Recreational therapists use recreational activities and exercises to treat individuals suffering from debilitating illness and disease. Therapies may involve taking walks, participating in light sports or even playing board games with recovering patients.
Entering the field requires a bachelor's degree, but those who wish to be a recreational therapy aide can enroll in a certificate program. Curriculum consists of traditional coursework, clinical work and internship opportunities.
In some instances, admission to these programs requires home health aide certification and professional experience. Other programs require a bachelor's degree or equivalent professional experience as an occupational therapist assistant. Recreational therapy aides may earn professional certification by passing a national examination.
Certificate Programs in Recreational Therapy
Lecture courses focus on the foundations and practices of recreational therapy. Such courses include:
- Philosophy of rehabilitation
- Patient care and communication
- Wellness and leisure
- Recreational implementation
- Recreational programming
- Common patient conditions
Recreational therapy aides provide assistance to licensed recreational therapists in a variety of locations:
- Outpatient care clinics
- Nursing homes
- General hospitals
- Substance abuse clinics
- Psychiatric hospitals
- Government and community facilities
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't publish information about recreational therapy aides, it does have data pertaining to the closely related field of occupational therapy aides. As of May 2015, these aides earned a median salary of $54,520. Employment opportunities for occupational therapy assistants and aides were projected to increase 40% from 2014-2024.
Each state has its own requirements for recreational therapist aides, as well as recreational therapists. Some states have associations, such as the North Carolina Recreational Therapy Association, that are specifically devoted to recreational therapy and offer certification examinations for aides. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification also offers national certification for recreational therapy assistants.
In recreational therapy certificate programs, students gain knowledge about essential subjects, such as rehabilitation, wellness, program development, and patient care, to prepare for employment as recreational therapy aides.