All posts by JamieS


By: Eleanor (Ellie) Bowman

The last semester of course work as a master’s student at Texas State University in the Therapeutic Recreation program was quickly approaching. This meant it was internship time. Before going into my journey through this process and the steps I took to search and find my internship placement, I want to briefly describe my undergraduate experience.

My undergraduate degree is in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences (from Texas A&M University). For this program we were required to find and actively participate in a 400-hour minimum internship at an approved location related to our degree.  Seems simple, right? With few requirements the search was on.  At this time, my focus was event planning. During my time as an undergrad I participated in two summer internships in event planning: one in New York City and the other in Los Angeles. I learned from those internships that getting the initial search started early pays off in the end.

Fast forward to my master’s degree. It is important to note that my experience will vary from many other students, but I do think the steps I took can be of some help.

Before starting my master’s program I did a little research on recreation therapy internships, just to see what it entailed. I started a short list of placements I thought would be ideal for me. My original list only included 2-3 options, so as my first semester started, I was eager to get moving on the internship process for real. Some of my fellow students thought I was “jumping the gun” too soon. However, as I researched more and more, I quickly learned that each internship site had different requirements, applications, and application dates. To me, this was even more motivation to get things going. Another thing I recommend to students is to attend as many professional conferences as possible. Not only will this will help with networking and building rapport with fellow professionals in the field, but it also expands your field-specific vocabulary, which will later help you during the interview process. I attended a conference the semester before my master’s program began and another during the first semester. I was able to make contacts not only for internships, but also developed a deeper knowledge about therapeutic recreation as a whole.

With that being said, by December of the first year of the program, I began my initial communication with the sites I was interested in. I started early for four reasons: (1) I planned to apply in-state (Texas) and out-of-state (California & Colorado); (2) to confirm that each site I was interested in still offered an internship; (3) to find out what the requirements were (CPR, First Aid, etc.); and (4) what the application process included (standard application, essay, short answer, etc.).

I received several emails back saying internships were no long offered due to regulations and program changes. For all the rest, I had to make sure the internships met both the NCTRC requirements and my school’s requirements. I also started to receive several questions regarding how my internship would differ from an undergraduate internship, as the requirement for CTRS is a bachelor’s degree. To my knowledge, the internships are the same (at least that has been my experience).

So by now, I had made initial communication with the sites I was interested in, though many told me I was “really early,” but they did send me information about applying and asked me to reach out to them in a few months. Remember, though, that many of your first-choice sites may not be close to home. You have to start thinking about where you might have to move temporarily, how much it would cost to live there, where you would live, and what type of transportation you would use.  Short-term leases for apartments are tricky to find and can be significantly more expensive that the standard monthly rent. It’s never really too early to start thinking about the specifics of how you will cover these extra costs.

Jumping forward, I began my email communication with the selected sites again, briefly touching on what we had previously discussed. To my surprise many sent me applications immediately after email communication. I took note that some sites do not send out applications until after an interview is completed. With these sites, I had to submit my resume and cover letter first (don’t forget to customize each resume and cover letter!). For others I learned that I needed to obtain my CPR and First Aid certification. I also took part in Suicide Triage Training and Gatekeeper training, becoming certified in both (each online course took about 8-10 hours). Something important to mention here is that during the spring semester of my first year in the master’s program, I became increasingly interested in focusing on mental health and psychiatric populations. This was the driving factor for both of the previous certifications. The following summer, I also participated in a low ropes program, becoming a certified facilitator.

Due dates for applications began to creep up, the earliest being due August 1st. Upon the spring semester ending, my focus for the summer was internship applications, internship applications, and more internship applications. I was determined to find a placement before the fall semester, which definitely paid off in the end. As I started working on the applications, I realized I had to truly dig deep in my reasoning for choosing this future profession. Many of the sites I was interested in had general application questions (name, school attending, and internship semester inquiring for) and essay type questions (personal definition of TR, why ‘this’ site, goals, and why TR). For students in the process of looking for internships, I will note that many require submission of letters of recommendation (anywhere from two to four) and official transcripts from all universities attended.  I wanted to stress this because requests for both letters and transcript take time. Don’t put this off!

Once my applications were complete, essay questions answered, and letters and transcripts requested, I was ready to submit the applications to the designated sites. Then came the waiting game. For someone who wants to know things right away, this was the hard for me. I did start to hear back from sites, though, and they wanted to set up interviews. I was filled with joy and excitement that things were moving along.

