Therapeutic Recreation/Recreational Therapy  Interviews


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dotWhat to Expect

In a therapeutic recreation program, students take courses from many different academic disciplines. Expect to spend a lot of time around people who may be very different.

Michelle Carroll took a two-year program in therapeutic recreation. She took courses in psychology, sociology, communications, general recreation and therapeutic recreation.

Bianca Brdaric is a graduate of the therapeutic recreation program at Lock Haven University. Her coursework varied just as much. It included courses in pharmacology and kinesiology. She also studied criminal justice issues.

"You need a basic knowledge of all that to conduct your job as a therapist," she says.

Of course, you will also need to know a lot about the people you may end up treating. That's why students are expected to spend a lot of time with different populations through summer internships and volunteering after class.

Carroll, for instance, volunteered 640 hours over two years.

Brdaric also volunteered a fair amount of time. She worked with people of all ages with all sorts of disabilities: autism, muscular dystrophy, dementia and alcoholism.

She says she was a little bit nervous the first time she started volunteering. She says it was a really different experience because she had never been exposed to people with disabilities. Still, she says, her classes made her feel prepared.

"But there are certain things you can't really know until you get out in the field," says Carroll.

Like sudden changes in the behavior of patients. If you're not comfortable with unpredictability, this may not be the field for you.

This field requires a great amount of individual creativity. For one class, Carroll had to draw up weekly treatment plans. The assignments laid out the needs of a group or a person. Carroll had to come up with a recreational plan that would meet the treatment goals.

You must also be comfortable around other students. Carroll says 85 percent of her therapeutic-specific assignments were group assignments.

"The basis around therapeutic recreation is being able to work as a team member because you are working with other professionals in the hospital," says Carroll.