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Recreational Therapist

   

Recreational therapists, sometimes called activities therapists, plan and implement treatment programs in an effort to improve a patient’s physical, mental, and emotional well being. These treatment programs are usually prescribed by a physician, and consist of activities such as sports, music, games, arts and crafts, drama, dance, and field trips. Recreational therapists confer with physicians, nurses, families, and patients themselves to determine the goals and objectives of the therapy. They then develop a therapeutic regiment that is consistent with the patient’s needs, capabilities, and interests. They observe and document the patient’s progress or regression, then submit these reports to the physician and other members or the rehabilitation team so changes can be made if necessary. A recreational therapist’s main concern is helping an individual overcome adversity by building confidence, helping patient’s socialize effectively, and remedying the effects of illness or disability. Other work activities include maintaining the confidentiality of patient therapy records, educating the public on the benefits of an active lifestyle, and planning leisure activities for patients in nursing homes and residential care facilities. Recreational therapists may also specialize in areas such as manual arts therapy or horticultural therapy. Individuals interested in this type of therapy should have good communication skills and enjoy working with people with a wide range of therapeutic needs.  

 
Work Environment:

 

Recreational therapists work in a variety of environments including hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, long term and intermediate care facilities, correctional institutions, substance abuse centers, behavioral health centers, and private practice.


High School Preparation:

 

High school students interested in becoming a recreational therapist should concentrate on courses in biology, algebra, English, literature, physical education, computer skills, physical science, psychology, sociology, and health occupations/medical professions education.


College Requirements:

 

Individuals interested in recreational therapy must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers usually require a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy from an accredited institution, but may hire an individual with an associate degree or sufficient work experience. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification offers certification for therapeutic recreation specialists who pass a national examination.

 

Students interested in recreational therapy should contact schools for information on admission and course of study.

For educational institutions in Mississippi
offering this course of study click here.

Career Outlook:

 

Employment opportunities for recreational therapists are expected to grow steadily through the year 2012. The rapidly growing elderly population is expected to spur growth in the job market. While hospitals and nursing homes are cutting back on the recreational therapy staff to cut costs, outpatient settings will see a tremendous increase in the number of trained personnel needed. Employment will grow in assisted living facilities, outpatient physical and psychiatric rehabilitation clinics, and facilities specializing in services for people with disabilities. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree will have the best career opportunities in this field.
 

 

Salary:

 

Average Annual Salary

$34,100

 

Salary Range

$22,600 - $41,300

 

Professional Organizations:

 

American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA)

1313 Prince Street, Suite 204

Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: (703) 683-9420

Fax: (703) 683-9431

www.atra-tr.org

 

The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification

7 Elmwood Drive

New City, New York

Phone: (914) 639-1439

Fax: (845) 639-1471

www.nctrc.org

 

National Therapeutic Recreation Society (NTRS)

22377 Belmont Ridge Road

Ashburn, VA 20148

Phone: (703) 858-0784

Fax: (703) 858-0794

www.nrpa.org/content/

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