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UWM Undergraduate Catalog 2015-2016

College of Health Sciences

Therapeutic Recreation

Certificate in Therapeutic Recreation

Therapeutic Recreation (TR) is the provision of treatment services and recreation services to persons with illnesses or disabling conditions. The primary purposes of treatment services (also called recreation therapy) are to restore, remediate, or rehabilitate in order to improve functioning and independence. The primary purpose of recreation services is to provide recreation and leisure resources and opportunities to help improve health and well-being and enhance quality of life.

Therapeutic Recreation Specialists may work in hospitals, residential care, long-term care, schools, and a variety of community settings. Individuals served include people with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities. A variety of recreation/leisure activities are employed as tools to help those served attain independence and a high quality of life.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, "The rapidly growing number of older adults is expected to spur job growth for recreational therapy professionals and paraprofessionals in assisted-living facilities, adult daycare programs, and other social assistance agencies. Continued growth also is expected in community residential care facilities, as well as daycare programs for individuals with disabilities." Given the projected need for recreation specialists, the College of Health Sciences at UWM has created a certificate program in Therapeutic Recreation (TR) available to a broad range of individuals, including students and TR and other human service professionals in the community. In addition, individuals who are certified with the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) may wish to complete certificate coursework to comply with continuing education requirements.

The certificate focuses on the development of knowledge and acquisition of skills and abilities in the areas of health and TR. Courses present the concepts of health, wellness, disease, and illness in relation to quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Specific skill development in the areas of assessment and facilitation techniques is also taught and complemented with an ongoing focus on emerging issues in the field of therapeutic recreation. In preparation for the nationally recognized certification examination, coursework covers topic areas included in the NCTRC Job Analysis categories. The program may be taken by UWM undergraduates concurrently with their chosen major, or as a post-baccalaureate educational certificate program.

Five courses are required to successfully complete a Certificate in Therapeutic Recreation. All five of the courses within the certificate program are offered totally online. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 must be maintained on all the required coursework.

TR Certificate Coursework   

Recommended sequence of coursework

TherRec 203 Recreation as a Therapeutic Intervention 3
TherRec 300 Therapeutic Recreation Assessment and Documentation 4
TherRec 308 Therapeutic Recreation in Physical Rehabilitation and Behavioral Health 4
TherRec 310 Facilitation Techniques in Therapeutic Recreation 4
TherRec 400 Therapeutic Recreation Trends 3
Total   18

Related Programs and Degrees

Students interested in pursuing a career in Therapeutic Recreation may wish to examine one of the following degree programs at UWM:

Bachelor of Art

Bachelor of Science
Biological Sciences
Occupational Studies
Social Work


  • Completion of this certificate program partially fulfills the academic coursework requirements for the NCTRC Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist credential. Additional requirements are needed to fully qualify for the credential.
  • Students interested in obtaining NCTRC certification are encouraged to visit the NCTRC website at www.nctrc.org.

For more information about the certificate program, contact Patricia Thomas, TR Certificate Coordinator, at (414) 229-2507 or pthomas@uwm.edu.


Therapeutic Recreation

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University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Undergraduate Catalog 2015-2016:
Therapeutic Recreation
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