The University of Iowa

Therapeutic Recreation

Therapeutic Recreation imageTherapeutic Recreation service is a health-oriented field. It involves the provision of recreation programs designed to improve or maintain the physical, emotional, mental, and social functioning of persons with disabilities. It uses treatment, leisure education and recreational services to promote a satisfying leisure lifestyle among persons with acute and chronic impairments.

Degrees Available

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) with emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation
  • Master of Arts (MA) with emphasis in┬áTherapeutic Recreation

Career Options

Both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Leisure Studies with specialization in therapeutic recreation qualify the student to sit for the National Therapeutic Recreation Certification examination.

Recreational therapists work in both clinical and community-based settings with a wide variety of populations. The most frequent groups that therapeutic recreation professionals work with are: persons with mental illness, spinal cord and brain injuries, frail older adults, substance abuse and youth at risk, and persons with developmental disabilities.

Clinical settings tend to focus on rehabilitation, where the therapist works with a team of allied health professionals, or long-term care, where the therapist provides services that enhance quality of life of residents in nursing homes, assisted living centers, or respite care agencies.

Community-based therapeutic recreation is the fastest growing area of practice and the most varied. Community-based recreational therapists may be affiliated with community recreation departments, school systems, semi-independent living situations, special park districts, and community mental health agencies. The goals of therapeutic recreation in community-based settings tend toward enhancing quality of life, health promotion, and integration and inclusion of persons with disabilities in regular recreation programs.

For more information, the Pomerantz Career Center has links on careers related to Therapeutic Recreation.