Therapeutic Recreation Specialization | PHRP | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Education and Human Services

Equine Therapy

Therapeutic Recreation Specialization

What is Therapeutic Recreation?

Therapeutic recreation uses recreation and a variety of diverse activities to improve the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functional to improve the quality of life for an individual. Therapeutic recreation professionals believe that recreation can change a life for the better.

Description of Program

Students graduating from this program are immediately eligible to sit for the examination to become a Certified Park and Recreation Professional and thereby acquire this valuable credential for professional advancement.

NOTE: To graduate, you must complete a minimum of 60 hours at a senior institution and a total of 120 hours AND apply to graduate by the second week of the semester in which you plan to graduate.

10 Best College Majors for a Lucrative Career

Recreation therapy has been recognized as one of the best college major for a lucrative career by Kiplinger Finance Magazine (2012).  Kiplinger Finance Magazine, August 2012,

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS®)

In addition to earning a Bachelor of Science, graduates also have the opportunity to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS) a nationally recognized certification for therapeutic recreation professionals from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. Please visit for more information.

What Clients Do Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS®) Serve and Where Can You Find Them? 

Recreational Therapists work with a wide range of individuals requiring health services including:  
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Centers
  • Mental  Health Facilities and Psychiatric Centers
  • Hospitals and General Medicine
  • Geriatric (e.g., Long-Term care or Skilled Nursing Facilities)
  • Parks and Recreation Districts and Special Recreation
  • Community Centers and School Systems
  • Camp and Wilderness Settings
  • Substance Abuse and Addition Treatment Facilities
  • Correctional Settings
  • and many other human service agencies....

There is a growing trend for recreational therapists to work in private practice providing services in the home and community as well.

Curriculum Requirement


All students majoring in recreation at SIU Carbondale are required to complete two field experiences and an internship with a professional recreation agency. Field experiences are usually arranged with local agencies, but may also be approved off campus during the summer months.

The internship, a more formal relationship, is a semester-long, full-time experience, often with a salary or stipend; students are chosen on their merits. Our students have completed internships with Chicago Rehabilitation Institute, Veterans Administration hospitals, Illinois Children's Research Hospital, among others. Our students gain first-hand experience by doing field work under the supervision of trained recreation professionals who may assist in future job searches.

Course Requirements

Course Hours
REC 404 Principles and Practices of Therapeutic Recreation
REC 460 Therapeutic Recreation Management
REC 461 Program Design and Evaluation in Therapeutic Recreation
REC 462 Facilitation Techniques in Therapeutic Recreation
12 hrs
Six hours selected from
REC 440a Therapeutic Recreation for People with Psychological Disorders
REC 440b Therapeutic Recreation for People with Developmental Disorders
REC 440c Therapeutic Recreation for People with Older Adults
REC 440d Therapeutic Recreation in Correctional Systems
REC 440e Therapeutic Recreation for People with Physical Disabilities
REC 440f  Therapeutic Recreation for People with Substance Use
6 hrs
PSYC 331 Abnormal Psychology
PSYC 340 Introduction to Clinical and Counseling Psychology
6 hrs
AH 105 Medical Terminology 2 hrs
AH 241 Anatomy and Physiology 4 hrs
PH 311 Life-Span Human Development 3 hrs
Electives (in accordance with certification requirements) 11 hrs
Total 44 hrs

Bating around A good hug

Reasons to Join the SIU Therapeutic Recreation Program:

  • Dedicated faculty who are committed to excellence in teaching.
  • Community is at the core of every experience.
  • Field based learning -from paddling down a winding river to climbing in sandstone canyons or backpacking on remote wilderness trails, recreation classes often meet beyond the classroom.
  • Experiential Education -our educational philosophy emphasizes self-direction and learning by doing.
  • Extensive Network of Alumni
  • Curriculum designed to meet the eligibility criteria for the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Exam
  • Small classes.

You’ll have Fun!

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