Therapeutic recreation specialists plan, direct, or coordinate medically approved recreation programs for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, or other institutions. Activities include sports, trips, dramatics, social activities, and arts and crafts. The therapeutic recreation specialist may assess a patient condition and recommend appropriate recreational activity.
Therapeutic recreation specialists help individuals reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. They also help individuals recover basic motor functioning and reasoning abilities, build confidence, and socialize effectively to enable greater independence, and reduce or eliminate the effects of illness or disability. They help integrate people with disabilities into the community by helping them use community resources and recreational activities.
Health care facilities will provide a growing number of jobs in hospital-based adult day care and outpatient programs and in units offering short-term mental health and alcohol or drug abuse services. Recreational therapists provide services in special activity rooms but also plan activities and prepare documentation in offices. When working with clients during community integration programs, they may travel locally to instruct clients on the accessibility of public transportation and other public areas such as parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, restaurants, and theaters.
Employment of recreational therapists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As the large baby-boom generation ages, they will need recreational therapists to help treat age-related injuries and illnesses, such as strokes. Recreational therapists will also be needed to help patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.
A bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation, or in recreation with a concentration in therapeutic recreation, is the usual requirement for entry-level positions. Persons may qualify for paraprofessional positions with an associate degree in therapeutic recreation or a health care-related field. An associate degree in recreational therapy; training in art, drama, or music therapy; or qualifying work experience may be sufficient for activity director positions in nursing homes.
Most employers prefer to hire candidates who are certified therapeutic recreation specialists (CTRS).
Licensure is not required in the state of Connecticut.
American Therapeutic Recreation Association
629 North Main Street
Hattiesburg, MS 39401