Kind Reader, if you are considering a career in recreational therapy, California is a great place to start. With its diverse population and stunning natural landscapes, California offers many opportunities for recreational therapists to help individuals with disabilities or illnesses improve their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being through leisure activities and meaningful occupations. Whether you are interested in working with children, adults, seniors, or specific populations, a recreational therapy degree from a California college or university can provide you with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to succeed in this rewarding profession.
What is Recreational Therapy?
Recreational therapy is a healthcare profession that utilizes activities, games, arts, crafts, and other forms of leisure to improve the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social functioning of individuals with illnesses or disabling conditions. It is a holistic and client-centered approach that aims to promote well-being, independence, and quality of life.
Scope of Recreational Therapy
Recreational therapy is employed in a wide range of settings, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, mental health clinics, schools, correctional facilities, community centers, and private practices. It is used to address various health issues, including but not limited to:
The Role of Recreational Therapists
Recreational therapists are trained professionals who hold a degree in recreational therapy or a related field and are licensed or certified in the state where they practice. They work collaboratively with other healthcare providers to create individualized treatment plans that incorporate recreational activities as a means of achieving therapeutic goals. These goals can relate to physical, emotional, cognitive, and social domains, such as:
- Improving motor skills and coordination
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Enhancing memory and cognition
- Encouraging social interaction and communication
Recreational therapists also evaluate and document clients’ progress, adjust treatment plans as needed, and provide education and support to clients and their families.
Recreational Therapy Degree Programs in California
California provides many opportunities to earn a recreational therapy degree. The state universities, community colleges, and private institutions throughout California offer degrees in recreational therapy with either a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree level.
Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Recreational Therapy
For those looking to earn an undergraduate degree in California, there are several options. Here are a few:
|No||University||Type of Degree|
|1||San Francisco State University||Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism|
|2||California State University, Chico||Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation Administration|
|3||California Polytechnic State University||Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation, Parks & Tourism Administration|
These bachelor’s degree programs are intended to provide a comprehensive understanding of recreation therapy. They will also teach the foundational values of the profession and create an understanding of the various ways recreation therapy can be used as a treatment modality.
Master’s Degree Programs in Recreational Therapy
Licenced recreation therapist who wishing to earn a higher degree level or individuals who are entering the field is having a master’s degree in recreational therapy is a common way to accomplish that objective. Here is a list of some of the Master’s Degree Programs in Recreational Therapy in California:
|No||University||Type of Degree|
|1||San Diego State University||Master of Science in Recreation Therapy|
|2||California State University, Long Beach||Master of Science Degree in Recreation & Leisure Studies: Option in Therapeutic Recreation|
|3||University of San Francisco||Master of Science in Nursing: Advanced Practice Nursing|
A master’s degree in recreational therapy not only provides knowledge in various areas of recreational therapy but also in assisting people with disabilities and reducing emotional and psychological distress.
|1||California State University, Northridge offers a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Tourism Management with an option in Recreation Therapy.|
|2||San Diego State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Therapy.|
|3||California State University, Sacramento offers a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Therapy.|
|4||Recreational Therapy professionals work to provide treatment and recreation services to individuals with disabilities or illnesses.|
|5||Graduates of recreational therapy programs are eligible to sit for the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.|
Types of Recreational Therapy Degrees in California
California has various types of degrees in recreational therapy that students can choose from. Available degrees include the bachelor of science in therapeutic recreation, the master of science in therapeutic recreation and a doctoral degree in recreational therapy. Each degree offers unique advantages to students and concentrates on various aspects related to recreational therapy.
Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation
Bachelor of Science (BS) in Therapeutic Recreation is a four-year undergraduate program which provides students with the core academic courses in recreational therapy as well as the practical skills in different clinical settings. Students will learn how to create recreational activities such as art, sports, and games that are essential to enhance wellness, improve physical, mental and emotional capabilities of people encountering disabilities or illnesses. Many universities in California offer a BS in recreational therapy, including California State University East Bay, California State University Sacramento, San Diego University and Sonoma State University.
Master of Science in Therapeutic Recreation
The Master of Science (MS) in Therapeutic Recreation is a postgraduate study, that provides students with advanced knowledge and skills to investigate, analyze and develop better therapeutic treatment plans and interventions for various disabilities or illnesses. Students will uncover insights into evidence-based practices, program planning and development, and leadership skills which enable them to take action effectively as either a director, supervisor, or academic staff. California State University, Chico, San Diego State University, and the University of San Francisco are among universities that offer a masterâ€™s degree in recreational therapy.
Doctoral Degree in Recreational Therapy
The doctoral degree (PhD) in recreational therapy provides students with an opportunity to undertake more extensive research in recreational therapy. Like most Ph.D. programs, the doctorate degree in recreational therapy is another postgraduate study that typically requires 4-6 years to complete. Those who graduate from this program can work as professors in academia as well as researchers to advance the field of recreational therapy. California State University East Bay and San Diego State University are two of the institutions that offer this degree program in California.
