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A recreational therapist utilizes a wide range of techniques to improve the physical, emotional, social and leisure needs of their clients. A recreational therapist works with the client, their family members and other close friends to improve their health condition. The goal of recreational therapy is to restore, remediate or rehabilitate in order to improve functioning and independence as well as reduce or eliminate the effects of illness or disability.[1]

Usually, recreational therapists are distinguished from physical and occupational therapists because they are helping the client cope with no longer being able to participate in meaningful leisure activities. For example, they may help a former professional athlete who has lost the ability to walk get over this by helping them play chess. They usually try to develop another interest for the patient.

US structure[]

In many states, such as New York, there is no licensing requirements for recreational therapists causing some to feel they are not given that much credibility by insurance companies, doctors, and patients. In other states, such as the West Coast California, recreational therapists are looked upon with as much respect as a physical therapist.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Professional organizations[]

The National Therapeutic Recreation Society [2] and the American Therapeutic Recreation Association [3] offer its members organizations much like other certified professions. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification [4], a charter member of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA), also provides a certification that expires after 5 years, and needs to be recertified at the end of the expiration period.

Educational programs[]

Many colleges and schools provide programs in recreational therapy.The University of Toledo[5] is one of several institutions that offer clinical training and a degree in recreational therapy. Some well-respected hospitals also have departments that focus on recreational therapy, such as the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.[6]

Recreation Therapists provide a variety of interventions including, but not limited to: leisure education/ counseling, values clarification, bibliotherapy, cinematherapy, horticulture therapy, therapeutic community, humor, therapeutic use of touch, relaxation techniques, physical activity, aromatherapy, tai chi, assertivness training, social skills training, cognitive rehabilitation, animal-assisted therapy, aquatic therapy, creative arts, reality orientation, validation therapy, remotivation, resocialization, sensory training, self-esteem training and reminiscence.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

See also[]


  1. The Recreational Therapy Professional (from the Health Professions Network website)
  2. NTRS (official National Therapeutic Recreation Society website)
  3. ATRA (official American Therapeutic Recreation Association website)
  4. National Therapeutic Recreation Certification website
  5. Recreational therapy at the University of Toledo, College of Health and Human Services, accessed 30 April, 2007
  6. Recreation Therapist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital website, accessed 30 April, 2007

External links[]

Therapeutic Recreation Exam Certification[]

Therapeutic Recreation Exam Certification[]

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