There are four different recreation therapist jobs: working in a private home, working for a health care services firm, teaching, and working for a government agency. A recreation therapist works with clients who have physical or mental disabilities or have experienced a serious illness or debilitating stroke. The purpose of recreation therapy is to resolve the issues that are reducing the client’s ability to participate in leisure activities, so that clients are able to maintain an appropriate level of social interaction and participation in the community. Humans are social animals, and independent, meaningful social interaction is a fundamental requirement for good mental health and well-being.
In order to qualify for recreation therapist jobs, you will need to complete a post-secondary training program from a university or community or career college. At the college level, this program is two to three years in length, and at least four years at the university level. Most programs require candidates to have at least five years' experience working full time before considering them for admission. A certain level of personal maturity and patience is required to perform effectively in this role.
Many recreation therapists work directly with clients in their own homes. Referrals can be made through volunteer agencies, support groups, health services firms, or social workers. A schedule of visits is agreed upon, along with the list of recreation therapy-related tasks that will be performed on each visit. This service is covered by most health insurance plans, as it is considerably cheaper than a stay in a hospital or long-term care facility.
There are a broad range of recreation therapist jobs available in a health care services firm. These private organizations offer a wide range of therapies and support services to clients. The patient or his family can arrange for this service to provide a recreation therapist two days a week, a physical therapist once a week and a massage therapist every two weeks. The recreation therapist works with the other members of the health services team to make sure the client is progressing ad receiving the level of care required.
Recreation therapists can become instructors at local community centers, teaching courses to family members on how to engage an elderly family member in a recreational activity or work with a disabled child who is not participating in community events. In order to become an instructor, many professionals complete a certificate program in adult education. Learning the most effective way to teach adults can be a huge help when making this career transition.
Many social services related government agencies also have recreation therapist jobs. In these jobs, the therapist works directly with the social worker and other members of the health services team to meet the client's needs. Many governments have adopted a "prevention" method of social services, where they are willing to invest additional resources in hopes of reducing the total support costs over the long term.