WHAT IS Therapeutic Recreation?

Improving Health. Maximizing Well-Being.

Therapeutic recreation is a person-centered healthcare profession that employs evidence-informed leisure and recreation interventions to improve and maximize health, physical function, social and emotional well-being and overall quality of life. Therapeutic recreation practitioners focus on people’s interests and strengths and are dedicated to working collaboratively with individuals to assess and plan interventions that will help them reach their goals, increase their wellness, independence, level of social connection and involvement in community.

scope of practice

Recreation therapists use personalized, planned and purposeful recreation and leisure activities as interventions to:

  • Develop physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual skills
  • Facilitate practice of these skills in real life situations in the community
  • Facilitate and guide a positive appreciation of leisure experiences
  • Facilitate expression of positive emotions
  • Support an individual’s achievement of rehabilitation and health goals
  • Assist in the development of sustained and positive lifestyle changes through recreation activities
standards of practice

Recreation therapists follow standards of practice. BCTRA adopted the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association Standards of Practice in 2009:

  • Conduct client assessments
  • Develop individualized plans based on assessments
  • Facilitate leisure & recreation activities to achieve clients’ outcomes
  • Use a standardized system to document records of care
  • Collaborate with other disciplines to ensure integrated and coordinated services
  • Stay current in recreation therapy knowledge and practice
  • Apply current research to enhance recreation therapy practice
  • Follow moral principles of conduct ensuring client safety and rights are promoted
  • Demonstrate inclusion; treat all clients with equity and respect
  • Develop a risk management plan including ways to mitigate risk and document incidents
practice areas

Recreation therapists work with children, youth, adults and older adults in a variety of settings including:

  • Mental health and substance use services
  • Physical rehabilitation services
  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care homes
  • Assisted living and supportive housing
  • Adult day centres
  • Correctional facilities
  • Community programs
  • Private practices
  • Adapted and adventure programs
code of ethics

BCTRA has adopted the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association Code of Ethics. The following is a shortened, condensed version:

CTRA and BCTRA and their members endorse and practice the following ethical principles:

I. Professional Virtues
Act with integrity, protecting and promoting commitment to their service; honesty through complete, accurate and clear communications; fairness; and diligence to enhance their knowledge and skills through education.

II. Obligation to the Individual and Society
Committed to equal opportunity and balance in meeting the needs of individuals and society and to practicing privacy and confidentiality by practicing informed consent

III. Professional Practices
Strive to provide quality services based on the highest professional standards

IV. Responsibilities to Colleagues and the Profession
Practice mutual respect and work cooperatively for the benefit of those they serve; Professional and moral conduct in dealing with ethical issues; Continued quality management to improve ability to serve society