Therapeutic Recreation Symposium for the Southwest (TRSSW)

I had the pleasure of attending the TRSSW this year, and learning about new and exciting things in the field. This organization is smaller, and if you have not heard of them, check them out because they do offer scholarships to students, in the southwest region.

I know the semester is coming to a close and for some this could mean heading into internship, for others this means getting closer to start looking into internships. Check back next month for tips on locating and interviewing for internships.

Entry Level Into Therapeutic Recreation

Moving towards a Master’s degree as entry level into the therapeutic recreation profession is one of the hot topics in the field. Some professionals argue that students should immediately continue their education after undergrad. There are some pros and cons with this route, in my opinion. Some can argue that the young professionals receiving their masters right after undergrad may not have as much experience. Then maybe we can help this viewpoint by having more internship requirements.

In my experience, some of my peers have stated they want field experience before going back to school. Field experience is a great learning tool, especially in the Therapeutic Recreation profession, because there is no cookie cutter way of doing things. So why is it that some professions allow their professionals to work, and gain field experience, and go to school, such as online learning? The convenience of online learning flows with our busy lifestyle in today’s society. Wouldn’t it be nice to have more online masters programs for the Therapeutic Recreation profession, like Indiana University offers? In my opinion yes it would be, and it could lead to more professionals, in the field, gaining their masters.

There is the opposing viewpoint as well for masters as the entry level. Some include “Advanced degrees may exacerbate the shortage of health care workers.” (Beck) There would be more respect placed on the degree than the profession itself. There are also challenges when starting a master’s program such as; “appropriate faculty to teach at the level, support from universities, and financial concerns.” (Beck)

This current issue can be argued both ways, but I believe if we want to be a respected therapy service, we should consider having a master’s as an entry level. I am attaching a wonderful presentation from Teresa M. Beck PhD, CTRS outlining the issue. Should We Stay or Should We Go- Masters Degree as Entry Level into Therapeutic Recreation

“Should We Stay or Should We Go: Masters Degree as Entry Level into Therapeutic Recreation”

Teresa M. Beck PhD, CTRS

Call for Webinars on Evidence Based Practices in the Schools


Hey team,

We are looking for volunteers to share what you have been doing in the schools.  The ATRA webinar series is a great way to do this and to get CEUs!  Last summer, we had our first webinar series for RT in the Schools, and it was a huge success.  This summer we want to focus on the evidence-based practices we are successfully using with students in the school systems (i.e. experiential education, adventure-based programming, horticulture therapy, social skills training, anti-bullying, behavior modification, etc.).

The deadline to submit proposals is the end of this month.  Here is the link:  Link to the Call for Papers.  Deadline for submissions for the Call for Webinars is Monday October 31, 2016. Webinars will be scheduled throughout 2017. Please contact Pam Fleck, ATRA Academy Coordinator with any questions. We look forward to your submissions!

Again, this is a great opportunity to get involved and help RT in the Schools grow.  Thank you for your participation and support!


Please share on our ATRA blog, or contact Heidi Hunter ( or Tom House ( with any suggestions!

Older Adults Section Update

Now that ATRA’s annual conference is in our rearview mirror, it’s time to move forward with work on the goals that we have for RT with older adults this year.  We would like to thank Courtney and Angie for their hard work the past few years as section leads.

Laura E. Kelly, MS, CTRS and I have been voted into the vacant co-section chair positions.  We look forward to working with you and supporting to bring recreational therapy to all older adults.
We were very happy with the turnout at the annual conference this year and look forward to an even larger turn out in Orlando 2017. Laura, Claire and I want to thank those of you who came and spoke to us at the conference and expressed interest in being more active with older adults. We want to provide all section members the opportunity to be a part of fast moving world of older adults in ATRA. To do this we have put together a survey (7 questions) we would like to have all of you answer.
We want to bring you more opportunities to learn, grow, and market recreational therapy for older adults. There is a need and hunger for our services on multiple levels from the community and practitioners. Working as a group we can provide our older adults with the quality of life we all wish for them and also expand services to as many people as possible.
With regard to our section leadership, we are in need of the following:
1.    Older Adult Public Policy Leader/Committee (help with the communication between our section and the ATRA public policy team)
2.    Older Adult Research Committee Leader/Committee (help with the communication between our section and the ATRA research committee)
3.    Someone (or a couple) interested in writing an ATRA newsletter article on a topic (innovative, new, or evidence based)
4.    Open Mic night Leader: (help with setting up educational based – teleconferences for the section)
Please let myself or Laura know if you are interested. We will be here to support you throughout the process.I would like to share our PowerPoint presentation from the conference, and handouts that go along with the ppt, which includes the current needs and trends that are related to our section.
*    Best Practices Example: More than Child’s Play: Doll/Stuffed Animal Therapy
*    The Montreal Cognitive Assessment MoCA is a brief cognitive screening tool for Mild Cognitive Impairment
*    Literature: Decreasing Patient Agitation Using Individualized Therapeutic Activities
*    Best Practices Example: Individualized Music
*    Music: The Positive Effects of Music on Dementia & Alzheimer’s Patients
*    Talking Points from CTRS to Administration
*    Physician Order for Recreation Therapy Services Request (Referral for CTRS Intervention 2)
As highlighted in the ppt, the most current needs/trends related to our section are:
*    Communication template for CTRS use across multiple settings
*    Protocols for disturbing behaviors
*    Student development outreach efforts within the Older Adult Section
*    Update on the creation of a Practice- Based model for RT vs Activity Services within SNF/AL settings
Melissa Long, CTRS, DPG