Phone and video interviews were the norm for me. I did not experience any in-person interviews, but if you are applying locally you might have the opportunity to interview in person. I was a little apprehensive about the phone/video interviews, feeling unprepared for questions to come. As the interviews started, I was asked to provide a brief background- okay easy I’ve got this, talk about what I have done, where I have gone to school, and what lead me to recreation therapy. Then came the more direct recreation therapy questions, like, “What modalities do you like best?” “What interventions do you prefer?” “How do you handle a group that is difficult and use assertive skills?” After the first few interviews, I began to feel more at ease and anticipated – to at least some degree – what questions I might be asked in subsequent interviews. The field-specific vocabulary that I learned at the conferences I attended became very helpful here.

Once interviewing was complete and internship offers were coming in, I was faced with having to make a decision on which placement to accept. Should you find yourself in this position, my advice is don’t underestimate how hard it is to juggle these choices. Remember that you have been submitting applications and interviewing on a rolling time frame. You may receive offers from one site before knowing the outcome of another site.  In that case, you’ll have to make decisions based on incomplete information. I was lucky enough to have several wonderful offers from my master list. If this should happen to you, my best advice is try and hold out for offers from your top two choices. I had to do this, declining several great placement offers in order to whittle it down the top two. My comparison list ended up being between option (1) a full time paid internship and option 2) a placement from my original list. I ended up accepting the offer from my original list, UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, and have never looked back. It is important not to think about “what ifs” in this situation.

I will be completing my internship by the first week of May. I plan to take the NCTRC exam the beginning of the second week of May and graduate from the masters’ program at the end of the second week of May. I hope my experiences will help students prepare for their internships and be open to what may come. My wish for all current interns: enjoy the remainder of your time at your placement!  And, best of luck to all those currently in the process of finding and becoming future interns!

Recreational Therapy Month

Recreational Therapy, a term I formerly chuckled at. Now, I implement it. Recreational Therapy, a profession that is questioned by so many. As a student myself, receiving a Master’s Degree in Recreational Therapy, I am asked daily, “So… what exactly do you do?” With a sigh followed by a deep breath, I try to detain my anger and answer the question.

But, how do I answer it? At the beginning of my educational career, I did what most people do, use Google. However, what you will find when ‘Googling’ Recreational Therapy, are various definitions – ranging from “a career that plays with children” to “working with people with disabilities”. However, if you are a profession in the field, you understand that it’s much more than that. This month, in honor of it being Recreational Therapy month, I wanted to highlight much more than what Recreational Therapy is. I wanted to discuss a more reflective question, “Why does Recreational Therapy matter?” I could do this in several ways. I could list reasons why the profession exists or I could suggest watching a video. Instead, you will get a sense of what Recreational Therapy is and why individuals are studying RT through the eyes, ears, and words of the students themselves. To supplement the students’ responses and experiences, I also had the opportunity to interview two seasoned professionals in the field. The responses vary from student to student and from each of the professionals. Thus, making it interesting to read, and just maybe with the help of you readers, we all can find a common definition and purpose of Recreational Therapy.

Within my interviews I asked questions such as ‘What does Recreational Therapy mean to you? How has it impacted your life? How has it impacted the life of others?” Each response is anonymous and each response is unique. Check it out below!

“For me, Recreation Therapy is an instrumental part of who I am. It’s how I connect with the world and how I make a difference in it. Recreational Therapy allows me to connect with a wide population of people at an individual level, which I find to be a key factor in promoting growth. This connection and growth spreads to those I serve, not only increasing their quality of life, but enhancing the lives of whom they share their life with as well.” – Student, ’17

“TR has completely shaped who I am today. I truly believe this is what I was born to do. I have had the privilege of not only practicing in the field for 17 years, but also sharing my experiences with RT students who are just as excited as I am about the positive impact RT has on a variety of people from all walks of life. Most of my experience is working with the elderly in long term care, a population I unexpectedly fell in love with after my student internship experience. Everyone has a story to tell. I love how RT helps residents with dementia tell that story and find a sense of peace despite the grief and feelings of isolation that comes with losing one’s memories. It is so important to be heard, and understood, no matter your age or ability. RT facilitates that voice through personalized interventions.” – Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist 

