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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:
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.
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Recreation Therapist
Top Careers After Recreation Therapist
Hispanic or Latino9.5%
Black or African American0.5%
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East Carolina University9.8%
Southern University and A & M College6.8%
University of Southern Mississippi5.7%
University of Phoenix5.7%
University of Toledo5.4%
Jackson State University5.4%
Indiana University Bloomington4.9%
Western Carolina University4.6%
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania4.4%
New York University4.1%
State University of New York College at Cortland4.1%
University of Iowa4.1%
Lehman College of the City University of New York4.1%
Old Dominion University4.1%
Grand Valley State University4.1%
Central Michigan University4.1%
Eastern Kentucky University4.1%
Brigham Young University3.8%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Recreation Therapist||California Department of Corrections &Amp; Rehabil||Stockton, CA||Oct 01, 2014||$69,168 -
|Recreational Therapists||Vacaville Psychiatric Program||Vacaville, CA||Jun 28, 2011||$68,148 -
|Recreational Therapists||Seyong Choi Physical Therapy||Los Angeles, CA||Feb 12, 2013||$67,500|
|Recreational Therapists||Seyong Choi Physical Therapy||Los Angeles, CA||Aug 16, 2013||$67,500|
|Recreational Therapists||Patton State Hospital||Patton Village, CA||May 05, 2011||$64,896 -
|Recreational Therapist||Coalinga State Hospital||Coalinga, CA||Jun 06, 2012||$64,896 -
|Recreational Therapists||Coalinga State Hospital||Coalinga, CA||Jan 23, 2014||$64,896 -
|Recreational Therapist||Coalinga State Hospital||Coalinga, CA||Nov 03, 2011||$64,896 -
|Recreational Therapist||East Coast Assistance Dogs||Torrington, CT||Mar 16, 2016||$64,459|
|Recreational Therapist Coordinator||Intergro Resources Inc.||Inglewood, CA||Nov 16, 2013||$62,610|
|Recreational Therapists||California Neuro-Rehabilitation Institute, Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Jun 28, 2011||$62,100|
|Recreational Therapists||Il Creation of Maryland, Inc.||Rockville, MD||May 29, 2012||$59,904|
|Recreational Therapist||Sutter East Bay Hospitals||Berkeley, CA||May 01, 2011||$58,853|
|Recreational Therapist||Patricia P. Dudley||San Anselmo, CA||Mar 27, 2015||$57,184|
|Recreational Therapist||Institute for Effective Behavioral Interventions, Inc.||CA||May 26, 2015||$51,064 -
|Recreational Therapist||Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, Inc.||Scottsdale, AZ||Sep 25, 2012||$50,000|
|Recreational Therapist||Body & Brain Yoga and Health Centers, Inc.||Scottsdale, AZ||Sep 25, 2015||$50,000|
|Recreational Therapists||Yonsei Pain Clinic, Inc.||Garden Grove, CA||Feb 24, 2014||$50,000|
|Recreational Therapist||Body & Brain Yoga and Health Centers, Inc.||Scottsdale, AZ||Sep 16, 2015||$50,000|
|Recreational Therapist||Boro Park Operating Co LLC||New York, NY||Apr 28, 2011||$43,785|
|Recreational Therapist||Boro Park Operating Co LLC||New York, NY||Feb 15, 2011||$43,785|
|Recreational Therapist||Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, Inc.||Hillsdale, NY||Sep 12, 2014||$43,000|
|Recreational Therapist||Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Sep 12, 2014||$43,000|
|Recreational Therapist||Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Sep 12, 2013||$43,000|
|Recreational Therapist/Rehabilitation Coordinator||C & K Healing Touch Physical Therapy, PC||New York, NY||Apr 01, 2011||$42,324|
|Recreational Therapists||The Auditory Oral School of New York||New York, NY||Feb 11, 2011||$42,182|
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Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, Inc.
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Mississippi State Hospital
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