Recreational Therapy Bachelor Degree Programs
The Bachelor of Arts in Recreation, Leisure and Tourism requires a total of 126-132 credits, with 78 upper division units needed for graduation. The Bachelor in Science in Therapeutic Recreation prepares students for entry-level as Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.
California State University, Sacramento
The university developed Recreational Therapy as an academic field in 1981. California State University, Sacramento is committed to serving the local Northern California community with its excellent academic programs that prepare students for dynamically rewarding careers.
California State University, East Bay
The university’s mission is to enhance the intellectual, cultural, social, and economic vitality of the diverse East Bay, California region who can assume leadership roles in a global society. The Bachelor of Science in Recreation is available with an option in Therapeutic Recreation.
|No||Recreational Therapy Bachelor Degree Programs in California|
|1||California State University, Sacramento|
|2||California State University, East Bay|
Recreational Therapy Degree Requirements in California
A recreational therapist career requires a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field. Different universities in California offer a range of options to earn the required degree. Though elective courses may differ slightly, the core courses and experience requirements for a degree in recreational therapy are set by the Council on Accreditation for the program. Students are required to complete a certain number of practicum hours before graduating. The practicum serves as an informal hands-on experience, where students get to work under the supervision of licensed recreational therapists.
Course Requirements for Recreational Therapy Degree in California
The core courses for a degree in recreational therapy consist of courses related to recreation, psychology, anatomy and physiology, and kinesiology. These courses are necessary to provide insight on the role of recreation therapy in treatment and recovery. The following table shows core courses offered by San Francisco State University for a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism.
|1||Introduction to Recreation, Parks and Tourism|
|2||Survey of Leadership in Recreation and Tourism|
|3||Leisure and Human Behavior|
|4||Natural Resource Management|
Practicum Experience Requirements
Practicum hours are an important requirement for a degree in recreation therapy, and most practicums are completed in a healthcare setting under the supervision of licensed professionals. Practicums allow students to gain hands-on experience with patients with medical conditions requiring therapeutic care. Different universities in California have varying practicum hour requirements to graduate, but the Council on Accreditation requires students to get a minimum of 480 hours of practicum experience.
Career Opportunities with a Recreational Therapy Degree in California
California has the highest demand for recreational therapy services in the country, which means that graduates with a recreational therapy degree California can expect many career opportunities in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, mental health institutions, long-term care facilities, and community agencies. Recreational therapists are responsible for creating and implementing treatment plans that incorporate activities such as sports, games, arts and crafts, dance, drama, and music. They work with individuals who have physical, mental, emotional, or developmental disabilities.
Graduates with a recreational therapy degree California can work under different job titles, such as:
|5||Therapeutic Recreation Specialist|
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for recreational therapists in California was $64,380 in May 2020, which is higher than the national median of $52,920. The job outlook for recreational therapists in California is also positive, with an expected growth rate of 18.2% from 2018 to 2028.
The following are some of the settings where recreational therapists with a degree from California can find employment:
|3||Mental Health Institutions|
|4||Long-Term Care Facilities|
Recreational therapists in California can work in specialized fields, such as aquatic therapy, gerontology, prosthetics, and more. They can also work in schools, correctional facilities, and military hospitals. Many recreational therapists choose to pursue advanced degrees and specializations, to expand their career opportunities and enhance their knowledge and skills.
Jobs with a Recreational Therapy Degree in California
California boasts a wide range of job opportunities for recreational therapists. With the state’s renowned healthcare system, graduates with a recreational therapy degree in California can choose to work in various settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, community mental health clinics, schools, and wellness centers. Recreational therapists can also work in nursing homes, correctional facilities, parks and recreation departments, and other institutions that are committed to enhancing the health and well-being of patients or clients through leisure activities.
1. Hospitals and Rehabilitation Centers
Recreational therapy is a vital component of a patient’s recovery in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Recreational therapists create treatment plans that meet the individual needs of each patient and use different techniques such as arts and crafts, music, and exercise to promote wellness, develop their social skills, encourage self-confidence, and reduce anxiety.
|No||Hospital and Rehabilitation Centers in California|
|1||UCSF Medical Center – San Francisco|
|2||Stanford Health Care – Stanford|
|3||Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford – Palo Alto|
2. Community Mental Health Clinics
Recreational therapists help individuals with mental illness or emotional challenges by using recreational activities as a form of therapy in a community mental health clinic setting. Recreational therapy interventions can help reduce anxiety and depression and provide an opportunity for individuals to regain a sense of mastery, control, and self-esteem.
|No||Community Mental Health Clinics in California|
|1||Momentum for Mental Health – San Jose|
|2||AltaMed Health Services – Los Angeles|
|3||Telecare Corporation – Oakland|
Recreational Therapy Degree California FAQ
Welcome to the FAQ page for the recreational therapy degree in California. Here, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions and concerns about pursuing a degree in recreational therapy in the state of California. If you have a question that isn’t answered below, feel free to reach out to us for more information.
