Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

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Recreational therapists typically do the following:

  • Assess clients’ needs through observations, medical records, standardized tests, and talking with medical staff, clients’ families, and the clients
  • Work with other healthcare professionals to form treatment plans
  • Create programs that meet clients’ needs and interests
  • Plan and carry out interventions to prevent harm to a client
  • Engage clients in activities, such as games, drama, and field trips
  • Help clients learn social skills needed to become or remain independent
  • Explain to clients ways to cope with anxiety or depression
  • Record and analyze a client’s progress

Recreational therapists help people reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic physical and mental abilities; build confidence; and socialize effectively. They help people with disabilities integrate into the community by teaching them how to use community resources and recreational activities.

Recreational therapists use activities, such as arts and crafts, dance and movement, or sports, to help their clients. For example, people who are paralyzed on one side may need therapists to teach them to recover basic motor skills, such as picking up a cup with their functional side.

Therapists may help people with disabilities by teaching them how to use community resources, such as public transportation or parks. They may also provide interventions to clients who need help developing new coping skills. For example, they might encourage clients who have limited social skills to play games with others.

Recreational therapists work in places such as substance abuse centers, rehabilitation centers, assisted living facilities, special education departments, and parks and recreation departments. Therapists who work in hospitals and rehabilitation centers may work with physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.

Career Outlook: 
Career Outlook data is specific to New Hampshire State.
Number of Jobs 2010: 
58
Number of Projected Jobs 2020: 
64
Jobs Percentage Change: 
10.3%
Total Annual Openings: 
3
Growth Outlook: 
Less Favorable
June 2013 Entry Level Wage: 
$18.74
June 2013 Mean Wage: 
$22.30
June 2013 Experienced Wage: 
$24.07
Salary Range: 
$40,000 - $60,000
Education Requirements: 
Programs: 
Time to Complete: 
4 years

Education Levels:

Time to Complete: 
2 years

Education Levels:

License and Certification Requirements: 
Coding Certification Required: 
Yes
Coding License Required: 
Yes
Certification(s) Required: 
Yes
List of Required Certifications: 
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
Certification Requirements: 
To be certified you must complete a 480-hour twelve week internship in therapeutic recreation services; complete a Bachelor's degree pertaining to Recreation therapy, and pass a written examination.
License Required: 
Yes
License Requirements: 
To be certified you must complete a 480-hour twelve week internship in therapeutic recreation services; complete a Bachelor's degree pertaining to Recreation therapy, and pass a written examination.
Career Categories: 

Types of Work:

Workplace Environment: 
Hospital
Long-Term Care Facility
School or Institution
Types of Interaction: 
Direct Patient Interaction
Independently