American Therapeutic Recreation Association

Welcome to ATRA

About ATRA


The Board of Directors has adopted several statements that guide the operation of ATRA.


Vision Statement

We envision a world where all people have access to Recreational Therapy.

Revised by ATRA Board of Directors | May 2015

Mission Statement

We empower Recreational Therapists

Revised by ATRA Board of Directors | May 2015

Definition Statement

Recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being. 

Revised by ATRA Board of Directors | May 2015

Statement of Meaning

(Supplemental description for use as needed) “Recreational Therapy means a treatment service designed to restore, remediate, and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities, to promote health and wellness as reduce or eliminate the activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by an illness or disabling condition” (ATRA, 2009). 

Adopted by ATRA Board of Directors | May 2015

ATRA endorses the following:

  • Therapeutic Recreation is the field
  • Recreational Therapy is the practice
  • Recreational Therapists are the practitioners
  • The CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) is the qualified provider

Adopted by ATRA Board of Directors | May 2015


ATRA’s Guiding Principles are:

We Believe…

  1. Recreational Therapy is a process provided in diverse settings.
  2. Assessment, Planning, Intervention, Evaluation, and Documentation (APIED) are the foundation of Recreational Therapy.
  3. In Evidence Based Practice, Professional Credentialing, and Accreditation.
  4. In building powerful relationship to strengthen Recreational Therapy.
  5. In mentoring and developing professionals.  

Adopted by ATRA Board of Directors | May 2015


Statement on Diversity

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) has an ongoing commitment to advancing diversity within the field of recreational therapy. We acknowledge that diversity includes any aspect of an individual that makes him or her unique. Our association values and actively promotes diverse and inclusive participation by its leaders, members and affiliates.

Further, the association works to educate its membership about diversity issues, and to foster an environment that acknowledges the contributions of all its members. We value the role that diversity plays in every aspect of service delivery, recognizing that diversity is vital to all elements of recreational therapy practice and education.

Revised by ATRA Board of Directors | September 2011

Position Statement on the ICF

The concepts and terminology of the ICF are compatible with recreational therapy practice. ATRA supports, the use of ICF language and terminology in recreational therapy practice guidelines, standards of practice, curriculum development, public policy, international relations, and research. ATRA also acknowledges the significance of the use of the ICF classification and coding system as a vehicle to clarify and enhance practice and research in recreational therapy.

Approved by ATRA Board of Directors | October 2005

ATRA Code of Ethics

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association's Code of Ethics is to be used as a guide for promoting and maintaining the highest standards of ethical behavior. The Code applies to all Recreational Therapy personnel. The term Recreational Therapy personnel includes Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS), recreational therapy assistants and recreational therapy students. Acceptance of membership in the American Therapeutic Recreation Association commits a member to adherence to these principles... Complete Code

Revised by ATRA Board of Directors | July 2009

To learn more about the ATRA Code of Ethics, take advantage of the following webinar: Replay 2009 Session E2: Code of Ethics Update.