What is this job like?
Recreational therapists help people who are sick or hurt to get active again. They use sports, games, arts, crafts, and music to help patients build confidence and get back into life. These therapists are not the same as the recreation workers who conduct games and pastimes for fun.
Recreational therapists find out what patients need. They do this by looking at medical records and talking to other staff. They also listen to the patients and their families. They then make up a program to help the person. For instance, they might help a right-handed girl who can't use her right arm any more to throw a ball with her left arm.
Recreational therapists often work in special rooms at hospitals. They might also work with clients on a playing field or in a swimming pool. They plan events and keep records in offices. They generally work a 40-hour week. This may include some evenings, weekends, and holidays.
How do you get ready?
A college degree in recreation therapy is usually required. There are about 150 training programs in the U.S. Most programs offer bachelor's degrees. Some offer other degrees, such as associate or master's.
A national board certifies therapeutic recreation specialists. They must get a bachelor's degree. Then, they have to pass an exam.
Recreational therapists should be at ease working with disabled people. They have to be patient and tactful. They need imagination to adapt games to a person's needs. They must have good physical skills to show people how to do some activities.
Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
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