What is a Recreation Therapist?
Recreation Therapists help individuals to improve their quality of life and health using meaningful recreation and leisure activities. Therapeutic recreation involves using these activities to cultivate confidence, self-esteem, improve cognition, strength and mobility, and build connection to community.
In addition to actively conducting therapeutic recreation with their clients, Recreation Therapists may also:
- Conduct client intakes
- Make referrals
- Advocate for their client
- Conduct assessments
- Write case notes
Recreation therapists might work in:
- Long term care homes
- Community centres
- In the home
- Rehabilitation centres
- The average Recreation Therapist salary in Canada is $63,375 per year or $32.50 per hour.
- Most experienced workers make up to $92,957 per year.
Schooling Entry Requirements
All programs require a high school diploma or equivalent and grade 12 English (C or U). Many have a minimum grade requirement between 70% and 80%. Some programs urge applicants to pursue relevant volunteer experience prior to application.
There are a variety of educational pathways available to those interested in Therapeutic Recreation. They include:
- 4-year degree in Therapeutic Recreation
- 2-year recreation therapy college diploma
- 2-year recreation & leisure services college diploma
- 1-year post-graduate certificate in therapeutic recreation (relevant degree or diploma required)
There are three schools in Ontario that offer 4-year degree programs: Brock University, Seneca College and University of Waterloo.
There are four schools in Ontario that offer a 2-year Recreation Therapy diploma: Canadore College, Confederation College, Lambton College, Mohawk College.
Graduate certificates are offered at: Fleming College, Georgian College, St. Lawrence College.
Depending on the environment a Recreational Therapist works in, the job may involve physical activity and movement. As with any patient-facing role, good communication, strong interpersonal skills and empathy are important skills to have.
Working with vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities, youth, and older adults will likely require a Vulnerable Sector Police Check.
Professionals can choose to pursue voluntary membership with Therapeutic Recreation Ontario, pursuing either the “R/TRO” designation for those with a degree, or the “R/TRO DIP” designation for those with a diploma. Professionals can also pursue additional membership with the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association.
Professionals can become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation, writing an international exam and maintaining professional education and practice hours.