“Studying Therapeutic Recreation has made an impact on my life which in turn allows me to make an impact on others. Allowing people to focus on their abilities in a world that is so caught up in judging people on their differences is something that TR specialists really embrace. Volunteering in a community setting has allowed me to understand how much Therapeutic Recreation is needed and how creating simple programs can make a huge impact. Seeing the smiling faces as the bowling ball rolls down the lane and crashes down the pins then the laughter breaks is what Therapeutic Recreation is all about. – Student, ’16  

“Therapeutic Recreation means a lot to me because it has showed me a whole other side of the ‘therapy’ spectrum that I didn’t know existed in the medical and recreation field. For someone who wants to work in a retirement home or skilled nursing facility, the major and field I have entered into is extremely rewarding. Recreational Therapy has a lot to offer with a wide range of job opportunities. TR specialists are making a difference in the everyday life of people – whether it is an elder or even a teenager. That’s why this field means so much to me.

My personal story of falling in love with the field of Therapeutic Recreation begins when I was fifteen. I was a server in a dining room of a nearby independent-living retirement home. The CTRS coordinator of the facility was always so engaging with the residents. However, I also would see how sometimes the residents would be left in rooms and never taken anywhere off the campus of the retirement home. Ever since that day I researched anything and everything about this field and decided to pursue it my senior year of college. I am proud and excited to say that in May I will graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in this field. I firmly believe if I never received that first job at the retirement home, I don’t think I would have known what Recreational Therapy was. I’m beyond thankful I do know what it is and that I now have the tools and knowledge to share its definition and purpose with other students.”

Student, ’17 

“I was attending the University of New Hampshire pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management and Policy. I’ve always been passionate about recreation (any type of activity, sport, or game that you enjoy doing in your spare time) and it has always played a major role in my life. I took an Intro to Therapeutic Recreation elective course that changed my life and broadened my view on the world of recreation. This course helped paved the way for my future because it was in that class that I knew what I wanted to do for a career. After graduating, I furthered my education receiving my master’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation.

I currently work for the Springfield Parks & Recreation Department as a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist where I get the pleasure of creating and providing opportunities for individuals to be independent, creative, socialize, have fun and expressive. I enjoy helping people reach their goals, challenging their skills, being encouraging and supportive. I have met some amazing people and people who have truly touched my life. My life has been greatly impacted and forever changed by Recreational Therapy. I am more understanding, accommodating, patient, and accepting. This is one of the best gifts I could ask for.

One of my favorite memories was when I was working at a residential traumatic brain injury (TBI) facility. One of the participants I was working with was a young man who was in an accident causing TBI and loss of mobility in his legs. We were discussing his goals and he felt like because of his injury he couldn’t do anything. He lost a lot of interest in activities so I was determined to find something to bring some joy into his life. I found an adapted water ski program. When I brought up the idea to him, he immediately shut it down saying that he wouldn’t be able to do it. After discussing it more, I showed him some videos online and the look on his face was priceless. It was like he was introduced to a whole new world that he knew nothing about. He looked at me with a smile on his face saying “wow I could do that”. The day of the event was amazing and extremely fulfilling for not only him but me as well. When his turn came he got super nervous and almost backed out but with encouragement from me and the staff working there giving him confidence, he proceeded. I was on the back of the boat while they pulled him and he was ear to ear smiles the entire time. Then the boat went over a small wake and when he came down from the bump, the entire adaptation ski broke and he fell into the water. When he got on the boat, everyone was talking about how awesome it looked, how he caught air and how that’s never happened before. He continued talking about this experience for months and finally wanted to try new things. I was so thankful to have this experience with him. These types of experiences that create change and happiness are the experiences I live for. That is, Recreational Therapy.” – Recreational Therapist

“TR is powerful, and to me, it is all about providing individuals with the opportunity to explore parts of life that he or she may not have felt capable or comfortable doing before.

Last summer, I was an intern on a short-term behavioral health unit. The experience was amazing! Every day, I had the chance to interact and work with new patients to make a positive impact on their life. I was able to implement multiple therapies and activities throughout the day. Some days, clients would refuse to participate in activities with me, but other days, they were enjoying every minute of it. By the end of their stay,  the change in the patient was visible and it was clear how much they learned from our recreation program. Without our department, these patients might not have known about these specific outlets or techniques used.

I believe our field has the potential to grow, as long as there are still prospective students entering the field at all levels (bachelors, masters, and doctoral). As therapeutic recreation specialists, we have to continue to educate our coworkers, clientele, and members of society about TR and the benefits that we provide in order to keep the field flourishing. I also think that we need to create more research in order to help our field stay alive. Without providing evidence that we make a difference in our clients lives, our field will not be considered mandatory for individual’s care.” – Student, ‘17

I hope you have enjoyed reading the different perspectives that students and professionals bring to the field of Recreational Therapy. It’s important to never forget that we too, have a voice in Recreational Therapy. Make a difference and BE the difference.

