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