Macmillan, Ainsley Katherine - Therapeutic Recreationist

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[edit] Job title (Ainsley MacMillan)

Therapeutic Recreationist (TR)

[edit] General overview

Positions in therapeutic recreation require an inter-personal team to promote a leisure lifestyle that contributes to the social, physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive needs of clients. Therapeutic Recreation enables all clients to achieve best health and quality of life through participation of recreation and leisure experiences. According to the Therapeutic Recreation of Ontario (TRO), “The purpose of TR is to enable all individuals to achieve quality of life and optimal health through meaningful participation in recreation and leisure. The profession recognizes the importance of the recreation experience and supports all individuals in having full access to and the freedom to choose recreation and leisure opportunities"[1]

[edit] Job duties and responsibilities

Job duties and responsibilities include planning, implementing, developing and evaluating recreational plans and/or interventions for individuals or groups [1]. For example, and Activity Analysis Rating Form may be used to determine the physical, social, cognitive, affective, administrative aspects that are required to successfully plan an intervention [1]. Planning involves designing a written treatment plan to address individual needs. Evaluations are valuable to determine efficacy and progression of recreations plans and/or interventions [1]. For example, Post-Session Analysis evaluations are used to evaluate individual goals at the conclusion of each session and at the end of the program [1]). It will be the Therapeutic Recreationist’s responsibility to ensure teamwork is achieved in a multi-disciplinary field, ensure diversity and work place compliance with all rules and regulatory requirements [1].

[edit] Typical workday

The usual hours of a TR include 8-hour days 5 days a week. Those days may include weekends with alternate days off. This could include a rotating schedule with other TRs. This will also be dependent on the facility. The work setting will include but is not limited to hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centres, mental health centres, nursing homes, long term care facilities, community centres, correctional facilities, schools and camps [2]. TRs work as an interpersonal team player. For example, employment within a hospital setting will include communications with doctors, nurses, other therapists and client’s family members and close friends. Clients will include all ages and all ethnic backgrounds with various disabilities, illnesses, socioeconomic status, and mental health capabilities [3]. Clients can be aided independently or within a group setting. Special tools or technologies required will be dependent upon the client and their illness or disability. For example, a client may require the use of assistive technology in order remove barriers to recreation.

[edit] Educational requirements and other qualifications

The following list of educational institutions are examples of various degrees, diplomas and certificates that are required in order to work as a Therapeutic Recreationist. Formal education [1] University Programs (4 year Honours degree) Brock University University of Waterloo Other 4 year Programs Seneca College Ontario College Graduate Certificate (1 year) Fleming College Georgian College Lambton College Other Graduate Certificates Centennial College Recreational Therapy Diplomas (2 years) Canadore College Confederation College Mohawk College Niagara College Other Education Recreation and Leisure Programs at various Canadian colleges.

[edit] Additional training

The programs at Brock University, University of Waterloo and Seneca College’s 4-year program all incorporate field placement and work terms. This provides an opportunity to acquire skills required by many employers. For example, it is important that a TR have the ability to assess, plan, implement and evaluate (APIE) interventions for a variety of clients. Interventions are related to the needs and goals of the clients. Additional training could include TR specific employment. For example, individuals in TR who use aquatic therapy for clients should hold valid lifeguard certification. Similarly, if a TR is working specifically with addiction and mental health patients it may be useful obtain crisis training. Many TRs also hold Canadian Personal Training certification. It helps to understand the body and biomechanics when dealing with disability and/or illness that may require modifications or adaptations.

[edit] Related skills, interests, and abilities

Memberships with the Therapeutic Recreation Ontario (TRO) or the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association (CTRA) will be valuable. They offer information about education, seminars and conferences provincially. It may also be valuable to similarly live an active, healthy lifestyle. Personal characteristics are very important to TR positions. TR’s must possess compassion, sympathy, kindness, patience, communication skills, leadership skills and critical thinking skills. Additionally, they will be required to be well versed in human anatomy, medical and psychology terminology, and assessments. They should also be able to identify characteristics of illnesses and disabilities.

[edit] Relevance of Psychology undergraduate degree

There are many elements from undergraduate training that are applicable to this career path. A few courses that Brock University offers include Drugs and Behaviour, Stress and Human Motivation. Drugs and behaviour could provide the framework when working with individuals with addictions. For example, knowing the effects and interactions of drugs on various clients could help a TR determine course of treatment and interventions best suited to the client. This course also delineates between recreational drugs and prescription drugs. Additionally, this course could offer insight into the mental functions that accompany addictive behaviours and help determine coping therapies beneficial to the client’s success. Stress is a very dominant part of life and it can be more so for clients with disabilities and or illness. This particular course could provide key aspects to focus on and how to determine the effects of stress on physical and mental health. Understanding the behavioural effects of stress on a person will also help develop successful coping strategies and interventions. Human Motivation is another course offered at Brock University that would provide multiple benefits to a TR career. Social, cognitive, behavioural and biological concepts are intrinsic to TR therapies, assessments, interventions and programs. Understanding the influence of emotions for a client will also help determine the best interventions to achieve their goals within the TR definition. It would be important to understand how their behavioural functions could be positively applied to their relationships. While there may be less opportunity to understand a client’s motivation from a biological point of view it could be beneficial to understand that addictions can be caused from a biological standpoint. Similarly, it could be beneficial to help program a client with depression or an eating disorder. What would be helpful to motivate them to improved health?

[edit] Salary potential

According to [4], the average wage for a Canadian Recreationist wage is $25.35 per hour. The Therapeutic Recreation opportunities vary between provinces and location and scope of the employer as well. For example, at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health a Recreationist position can earn a salary ranging from $26.77 to $30.84 per hour [5]. Additionally, Work Chron reported that nursing care facilities are the biggest employers and pay and average annual salary of $37, 980 [6]. However, government employers offer up to $31.20 per hour with an average annual salary of $64, 900 per year.

[edit] Job outlook

Work Chron indicate that TR employment and demand is expected to increase over the next 5 years. For example, they state that between 2010 and 2020, TR opportunities will increase up to 17% [6]. The increase will be a result of aging baby boomers. Work Chron indicate that many baby boomers will require TRs because of age related conditions (e.g., increased strokes, a decrease in physical and mental capabilities)[6].

[edit] To know more

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Therapeutic Recreation Ontario. (2015). What TRO does. Retrieved from
  2. Seneca College. (2015). Bachelor of therapeutic recreation – therapeutic recreation degree. Retrieved from
  3. Brock University. (2015). Applied health sciences – Recreation and leisure studies. Retrieved from
  4. Pay Scale. (2015). Recreationist therapy salary – Canada. Retrieved from
  5. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2015). Recreationist. Retrieved from
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Locsin, A. (n.d.). Skills and knowledge needed for a Recreational Therapist. Retrieved from
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