Recreation Therapy

What is Recreation Therapy? Related Career Titles
Related Major Skills Job & Internship Search Links
Career Planning Links Professional Association Links
Miscellaneous Resources UNCW Recreation Therapy

UNCW Dept of Health & Applied Human Sciences


What is Recreation Therapy?

Recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being.

Further, "Recreational Therapy” means 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 an illness or disabling condition.

What is the relationship between recreational therapy and therapeutic recreation?

  • Therapeutic Recreation is the field
  • ​​Recreational Therapy is the practice
  • ​Recreational Therapists are the practitioners
  • ​The CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) is the qualified provider

What do Recreational Therapists do?

A recreational therapist utilizes a wide range of activity and community based interventions and techniques to improve the physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and leisure needs of their clients. Recreational therapists assist clients to develop skills, knowledge, and behaviors for daily living and community involvement. The therapist works with the client and their family to incorporate specific interests and community resources into therapy to achieve optimal outcomes that transfer to their real life situation.

UNCW now has an admission process to the Recreation Therapy major.

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Related Career Titles

(Some positions listed below require advanced education. Recreation Therapy is a good bachelor's degree for students wishing to attend graduate school in occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech pathology, or child life.)

Recreational Therapist Director of Therapies
Senior Citizen Programmer Clinical Specialist
Activity Professional/Director Youth Camp Recreation Therapist
Community Rec Programmer Recreation Program Asst
Program Specialist Rehabilitation Counselor
Healthcare Consultant  
Employment settings for the therapeutic recreation specialist:
Hospitals Rehabilitation Centers
Outpatient Centers Home Healthcare
Retirement Communities Veterans Administration Hospitals
Specialty Schools (blind, deaf, etc) Healthcare Organizations
Nursing homes Correctional Facilities
Psychiatric facilities Senior Centers
Adult Day Care Universities/Colleges
Assisted Living  Self-employed

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Related Major Skills

People oriented Excellent communication skills
Motor skills Physical coordination
Patience Perseverance
Persuasiveness Motivational skills
Ability to design & implement rehabilitative programs Leadership
Creativity Ability to plan recreational activities

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Job & Internship Search Links

SeaWork (be sure to check out these links also in SeaWork: CareerShift,,, and GoinGlobal)

Job Search Resources

Therapeutic Recreation Job Bulletin Board

Rehab - job listings

American Therapeutic Recreation Association job postings



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Career Planning Links

Candid Career Videos

Occupational Outlook Handbook

O*NET OnLine

NC Tower

About therapeutic recreation

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Professional Association Links

North Carolina Recreation Therapy Association

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association

NCTRC - National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification

NCBRTL - North Carolina Board of Recreational Therapy Licensure

New York State Therapeutic Recreation Association - excellent links!

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Miscellaneous Resources

Recreation Therapy Directory: resources for therapeutic recreation professionals

Craig Hospital in Denver: National Center of Excellence in the specialty of rehabilitation and research for patients for spinal cord and brain injury

Therapeutic recreation chat rooms

Cornerstones Magazine Online: Therapeutic Editorial Library

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