or aromatherapy.

As of 2014, only New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah required recreational therapists to obtain a license. Requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact the state’s medical board.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Recreational therapists should be kind and empathetic when providing support to patients and their families. They may deal with patients who are in pain or under emotional stress.

Leadership skills. Recreational therapists must be able to plan, develop, and implement intervention programs in an effective manner. They must be engaging and able to motivate patients to participate in a variety of therapeutic activities.

Listening skills. Recreational therapists must listen carefully to a patient’s problems and concerns. They can then determine an appropriate course of treatment for that patient.

Patience. Recreational therapists may work with some patients who require more time and special attention than others.

Resourcefulness. Recreational therapists customize treatment plans for patients. They must be both creative and flexible when adapting activities or programs to each patient’s needs.

Speaking skills. Recreational therapists need to communicate well with their patients. They must give clear directions during activities or instructions on healthy coping techniques.

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Certified Recreational Therapist Typical Career Paths

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Top Skills for A Certified Recreational Therapist

  1. Recreation Therapy
  2. Treatment Plans
  3. Intake Assessments
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide individualized recreation therapy to primarily stroke and brain injury home and community clientele.
  • Developed treatment plans to meet needs of patient, based on needs assessment, patient interests and objectives of therapy.
  • Planned, developed, and executed therapeutic recreation programs for general adult psychiatric populations.
  • Participate in Treatment Team meetings to discuss patient care.
  • Completed evaluation, wrote goals, attended interdisciplinary staff meetings.

Certified Recreational Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

74.2%

Male

17.5%

Unknown

8.2%
Ethnicity

White

65.3%

Black or African American

14.4%

Hispanic or Latino

11.0%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

3.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

Italian

25.0%

Yiddish

25.0%

Certified Recreational Therapist Education

Schools

University of Southern Mississippi

13.0%

Texas State University

8.7%

Eastern Kentucky University

8.7%

Oklahoma State University

6.5%

University of Southern Maine

4.3%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

4.3%

University of Phoenix

4.3%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

4.3%

Grambling State University

4.3%

University of Pennsylvania

4.3%

Florida State University

4.3%

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

4.3%

University of Iowa

4.3%

Aurora University

4.3%

Temple University

4.3%

Old Dominion University

4.3%

Longwood University

4.3%

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

2.2%

Valdosta State University

2.2%

Eastern Michigan University

2.2%
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Majors

Rehabilitation Science

40.2%

Recreation Management

16.3%

Special Education

5.4%

Education

4.3%

Parks And Recreation Management

3.3%

Mental Health Counseling

3.3%

Nursing

3.3%

Management

2.2%

Natural Resources Management

2.2%

Health Sciences And Services

2.2%

Health Education

2.2%

Business

2.2%

Counseling Psychology

2.2%

Gerontology

2.2%

Kinesiology

2.2%

Social Work

2.2%

Psychology

1.1%

School Counseling

1.1%

Sociology

1.1%

Finance

1.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

54.4%

Masters

27.2%

Other

9.7%

Associate

3.9%

Certificate

2.9%

Diploma

1.0%

Doctorate

1.0%
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