Call for New Student Development Committee Members

The ATRA Student Development Committee (SDC) is a growing committee comprised of students and professionals who are tasked with encouraging student membership and engagement in ATRA (ATRA, 2017).  The committee has some exciting plans for 2018 and are looking for new members who are enthusiastic and dedicated in helping grow student membership and engagement in ATRA!

The SDC shares many great resources such as evidence based practice research articles, job and internship listings, network opportunities and much more!  Besides recruiting students to become and stay engaged in ATRA, the goal for this year is to plan and coordinate activities at the Annual Conference for students.  For example, the committee envisions NEW ways for students and professionals to meet and network about a variety of topics through unique and fun ways; speed mentoring anyone!?  We will also be hosting an internship social, and other networking opportunities.  Students are the future, and it is vital that we as a profession continue to engage and connect students with resources and other students, organizations and professionals and we need you!  If you are interested in joining, see below for a brief overview of the basic responsibilities/requirements.  Send an email to to join or obtain more information.


  1. Must be a current ATRA member (reduced rate for students!)  Take a look at reasons to join ATRA at
  2. Make at minimum two meaningful posts per month to the ATRA Students! Facebook page
  3. Submit one blog post to the ATRA webpage
  4. Serve on a conference sub-committee within the SDC
  5. Recruit more student followers/ATRA members.

Haven’t made up your mind yet?  Follow the ATRA Students Facebook page and check out what students and professionals from around the world are up too.

Exciting News from the Standards of Practice Committee

The SOP committee remains focused on making the standards applicable to all settings. Two main goals for the committee at this time are the development of an educator’s tool, and the recruitment of more committee members from various practice settings.

Educator’s Project: The SOP Committee recognizes the need to make it easier to include the standards of practice in RT curriculum. For more than six months, the Educator’s project has been the main focus of our efforts. Ultimately this will translate into practice, as more and more Recreational Therapists will become comfortable implementing the standards, therefore improving the quality of care provided to our clients/participants. In order to fully develop this tool, we need input from current and past educators. Join the SOP committee this September at the Annual ATRA conference in Orlando, Florida, and be a part of this important project.

Call to join the ATRA SOP Committee: The Standards of Practice Committee is seeking committee members from all practice areas. It is vital to the success of the committee, and the profession, that the needs of all Recreational Therapists are represented in this committee. We also encourage students to join the committee, as the best way to learn is to practice. Responsibilities would include attending/presenting at the annual ATRA conference, and eventually presenting at local and regional conferences. Support and education will be provided by committee members to increase your comfort in this role.


Update on Abigail Peterson’s Exciting Fieldwork Experience

Hi again- it’s Abigail Peterson from Oklahoma State University. I wrote a post back in March about the work I’ve done the past year in the Child Development Lab on my campus, and I implore to check it out before reading this one! Today, I’ll be giving an update on my research/time there and a reflection on my experience.

First I’ll start with an update on how things went in the Child Development Lab. This semester I got to really take charge of what I was doing in that I felt much more comfortable in my skills. I even made a craft button snake that I used multiple times with E (this child I worked with). Below is a list of the intervention activities I chose and the purpose that they served.

Intervention- Purpose

    1. Reading a book- Pincer grasp and wrist movement
    2. Button snake- Pincer grasp and forearm movement
    3. Kinetic sand (with upper body supported by foam wedge)- Whole hand grip
    4. Play-Doh- Finger and hand strength
    5. Animal puzzle- Wrapping thumb and grasping objects
    6. Foam tangrams- Grasping objects and whole arm movement
    7. Color-coordinated peg puzzle- Grasping small objects and hand strength
    8. Mr. Potato Head- Grasping small objects and hand strength
    9. Building blocks- Object grip and full arm movement
    10. Feed the Horse game- Object grip and full arm movement
    11. Interlocking building blocks- Grasping small objects and hand strength


Towards the end of the semester I began to summarize my observations for a research symposiums I was participating in. The biggest thing I noticed was that E improved in her bilateral thumb movement. Many of the interventions I used focused on grip strength and finger flexibility. E had a hard time flexing her thumb and would often grip things with just her four fingers. My focus was on her wrapping her thumb around objects. By the end of the semester, E was wrapping her thumb around small to medium shaped objects with minimal prompting from me. I also noticed that E had an easier time holding her head upright whereas she used to lean forward in order to complete an activity. Finally, I noticed that E had less difficulty reaching across her body with the opposite arm than she initially did. Overall, I observed that E improved her motor functioning especially her fine motor skills.

