Employment of recreational therapists is expected to increase 10 to 20 percent through the year 2008 because of anticipated expansion in long-term care, physical and psychiatric rehabilitation and services for people with disabilities. However, the total number of job openings will be relatively low, because the occupation is small. Opportunities should be best for those with a bachelor`s degree in therapeutic recreation or in recreation with a concentration in recreation therapy. The rapidly growing number of older adults is expected to spur job growth for recreation therapy specialists and recreation therapy paraprofessionals in assisted living facilities, adult day care programs and social service agencies.
A bachelor`s degree in recreation therapy or in recreation with a concentration in therapeutic recreation is the usual requirement for entry-level positions. Individuals may qualify for paraprofessional positions with an associate`s degree in therapeutic recreation or a healthcare-related field. An associate`s degree in recreation therapy, training in art, drama or music therapy, or qualifying work experience may be sufficient to become an activity director in a nursing home.
. Therapists must have graduated from an accredited program and passed either a certification exam to receive the national credentials CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist), and/or the state credentials RTC (Recreation Therapist Certified). A CTRS or an RTC plays an integral role working in conjunction with interdisciplinary team members, veterans, families, and friends to assist in a continuum of care from admission to discharge. A final transition to homes and to the community is a goal for many veterans and it is recreation therapy that helps to create the catalyst for successful community re-entry.
A CTRS/RTC utilizes recreation activities to assist veterans in attaining predetermined levels of functioningMultiple levels of an individual are addressed through a combination of three distinct categories: rehabilitation, leisure education, and recreation participation. These therapists help individuals reduce depression, stress and anxiety. They also help individuals recover basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, build confidence and socialize effectively to enable greater independence, as well as reduce or eliminate the effects of illness or disability. In long-term care and residential facilities, recreation therapists use leisure activities to improve and maintain general health and well being. They may also treat clients and provide interventions to prevent further medical problems and secondary complications.
The areas addressed are:
Leisure understanding and awareness
Leisure attitude and skills
Knowledge of resources and utilization
Community reintegration and participation
Recreation therapists assess clients based on information from standardized assessments, observations, medical records, medical staff, family and the clients themselves. They then develop and carry out therapeutic interventions consistent with client needs and interests. Recreational therapists should be comfortable working with persons who are ill or have disabilities. Therapists must be patient, tactful, and persuasive when working with people who have a variety of special needs. Ingenuity, a sense of humor, and imagination are needed to adapt activities to individual needs; and good physical coordination is necessary to demonstrate or participate in recreational activities