Therapeutic Recreation

If you love to work with people, and want to help individuals overcome barriers and get the most out of life, Therapeutic Recreation is for you!

What will I get out of the program?

  • Learn how to plan recreation activities for, and contribute to the inclusion of special populations such as:
    • Persons with physical or developmental disabilities
    • Older adults
    • Youth-at-risk
    • Those living with mental health challenges
  • Hands-on experience through the REC 253 practicum and REC 450 internship placements to learn how to assess the needs of clients and deliver customized programming in both clinical (e.g., long-term care facilities) and community settings.
  • Be eligible for registration with Therapeutic Recreation Ontario (TRO) and certification with the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).

Sample courses

  • REC 151 - Foundations of Therapeutic Recreation Practice
  • REC 251 - Therapeutic Recreation: Developmental and Emotional Disabilities
  • REC 252 - Therapeutic Recreation: Physical Disabilities
  • REC 351 - Therapeutic Recreation Facilitation Techniques
  • REC 405 - Leisure and Well-being

Refer to the Undergraduate Calendar for the degree requirements.

How do I choose this major?

  • Successfully complete your first year in Recreation and Leisure Studies Honours and be in good standing (minimum cumulative averages of 65% overall and 70% major).
  • Submit a Plan Modification form to BHM 2201.

Customize your degree

Some students may also wish to complete a double degreeminor or joint honours with your degree in Therapeutic Recreation.

Some suggested elective courses for Therapeutic Recreation students are:

  • BIOL 273, Principles of Human Physiology 1
  • BIOL 301, Human Anatomy
  • GERON 255/SCI 255, The Biology of Aging
  • GERON 320/HLTH 320, Psychosocial Perspectives on Lifespan Development and Health
  • HLTH 101, Introduction to Health 1
  • HLTH 102, Introduction to Health 2
  • KIN 100, Human Anatomy: Limbs and Trunk
  • KIN 242, Introduction to Movement Disorders
  • MUSIC 353 (WLU), Inclusive Arts for Children (1.0 unit)
  • PHIL 226, Biomedical Ethics
  • PSYCH 211, Developmental Psychology
  • PSYCH 213R, Exceptional Children
  • PSYCH 257/PSYCH 257R, Psychopathology
  • PSYCH 317, Child Psychopathology
  • PSYCH 334, Theories of Individual Counselling Psychology
  • *REC 356, Leisure and Community
  • REC 361, Aging and Leisure
  • REC 362/GERON 352/HLTH 352/KIN 352/SOC 352, Sociology of Aging
  • *REC 405, Leisure and Well-being
  • SDS 150R, Lifespan Processes: The Normal Events
  • SPCOM 225, Interviewing
  • SPCOM 324, Small Group Communication
  • SOC 222/LS 222, Juvenile Delinquency
  • SOC 223/LS 223/SOC 223R, Deviance: Perspectives and Processes
  • SOC 248, Health, Illness and Society
  • SOC 249/LS 226, Sociology of Mental Disorder

* REC 356 and REC 405 are only available as electives to students following Therapeutic Recreation degree requirements of 2015 or earlier. Students following 2016 or later requirements already take these two courses as required courses and cannot count them as electives.


National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification
Students planning a career in Therapeutic Recreation may also wish to consider certification with the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC)Certification requirements (PDF) (as of 2013) can be met through courses as part of the Therapeutic Recreation plan. Waterloo's TR curriculum meets the requirement for the education component of registration with Therapeutic Recreation Ontario.


Possible career paths

  • Recreation Therapist
  • Manager of Recreation and Wellness
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Lead Recreation Programer

Recreation and Leisure alumni positions

  • Recreation Therapist - Sunnybrook Heath Sciences
  • Occupational Therapist - Entwistle Power Occupational Therapy 
  • Community Responsive Behaviour Clinician - St. Joseph's Health Centre 
  • Elder Life Specialist - Cambridge Memorial Hospital

Check out some more rewarding careers of past Rec and Leisure graduates.