Had I been able to work with her further, I would have loved to work more on E’s gross motor functioning as a few sessions before the end of our time I had been shown some new exercises to try. I also would have worked more on helping E to keep her head up and work on her neck strength some more also. Given the time frame that I was able to work with E, however, I feel that things went very well and that the level of improvement was acceptable.

Overall, through this experience I was able to really get a feel for what recreational therapy is and see it in action. Getting to implement interventions with a child was one of the best learning experiences I could have been given. I implore everyone to search out and attempt to participate in experiences like these because the lessons I learned weren’t something that I could have learned through a textbook or lecture. This experience is something I’ll take with me into my career and truly grew my passion for the field of recreational therapy.

My Journey to Finding My Junior Internship

By Kaley Thornton

My experience with finding my junior internship was basically a rollercoaster. Every internship site is different in the way they hire their interns, but maybe my experience can help someone when they begin to look for their first internship. There is such a thing as looking too soon, and there are questions that should be asked before accepting an internship position. These are both things I learned the hard way.

I first began looking for an internship the fall semester of my Junior year. I was on the hunt for an internship for the summer of 2017. The first thing I did differently was look out of state, rather than in state, for a site. I’m a single mother, I have rent and babysitter fees to pay, so I knew I needed to find somewhere that pays and provides housing. I used the ATRA website to find hiring internship sites, and that’s where I found three various places in the Colorado Springs area. A few of which specifically said that they provide housing and pay.

I first tried calling the hospitals, but had no luck with getting a return call. I then decided to email the Recreational Therapists on these sites personally, attaching my resume, a cover letter, and a reference list. I simply explained where I go to school and that I’m considering my internship for the following summer. After about two weeks, I heard back from two out of three sites. Both sites told me that they did have openings, but that they would have to start a contract through my school. At this point, I sent the information to my intern advisor, and he began the paperwork and communication with the sites.

After about a month, my advisor and I did not hear back from either site. I then decided to email them again, but to no avail. Christmas break came and went, and I was nervous about my internship creeping up on me. When classes began for the spring semester, I reached out to both sites, and immediately heard back from one. Throughout the month of January, we got the contract started and were getting dates finalized for my internship site. There wasn’t any interview, and they didn’t call my references, but they said that I was accepted to their hospital as an intern. I was getting pretty excited, and felt it was a good time to ask how much I would be getting paid so I could plan accordingly.

This is when I got my first major dip in my rollercoaster ride. I was informed that there had been a miscommunication about whether the internship was paid or not. On the ATRA website, this specific internship opportunity did not specify “yes” or “no” on whether they have benefits, and I had just assumed that since the other Colorado sites said yes, that this specific one did too. At this point I had to thank them for accepting me as an intern, but that I had to respectfully decline due to personal reasons.

It’s now month two into the semester, and my fellow classmates are finding their new internship sites. I was beginning to panic a little bit, but still had hope of finding the right

internship for me. My classmates and I were given an opportunity to volunteer at the annual Oklahoma Recreational Therapy Organization. I took this opportunity to hand out my resume to potential supervisors and networked with as many people as I could. This was nerve wracking for me because I’m typically very introverted. I was given several praises for being prepared, but 80% of the time it was followed with “we already have our intern hired for this summer.”

I was starting to lose hope, but my intern advisor had a connection to a hospital nearby. This specific hospital was the same field that I’m interested in and is known for being hard to get into without a recommendation. The only dilemma was that this specific site is an hour drive from my home and doesn’t pay. I went ahead and emailed this site, letting them know I was looking for my internship and sent them my information.

As I waited for a response from this internship site, I then went back to the ATRA website and looked at all the internships available. I looked for quite a while before I found Bradford Woods. The website specifically said that there’s pay and housing, and when I read the description, I fell in love with their facility. I immediately emailed the site and gave them my credentials. Afterwards, I set up a meeting with my intern advisor to discuss everything that was going on.

During our meeting, he informed me of some concerns he had for me to go to a camp setting rather than a clinical setting. We discussed pros and cons and came to the conclusion that Bradford Woods would be a great place to go for Junior internship, since it was the spitting image of what kind of career I want after school.

