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Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

Help people grow through fun activities and games.

What does a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist do?

Therapeutic Recreation Specialists help people with mental or social disabilities learn to function through the use of different activities and games.

You have a lot of choice in how you practice as a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. You can work with a specific age group, like the elderly or teenagers, or you can work with a mix of clients. You can also work in a number of different offices, such as addiction rehab centers, hospitals, special education department of schools, adult day homes or the parks and recreation departments of cities, all of which employ Therapeutic Recreation Specialists.

No matter where you practice, your work always starts the same way: by assessing your patient’s disabilities and help making goals for their improvement. These goals can be physical or mental. You might try to improve the social skills of someone with a mental illness, teach someone with anger issues how to work with others, or teach stroke victims to write with their non-dominate hand. You use activities like games, arts and crafts, sports, field trips, and music or dance lessons to help clients reach their goals and become more comfortable living as independent adults.

While planning is a big part of your responsibilities it’s not the only one, observing and encouraging clients is another big part of this job. You keep a close eye on your clients while they take part in different activities to observe their reactions and progress. These observations help you figure out what works for each person and ways you can support them as they improve on their skills.

This can be a challenging profession, both physically and emotionally, but you will make huge impacts on the lives of many others, and substantially help people in their pursuit of a better life.