1. What is recreational therapy?
Recreational therapy is a type of therapy that uses recreational activities and leisure pursuits to help individuals with disabilities or illnesses improve their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
2. What is a recreational therapy degree?
A recreational therapy degree is an undergraduate or graduate degree program that prepares individuals for a career as a certified recreational therapist.
3. What schools in California offer recreational therapy degrees?
Some schools in California that offer recreational therapy degrees include California State University, Chico, San Diego State University, California State University, Sacramento, and the University of San Francisco.
4. What are the admission requirements for a recreational therapy degree program?
The admission requirements for a recreational therapy degree program vary depending on the school, but typically include a high school diploma or GED, a minimum GPA, SAT or ACT scores, and letters of recommendation.
5. What courses are required for a recreational therapy degree?
Courses required for a recreational therapy degree may include human anatomy and physiology, principles of therapeutic recreation, intervention techniques, assessment and evaluation, and professional ethics.
6. Are there any certification requirements for recreational therapists in California?
Yes, recreational therapists in California must be certified by the California Board of Recreation and Parks and must have at least a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field.
7. How long does it take to complete a recreational therapy degree program?
The length of time it takes to complete a recreational therapy degree program varies depending on the level of degree pursued. A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete, while a master’s degree may take two to three years.
8. What kind of jobs can I get with a recreational therapy degree?
With a recreational therapy degree, you can work as a recreational therapist in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, mental health clinics, and community centers.
9. How much can I expect to earn as a recreational therapist in California?
The salary for recreational therapists in California varies depending on the location and type of employer, but on average, they make between $50,000 and $60,000 per year.
10. Can I pursue a recreational therapy degree online?
Yes, there are several schools in California that offer online recreational therapy degree programs.
11. Is financial aid available for recreational therapy degree programs?
Yes, financial aid, such as scholarships, grants, and loans, is available for students pursuing a recreational therapy degree.
12. What kind of accreditation should I look for in a recreational therapy degree program?
You should look for a recreational therapy degree program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
13. Can I work as a recreational therapist without a degree?
No, a recreational therapy degree is required to become a certified recreational therapist in California.
14. How competitive is the job market for recreational therapists in California?
The job market for recreational therapists in California is competitive, but there are still opportunities available in the field.
15. What kind of skills do I need to be successful as a recreational therapist?
Skills needed to be successful as a recreational therapist include excellent communication and interpersonal skills, creativity, patience, and strong organizational skills.
16. Do I need to complete an internship as part of a recreational therapy degree program?
Yes, most recreational therapy degree programs require students to complete an internship or field experience as part of their degree requirements.
17. Can I specialize in a specific type of recreational therapy?
Yes, many recreational therapists specialize in a specific area, such as art therapy, music therapy, or sports therapy.
18. Are there any continuing education requirements for recreational therapists?
Yes, recreational therapists are required to complete continuing education courses to maintain their certification.
19. What kind of organizations can I join as a recreational therapist in California?
There are several professional organizations for recreational therapists in California, including the California Therapeutic Recreation Society and the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.
20. Do I need to be physically fit to be a recreational therapist?
While it is important for recreational therapists to have a basic level of physical fitness, it is not typically a job requirement.
21. What kind of working hours can I expect as a recreational therapist?
The working hours for recreational therapists can vary depending on the employer and the setting, but it may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.
22. Can I work with both children and adults as a recreational therapist?
Yes, most recreational therapists work with both children and adults with disabilities or illnesses.
23. Is there room for advancement in the field of recreational therapy?
Yes, there are opportunities for advancement in the field of recreational therapy, such as becoming a supervisor or manager.
24. What kind of liability insurance do I need as a recreational therapist?
Recreational therapists should carry liability insurance to protect themselves and their clients from any potential risks associated with recreational activities.
25. What should I do if I have concerns about a recreational therapy program or practitioner?
If you have concerns about a recreational therapy program or practitioner, you should report it to the California Board of Recreation and Parks.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in recreational therapy and live in California, you might want to look into earning a recreational therapy degree in California.
Keep Exploring with a Recreational Therapy Degree in California
Kind Reader, thank you for taking the time to read about recreational therapy degrees in California. We hope you found this article informative and interesting as you consider your future career path. Remember, there are many rewarding opportunities to make a positive impact on people’s lives through recreational therapy. We encourage you to continue exploring this field, and to visit us again soon for more useful and engaging articles. Until then, all the best to you!