Individuals wishing to obtain employment as a therapeutic recreation specialist traditionally earn a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation. Masters and doctoral programs are available. Academic course work addresses such areas as therapeutic recreation philosophy, recreation foundations, administration, psychology, physical sciences, and other related subjects.
Certification as a therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS) is offered through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). This is a nationally recognized organization for the field. Applicants for certification must meet educational standards to be eligible to sit for the national examination. This is a voluntary credentialing program but is required in most professional therapeutic recreation jobs.
Persons employed as therapeutic recreation specialists work towards the independent leisure functioning of persons with a wide variety of disabling conditions including physical, mental, social, and emotional. They facilitate a holistic process of treatment to bring clients through a continuum of leisure proficiency. The therapeutic recreation professional provides individual therapy, leisure education, community integration, leisure values clarification, and the opportunity to participate in quality leisure activities. It is intended that through the acquisition of leisure skills that a person can experience a higher quality of life and independent functioning.
Therapeutic recreation specialists are employed in a variety of rehabilitation and community settings including municipal park and recreation departments, psychiatric or head injury treatment centers, correctional facilities, camps, state institutions, public and private comprehensive rehabilitation centers, community mental health centers, and independent living facilities.
According to a survey by the National Therapeutic Recreation Society, the average salary for recreational therapists was $31,472 in 1994. The average annual salary for all recreational therapists in the federal government in nonsupervisory, supervisory and managerial positions was about $35,954 in 1995 (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 1996).
Additional Information Source
National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC)
P.O. Box 479
Thiells, NY 10984-0479