Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists use recreation as a mean of therapy to improve or maintain the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people with illness, injuries or disabilities. They use a variety of techniques including music, dance, drama, arts and crafts, animals, sports, games, community outings etc. to promote wellness of their clients. Their duties include coordinating recreation-based treatment programs; assisting people to identify their need for treatment; analyzing clients’ reactions, participation, and progress; providing emotional support etc. These professionals may specialize in certain populations, such as the elder people, women, teens, or children.
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists can work in a variety of environments, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult day centers, residential living facilities, rehabilitation centers, prisons, educational institutions etc. Most of these professionals work full time.
To become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, the aspiring candidates need to earn a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from an accredited college or university. The four-year degree program is largely science-based, with a strong focus on medical concepts. The coursework includes psychology, physiology, sociology, kinesiology, introduction to therapeutic recreation etc.
Students can also pursue a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in therapeutic recreation for better job prospects in this field.
Certification and Licensure
Since most of states of USA require a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist to be licensed, the aspiring candidates have to earn a License. National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) offers exam-based certification for these professionals along with other specialty certifications in areas such as developmental disabilities, behavioral health etc.
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists possess various traits such as empathy towards people, ability to deal with aggressive and/or intoxicated clients, organizing and management abilities, ability to motivate people, sympathetic to the needs and disabilities of the clients, pleasant communications and interpersonal skills, competency in computer etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist remains excellent across the USA. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 13% from 2012 to 2022. The average annual salary of a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist was $42,280 in May 2012.