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Best Recreational Therapist Courses in Canada

October 2, 2023

For years since you got a career that piqued your interest, you may have envisioned yourself as one of the health care professionals who are enriching the quality of life of their patients through their services. But after graduating from high school, you might feel overwhelmed with the many options you have in post-secondary institutions that offer a recreation therapy program.

In this article, we listed down the best educational institutions that offer recreational therapist courses in Canada and explain what made them great, to help you make informed decisions when applying for your dream health care profession. We also enumerated some ways to effectively advance your career in therapeutic recreation and maintain your professional practice up to par with professional standards.

A recreational therapist and her patient during a therapy session.

University and Colleges Offering Recreational Therapist Courses in Canada

In Canada, there are a wide variety of educational institutions that offer programs that educate their students on the role of healthy leisure and recreation as a therapeutic tool to improve the quality of life of their patients, such as in improving mental health conditions and contributing to addiction therapy.

To help you know which of these recreation therapy programs would best equip you with the practical skills needed to excel in providing therapeutic recreation interventions without sacrificing cost-effectiveness and accessibility, we provided the difference and the pros and cons of getting a diploma or a degree in recreational therapy and where best to get one.  

Diploma or a Degree in Therapeutic Recreation: Which Should You Choose?

While the completion of coursework for a diploma or a degree can both enable an individual to provide therapeutic recreation services, the similarities end there, as they will eventually diverge into different career trajectories. Specific differences between a diploma and a degree in therapeutic recreation include the length of time to complete the educational path, the level of education, and the scope of knowledge and skills acquired.

A diploma in therapeutic recreation is perfect for people who would want to immediately enter the profession. This is because a diploma can be obtained in a shorter duration than a degree, typically finished within two years, with a focus on the more practical aspects of the profession such as assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of therapeutic programs for individuals with disabilities or illnesses. Diploma holders can work as recreation assistants under the supervision of a certified therapeutic recreation specialist.

On the other hand, a degree in therapeutic recreation is a better option for people seeking deeper expertise and opportunity for career advancements. Graduates with a degree can work as certified therapeutic recreation specialists who are responsible for designing, implementing, and evaluating therapeutic programs for individuals with disabilities or illnesses. Degree programs provide a more in-depth education in therapeutic recreation, covering topics such as human anatomy and physiology, psychology, and research methods.

The table below summarizes the differences between the two:

A table summarizing the differences between a diploma and a degree in therapeutic recreation.

Top 5 Educational Institutions in Canada with Programs Focusing on Recreation and Leisure

The Times Higher Education (THE) World Rankings is a reputable and widely recognized ranking system, which provides an annual ranking of all the universities worldwide based on different criteria set by the said organization, which include an educational institution's teaching quality.

Using the THE World Rankings (overall rank) as basis, we round up the top 5 best educational institutions in Canada that offer recreational therapy programs to provide insights into the overall reputation and academic excellence of universities offering therapeutic recreation programs., thereby helping you choose which one to apply for and study in.

Alternatively, you may also check out all the educational institutions per province that offer a diploma or a degree in therapeutic recreation through this list provided by the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association (CTRA).

What Should You Do Next After Getting Your Degree in Therapeutic Recreation?

After getting a degree in therapeutic recreation, it's the responsibility of the student to do basic research on what they could do before or during their professional practice of recreational therapy in a variety of settings. The following are some ways you can be competitive as one of the graduates of this program and advance your career in this field:

Pursue a Therapeutic Recreation Certification

Currently, the professional practice of therapeutic recreation or recreational therapy isn't yet regulated in Canada. However, graduates of this program may opt to pursue a certification relevant to the field, as a mark of their commitment to upholding the standards of the profession. They may apply for certification or accreditation provided by the following professional associations:

Attend Recreation Therapy Programs and Courses

Attending recreation therapy programs and courses is important for practitioners as it's often required for them to meet a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain their credentials and certifications relevant to this healthcare field. It may also help a recreational therapist enrich their knowledge and skills in the field by teaching them up-to-date interventions necessary for the therapeutic recreation process.

Luckily, in this digital age, most of these programs and courses may no longer require in-person classes and are mostly online. Some good programs and courses for therapeutic recreation are as follows:

Participate in Webinars Related to Therapeutic Recreation

Webinars are a cost-effective and easily accessible way for recreational therapists to stay updated with the latest trends in therapeutic recreation and continue to uphold excellence and best practices expected of them to provide to their patients.

Many of these webinars are free and open to the public, or come with additional fees but are exclusive only to the members of professional organizations related to the said field. They also provide the recreational therapist an option to join live or watch the recording as long as they have access to the internet. Some may also provide CEUs that, aside from the programs and courses previously discussed, may contribute to the maintenance of their professional accreditations and certifications.

Some good webinars related to therapeutic recreation include the following:

Connect with other recreational therapists with Caring Support.

Advance Your Professional Careers With Caring Support

Choosing the best educational institution for your experiential learning on recreational therapy is an important aspect of ensuring that you'll be effective in providing therapeutic recreation services to your patients. Pursuing certification, further training, and engaging in continuous education are also key to ensuring you'll adhere to industry best practices and professional standards.

At Caring Support, we partnered with different post-secondary institutions, community-based agencies, and other healthcare providers to build a supportive community of healthcare professionals within Canada. We promote the formation of meaningful connections among students, their peers, their schools, and their future employers through student membership in our innovative platform. Register now for free and advance your career with us.

About The Author
Cam Adajar
Content Writer

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