Bradford Woods communicated with me very quickly and I had set up a Skype interview within a week. The interview lasted about an hour long, and we discussed what the camp offers for their campers, and what my role would be as an intern at their site. The more we discussed the opportunity, the more I fell in love with it. When the interview was over, I was told that they would get back to me on their decision.

While I waited to hear back from Bradford Woods, I then emailed the hospital in Oklahoma to let them know that I found a potential other site. They were very understanding and were glad I was keeping them in the loop, although I did take a little longer to respond than I would like to admit.

After a week from my interview, Bradford Woods had asked me for my internship manual so that they could determine if they would meet all the requirements for my education. I then sent them a copy of the manual as well as my intern advisor’s information. After another week of waiting to hear back from Bradford Woods, they emailed me with a letter asking me to join their facility. After accepting, they sent me a link to the paperwork that needed to be filled out by me.

The biggest things I had to do were fill out paperwork like I would at any job with my information on it, a TB test, and a physical. I already have my CPR and First Aid training, but since Bradford Woods is in a different state, I had to be sure that mine complied with their requirements. Soon after all of that was finished, I got an email from my intern advisor letting me know that the contract was already set up and complete.

Now that I have my internship set up and I’m ready to go, I have to send my intern advisor some paperwork over my health and proof of insurance. This was a very interesting journey to say the least, but I’ve learned that I just need to take it one step at a time, and I will get there.

Recreational Therapist Interviews

Hello all! My name is Taylor Gbur and I am pursuing my Masters in Leisure Studies with an emphasis in Recreational Therapy at Oklahoma State University. This blog is reported from the perspective of Recreational Therapists via interviews in person and through emails. I tried to talk to Recreational Therapists from a variety of settings and I asked all of them the same three questions:

  1. What advice do you have for students who want to work in your area of practice?
  2. What area of professional development would you recommend that students focus on?
  3. Is there anything you wish you would have known as a student?

If you do not want to read all the individual responses below, I found some common themes from the responses. They are:

  1. Be flexible and willing to work with all kinds of populations! Also, volunteer during your studies in the area you would like to work in the future to help get your foot in the door.
  2. Work on documentation skills and use of valid assessments, improve public speaking skills, participate in conferences and stay up to date with education, and have a variety of resources and activities in your tool box.
  3. Read, read, and read some more during school so you don’t have to play catch up later! If there are any certifications or extra degrees that you can pursue then do so to help advance your career. Finally, seek all opportunities and resources available to you and get INVOLVED because that experience is going to prepare you for your future career as a Recreational Therapist!

Sarah Sands, CTRS

Oklahoma City VA Health Care System

  1. Don’t be picky! Be open to working will all different ages and populations such as mental health to rehab to geriatrics.
  2. I would like to see students focus more on development of treatment goals, specific documentation, and note taking skills.
  3. I wish I could have had the choice between mental health or rehabilitation, but when I was in school those were not options. I would say to take all the opportunities that you can.


Cassie Tarin, CTRS

Behavioral Health in Enid, OK

  1. Have a very open mind and don’t take things too seriously.
  2. Your internship is going to prepare you with the most resources that you will use in practice. Collect as many resources as possible. Also, going to conferences allows you to learn more to add to your practice!
  3. I wish would have read and studied more while I was in school because I had to go back and read a lot. The Facilitating Techniques book by Austin (5th edition) helped me a lot.


Maggie Evans, CTRS

Children’s Therapeutic Specialist

Out & About is a community-based setting that offers Therapeutic Recreation programming for Adults and Kids with Developmental Disabilities.

  1. For students wanting to work in this setting, I would give advice that to successfully work or volunteer in a community-based setting individuals should take on the mindset of flexibility and being able to adapt to change. High energy, excitement, and support take our participants to the next level and really propel individuals to want to reach their full potential(s).
  2. Next, for this setting I think a huge part of professional development would be continuing education. Keeping up with conferences, CEU credit opportunities, and other opportunities professional organizations have to offer is important for any Therapeutic Recreation student continuing into the field, especially community-based, as there could be a lot of opportunity to partner with and further relationships with the community.
  3. Third, I wish I had more opportunities as a student to attend different conferences and get a bit more of a national-wide feel into the opportunities that TR presents. A larger scale view into things I was currently learning about would have been a great tie into work and practices I would be experiencing after graduation.


