Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists, also known as therapeutic recreation specialists, coordinate recreation programs and other activities for people with injuries or disabilities. They set up a variety of programs, whether it be sporting, artistic, or other group activities, to improve the overall physical and emotional help of their clients. They design programs to help the people they work with alleviate depression, anxiety, and improve their basic motor and reasoning skills, so they can live their lives with greater independence. They also show their clients how they can better utilize community services and participate in community recreation programs. Unlike recreation workers who coordinate programs for fun, recreational therapists set up programs to improve their clients' quality of life.

Recreational therapists working at health care facilities work closely with doctors and other health care specialists while assisting their clients deal with specific problems. Therapists at health care facilities that provide extended care usually organize recreation programs for groups and help patients suffering from debilitating health problems.

To diagnose patients' problems, recreational therapists interview and observe their clients, as well as administer tests and review medical files. After determining how to assist their clients, therapists coordinate and supervise programs to best assist them. For their shy clients or those with social problems, recreation therapists may set up programs that require them to interact with others. Recreational therapists teach their clients how to stretch prior to an athletic event, proper sporting techniques, how to work in groups, and how to pace themselves during a sporting activity. During an event, therapists keep records documenting a client's activities and rehabilitative progress.

Recreational therapists specializing in community services can be employed by school districts, municipal recreation programs, rehabilitation facilities, or convalescent centers. These therapists help their disabled or injured clients live independently and set up recreation programs for their personal enjoyment. Therapists working for school districts spend their time working with students in special education. One of their primary goals is to teach students how to be independent adults.

Work environment. Recreational therapists conduct their work in offices and areas where recreational events are held. Therapists are often required to travel to different locations within a city, such as bus stations, recreation centers, and other community buildings, when showing their clients how to utilize community services. They often carry heavy equipment. Most therapists work 40 hour weeks, occasionally working nights and weekends.

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