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What does a Recreational Therapist do?

Learn all about Recreational Therapist duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Recreational Therapist.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A recreational therapist is a health care professional who helps people with physical, mental, or social disabilities to improve their overall health and well-being through participation in therapeutic recreation and other activities.

Recreational Therapist job duties include:

  • Assess patients to determine their physical, mental, emotional, and social needs
  • Plan and implement treatment programs to improve patients’ functioning level and independence
  • Instruct patients and caregivers in proper methods of using adaptive equipment
  • Lead or participate in recreational activities such as arts and crafts, games, sports, etc.
  • Monitor patients’ progress and adjust treatments accordingly
  • Document patients’ progress and communicate findings to other members of the healthcare team
  • Maintain a safe and clean treatment environment
  • Stay up-to-date on new developments in the field of recreational therapy
  • Supervise recreation therapy aides and assistants

Recreational Therapist Job Requirements

Most recreational therapists have at least a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field. Some states have licensure requirements for recreational therapists. Many employers also require certification by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). Some recreational therapists also have a master’s degree.

Recreational Therapist Skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Planning
  • Time management
  • Writing
  • Public speaking
  • Active listening
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Empathy
  • Compassion

Related: Top Recreational Therapist Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Recreational Therapist

There are many steps that one must take in order to become a Recreational Therapist. The first and most important step is to obtain a bachelor's degree in recreation therapy from an accredited university. Once you have obtained your degree, you must then pass the national exam administered by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). After passing the exam, you will be a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS).

The next step is to find a job in a hospital, nursing home, rehabilitation center, or other health care facility that offers recreation therapy services. Once you have been hired, you will need to complete on-the-job training. After completing your training, you will be able to work independently as a recreation therapist.

Recreational therapists use a variety of techniques to help their patients improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They may use activities such as arts and crafts, sports, games, and music to help their patients achieve their goals.

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