Best Conferences to Market RT in the Schools

Hey all,

I received a message from NCTRC regarding conferences that would be best to attend for the marketing of CTRSs in school systems.  I am reaching out to all of you for help with this.  Please share any conferences that you know of that would be beneficial for those of us in the schools to attend and market our profession.  Obviously it would be ideal if we can find a national level conference so that we may be able to reach out to a larger audience.

NCTRC is planning on sending at least one representative to a conference to advocate and market CTRSs in the schools.  This is a great opportunity to get ourselves out there and advertise the benefits of RT in the schools.

Please share on our ATRA blog, or contact Heidi Hunter ( or Tom House ( with any suggestions!

ATRA Annual Conference Review

Now that ATRA’s annual conference is in our rearview mirror, it’s time to move forward with work on the goals that we have for RT in the schools this year.  In the schools, we may still be few in number, but we are by far the setting of greatest interest and potential growth.  I also know that each of us that are already in the schools treasure and value the special opportunity we have, and tend to be very passionate about keeping our positions in the schools.  With that said, we continue to encourage all of you to be inspired to volunteer and help out with the continuing development of RT in the schools across our country.

With regard to our section leadership, we are in need of the following:

1. Section Chair/Co-Chair (more information included in the conference ppt presentation)

2. Public Policy Leader/Committee (help with the communication between our section and the ATRA public policy team)—Kristen Fedesco has volunteered for this (Thank you Kristen!), but additional help is welcome

3. Research Committee Leader/Committee (help with the communication between our section and the ATRA research committee)

Please contact Heidi Hunter ( or Tom House ( if interested in helping out!



ATRA Annual was a great success, filled with exciting topics and even Bandaroke (karaoke with a live band…it is a game changer). Congratulations to Georgia Southern University for winning the group round trivia and placing first and second in the individual round trivia!

I know many students had the opportunity to go and experience a great conference. A key takeaway from the conference this year was involvement and membership in ATRA. As a student it is so beneficial to be a member of a great organization that promotes the profession so well. Take this time as a student to join ATRA, not only because the membership is cheaper, but also it is a great first step to getting involved in the profession and networking with other individuals. As a side note my favorite presentation, I went to, was Meditative Art and I tried it with my patients the day I got back, here is our work.

IMPACT act of 2014: Public Comment Period Extended

Public Comment: Collection of Standardized Assessment-Based Data Items

CMS is soliciting for public comment on a collection of standardized assessment-based data items developed under the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act) to meet the domains of: cognitive function and mental status; special services, treatments, and interventions; medical conditions and co-morbidities; and impairments. Standardized assessment-based data items were developed for the Long-Term Care Hospital, the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, the Skilled Nursing Facility, and the Home Health Agency settings. CMS is seeking public comment on the whether items have the potential for improving quality, the utility of the items for describing case mix, the feasibility of the items for use in post-acute care settings, and the validity of the items. This call for public comment is open from August 12th through September 12th , 2016. For more information, visit the Public Comment webpage.

Job Internship Social!

As the School Network Section, we want to post some upcoming information and events for those interested in RT’s in schools.  First, the ATRA annual conference is coming up September 10-13, 2016 in Chicago, IL.  “Sailing to Greatness” is the theme for this year conference.  This is a great time and opportunity for RT’s to get together to share ideas, network with each other and share experiences throughout the past year and upcoming RT events in the New Year.  Also, the program is full of new presentations with great presenters from all over the country.  Check out the ATRA website for more information about the conference agenda and events.  Continue reading Job Internship Social!

Open Mic Conference Call!

The Child & Adolescent section will be hosting an open mic conference call for members on August 25th at 8:00pm EST. This call is open to all members to network with others working with children & adolescents. Students are welcome!! Members may also email in specific requests for topic suggestions! If interested in bringing up an issue, suggesting a topic, or providing a 3-5 minute blurb on the call about what you do, contact Abby Pestak and Kaylee McGuire at