Kory Blair, CTRS

Director of Life Enrichment, Sabal Palms Children’s Center

  1. Get your foot in the door by working with your desired population; this could be through volunteering, internships, practicums, or work-experience. Special Education classrooms and Special Olympic programs are usually in constant need of volunteers. I would also suggest looking into training courses to become Certified Nursing Assistant or Personal Care Provider. Walking into a sub-acute setting can be overwhelming, tubes and IV poles, alarms constantly sounding, specialized equipment being used, and medical jargon abounds. It’s hard to feel comfortable in an environment when there are so many unknowns. I would also suggest students get experience working with typically developing children. It’s hard to know what goals to work on if you are on unaware of developmental milestones and the various stages of child development. Reading about it in a text book is one thing, putting the knowledge you learned into practical skills requires a different set of abilities. I would also stress the need to be open minded. Jobs working as a CTRS in a pediatric setting are few and far between. I believe the 2014 NCTRC Job Analysis report said less than 12% of CTRS worked with pediatrics and or adolescents. Volunteering with organizations is a great way to get your foot in the door and provides excellent experience.
  1. Child Development, Abnormal Psychology, and Motor Learning should all be keys areas of focus. Outside of the classroom knowing lots of different games, being up on the latest cartoons, and having a bit of sports trivia in your back pocket can help prepare you to work with a variety of ages and functioning abilities.
  2. I wish I had been more familiar with Child Life, looking back I would have tried to get dual certification, or at least would have taken a few Child Life classes as there is a lot of overlap with the professions especially when working in pediatrics.


Jeff Dick, CTRS

Community setting focusing on individuals with developmental and physical disabilities

  1. This may sound strange but one thing I’d strongly recommend is to know your TR service delivery models. As you look at different agencies and how they serve community members with disabilities, the service models can provide you with a guide for the delivery. They are a framework to ensure that you are staying true to the field and don’t take any “shortcuts” in the delivery of services. Another recommendation is to gain as much experience with as many populations as possible in as wide a variety of settings as possible. I use the many years I spent working in traditional, clinical settings frequently in delivery of community based programming. Finally, learn what resources are in your area that provide disability specific services and community education and take advantage of those agencies to create collaborations for the benefit of your mutual clientele.
  2. That’s a tough one. I’d suggest really, really immersing yourself in all TR specific areas of education and development available. Assessment skills and knowledge of available assessments and their use (nontraditional and formal), leadership, knowledge of anatomy and physiology, technical writing, public speaking…. all of these are essential at our agency.
  3. The only thing I can think of is to really put yourself out as much as possible regarding volunteer opportunities. Really taking advantage of each opportunity that comes up, regardless of whether you think you’ll ever need it or not (you will need it someday) and really immersing yourself in each experience. Looking for ways to implement those skills you’re learning and watching how others implement them as well.


Julianne Herrera MS, CTRS

In Patient Rehab & HBNF

Stroke & TBI Support Group
If you have questions about IRF, please contact:


IRF (in patient rehab facility) have a basic knowledge of the following:

  • Rehab terminology
  • FIM
  • IRF equipment/AD (assistive device) for instance RW, MSRW, PFRW, WC, Aux. Crutches, SPC, WBQC, etc.
  • Ortho/neuro/generalized debility precautions
  • Neuro VS ortho transfers & interventions

For Contract Services:

  • Calculate estimated expenses (gas, supplies, mal practice insurance, CUE etc.).
  • Set aside money for self-employment taxes.
  • Have a concrete grasp R/T time management.
  • Have a basic knowledge of variety Psychological & Physical Dx for pediatrics, adolescents, adults, & geriatrics.
  • Have a standardized bag of “tricks” to carry in your trunk.
  • EXTREME & RIGID book keeping R/T mileage, expenses/receipts, utilities, carmaintenance, etc.

2. Research R/T benefits of RT & a standardized RT assessment for IRF Px, licensure via NCTRC & state level, public speaking at conferences and para-professionals to educate what our field does VS OT, PT, ST, & Psyche.

3. Basic knowledge of the following: rehab terminology, equipment, ortho/neuro/generalized debility precautions, neuro VS ortho transfers & interventions.

Recreational Therapy Majors Club at Oklahoma State University

Hey my name is Matthew Tracy, and I am a student at Oklahoma State University (OSU)! I have gotten a great opportunity this semester to be a Recreational Therapy Majors club board member at OSU as the treasurer. When the board members and I took over the club this semester, we had goals to get the students more involved in the school, ATRA, community, and the club itself. We started to achieve these goals by attracting a large crowd for the first meeting by catering for Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.

