Recreational therapy (RT), also known as therapeutic recreation, is 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.
RT follows a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions. This process involves assessment of an individual's needs and functioning, planning of interventions, implementation of services, evaluation of interventions and client progress and documentation (APIED) of services provided. There is a purpose behind each of the activities prescribed by an RT that are specifically targeted to each participant in effort to improve or maintain physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual functioning and facilitate full participation in life.
The unique feature of RT that makes it different from other therapies is the use of recreational modalities in the designed intervention strategies. RT is extremely individualized to each person by his or her past, present and future interests and lifestyle. Incorporating client's interests, and the client's family and/or community makes the therapy process meaningful and relevant. Recreational therapists weave the concept of healthy living into treatment to ensure not only improved functioning, but also to enhance independence and successful involvement in all aspects of life.
Recreational therapy is provided in a variety of settings where the therapeutic process is used. Recreational therapists practice in settings such as inpatient and outpatient physical rehabilitation, inpatient and outpatient mental health, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living, adult day programs, park and recreation, adapted sports programs, acute care hospitals, pediatric hospitals and programs and school systems to name a few places.
Recreational therapy is provided by qualified professionals know as Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS). For more information on the requirements to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, please visit the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) website online. Several states also require recreational therapists to be licensed within their states.
Research indicates that Recreational Therapy enhances participant outcomes and reduces healthcare costs by:
- Providing active, outcome focused care which achieves results
- Enabling the generalization of skill developed in treatment to their home and community environments
- Reducing the effects of primary and secondary disabilities
- Providing treatment through cost effective means such as in small and large group settings
- Serving as a cost-effective means to enhance or replace other more costly services
- Addressing the whole person with the focus on enhancing independent functioning within physical, social, cognitive and emotional domains
- Training individuals to identify and utilize community resources that enable independent functioning
- Focusing on skills that carry over to everyday life and can make a difference in a person’s quality of life
- Providing a diversity of interventions which are cost effective, add value and have significant durability across an individual’s lifespan.
Temple University offers local Recreational Therapy degree options to students seeking entry into the profession. What sets apart Temple University’s Recreational Therapy Major from others is a an innovative approach to health promotion, a dynamic urban environment, and history as a nationally renowned program. The Bachelor of Science in Recreational Therapy at Temple’s College of Public Health prepares you to become a recreational therapist trained to work in a range of environments, including healthcare and community-based settings. Students have multiple opportunities to practice RT in clinical settings throughout their junior and senior years in the program with site and faculty supervisory support, in order to apply education they have learned in the classroom to live situations with participants and prepare them further to enter the field confidently and capably.
The Recreational Therapy Bachelor’s program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs/Committee on Accreditation of Recreational Therapy Education. The program is designed to prepare students to become competent entry-level recreational therapists in the affective (behavior), cognitive (knowledge) and psychomotor (skills) learning domains.
Temple University’s College of Public Health offers the option of earning both a BS and an MS in Recreational Therapy in five years, rather than taking the typical six years to complete both degrees. Temple University also offers an online Master of Science in Recreational Therapy at Temple’s College of Public Health which is designed for individuals who want to practice evidence-based recreational therapy within healthcare and human services. This master’s program does not require prerequisite courses to qualify for admission, and as such, students may be required to take additional courses necessary for national certification.
Please check out these videos to learn more about Recreational Therapy:
This summary was drawn from information collected through the American Therapeutic Recreation Association and National Council for Therapeutic Recreation websites at https://www.atra-