We had guest speakers come and talk about the ATRA Student Development Committee (SDC) and how we can contribute to the annual ATRA conference in Orlando Florida this upcoming September. As the treasurer, it is part of my responsibility to keep track of our spending habits. Therefore, I am trying to save enough money so the club can pay for a few student’s trips to the ATRA conference. The appeal of free Florida trips has already caught people’s attention in becoming more involved in the club. This year has already proven to be successful and we plan on pushing the club forward in the future here at OSU.

Also for those involved or want to be involved with the SDC, don’t forget that there are many opportunities to make an impact at the annual conference this year! If you have any questions on how to get involved than email me at . I am running Trivia Night this year as well so if you would like to be on the task force with that, then just let me know!

Fitness groups

How many of you don’t feel like working out, but when you are done, you feel accomplished.

As a CTRS, I believe we are the ones that motivate patients to get up and be active, to develop a healthy life style. I conducted a survey to see what kind of activities patients are interested in; exercise was one of the results.

How can we create fitness programs? By attending a variety of classes like yoga, zumba, salsa, pilates, boot camp, walking club, line dancing, etc. How many times have we heard the sentence, if we don’t experience it, then we do not know how it feels?! By experimenting with a variety of classes we can see what works and what does not. This is what makes us a better therapist.

Going to fitness classes can help Recreational Therapy students reduce stress during school, and at the same time, it will increase their knowledge about creating programs. I wish I was aware of it during my school.

During a Therapeutic Recreation Program class, I was assigned to create a physical activity program. I looked up resources online, which is a good, however, as a professional, looking up resources in the community was much more helpful because this is what patients are looking for when they discharge, from the facility. If patients enjoy our program that we create, based on our experiences, hopefully this will give us more understanding about what types of community programs they will enjoy. Therefore, going to physical activities classes, looking for resources in the community, and finding ideas online could be the most beneficial combination to develop fitness groups.

Next time you attend a fitness class; try to put yourself in the patient’s shoes such as what did you feel? What was challenging for you? What would work better? What were possible ways to adapt the activity if you have a physical, cognitive, emotional, and/or social limitation?

Recreational therapists serve different populations. Thus, we should explore the resources we have in the facility, the patient’s goal, and their ability. Also, if it is a group setting, we cannot expect all of the patients to have the same ability. It is very important to inform patients, prior to session, that a CTRS can adapt the fitness classes to the patients’ ability. Give them the options of using a wheelchair, sitting in a chair, using the yoga mats, standing; Patients feel welcomed when a therapist believes in their abilities. Patients need our help to adapt their life to their new injury, mental status, and lifestyle, etc.

Therefore, prior to implementing a fitness session, therapists should practice the session on their own with different modifications. For example, in a case where we have high functioning patients, we are able to assign them a leadership role during a session; the patient could demonstrate some of the exercises. The goal of the high functioning patient may be social skills, and identifying 3 ways of increasing his social skills by helping others can increase his self-esteem.

For all the students, take a short break from school and work, and attend fitness classes to identify with our patients. Some of the classes are free. Let’s look for what resources are available in the community.

By: Dafna Yosef


All Schools Section Members,

We have an opportunity to make our voices be heard as CTRSs in the school systems.  The new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVoss, is requesting feedback regarding a new IDEA website.  See the link below to participate:

The government is seeking feedback on the IDEA’s new website. Please see:

They are interested in having the following questions answered (I have provided sample answers to help generate ideas of how you may want to respond):

1. What are the resources you use most often at

  • As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and a related service provider for individuals with special needs with IEPs, I use to find current information to support Therapeutic Recreation services being offered in school systems.  I most often encourage other educators, families, and students to search the related services sections of the IDEA legislation to discover that Therapeutic Recreation is a related service to which all students with special needs are entitled.

2. What additional information and/or functionality would you like to see included in the new IDEA site?

  • I would like to see a greater highlight, and as a result, advocacy for all the possible related services legally available to students with special needs in the school systems, especially Therapeutic Recreation as a related service.

3. Your title or role/designation (such as student, parent, educator, advocate, counselor, etc.), to help us gain a better understanding of who uses

  • Role:  IEP Related Service Provider, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), Recreational Therapist

Please take this opportunity to advocate for the supportive legislation and marketing of our profession’s role in the schools!

Thank you ☺

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Heidi Hunter or Tom House at