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Therapeutic Recreation (Diploma)

Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Credits: 61.0
Length: Four semesters
Campuses: Coquitlam
Credential: Diploma
Learning Format: Full-time, Part-time
Offered: Fall
program overview

Make a real, positive difference in the lives of people facing disabilities, injuries, social isolation and other challenges with a career in the field of recreational therapy. Help children, adolescents, adults and seniors improve their overall health and well-being and live full, independent lives through fun and leisure activities.

The two-year Therapeutic Recreation Diploma will prepare you to assess, plan, implement and evaluate a wide range of leisure services for people with barriers to participating in leisure activities. Such services might include arts and crafts, dance, music, sports, games, aquatics and group outings. You will have the opportunity to apply classroom theory in real-life situations through two semesters of practicum work in health-care or social-service settings.

Job prospects are good

Recreational therapy is used in the fields of gerontology, paedology, psychology, rehabilitation and more. As a diploma graduate, you can find work as a recreation assistant, program planner, recreation leader and activity worker in a variety of settings, including hospitals, mental-health centres, long-term care homes, rehabilitation centres, correctional facilities, youth assessment centres and group homes. From 2015 to 2025, there will be almost 4,000 new job openings for recreation program leaders (and related positions) in B.C., with an average salary of $41,000 per year.

Complete a bachelor’s degree

The diploma program fulfills the requirements of years one and two of the Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation program at Douglas College. Alternatively, the diploma transfers toward the Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care at the University of the Fraser Valley and the Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation at the University of Calgary.

curriculum framework

Graduation Requirements:

  • Successful completion of 61 credits
  • 25% (15 credits) of all coursework must be completed at Douglas College

Course Requirements:

Course Number Course Title Credits

Select one course from the following three options:

BIOL 1105

Human Anatomy & Physiology I

3.00

BIOL 1103

Human Anatomy & Physiology I

3.00

BIOL 1109

Human Anatomy & Physiology I

3.00

Select one course from the following three options:

BIOL 1205

Human Anatomy & Physiology II

3.00

BIOL 1203

Human Anatomy & Physiology II

3.00

BIOL 1209

Human Anatomy & Physiology II

3.00

Required Courses:

ENGL 1130

Academic Writing

3.00

PSYC 1130

Lifespan Human Development

3.00

THRT 1101

Therapeutic Recreation Foundations

3.00

THRT 1102

Leisure & Recreation Foundations

3.00

THRT 1201

Recreation Program Planning

3.00

THRT 1203

Leisure, Recreation and Health Throughout the Lifespan

3.00

THRT 1204

Principles and Practices of Health

3.00

THRT 1205

Communication Skills for Recreation and Health Promotion Professionals

3.00

THRT 2301

Assessment and Program Planning in Therapeutic Recreation

3.00

THRT 2306

Inclusive Leisure Practice

3.00

THRT 2307

Valuing Diversity: Therapeutic Recreation and Mental Health

3.00

THRT 2308

Older Adulthood: Psychosocial Issues and Interventions

3.00

THRT 2309

Physical Fitness: Theory and Application in Therapeutic Recreation

3.00

THRT 2333

Therapeutic Recreation Practice

3.00

THRT 2406

Recreation Leadership in Small Groups

3.00

THRT 2407

Value Diversity: Therapeutic Recreation and Physical and Developmental Disabling Conditions

3.00

THRT 2408

Chronic Health Conditions and Therapeutic Recreation

3.00

THRT 2444

Therapeutic Recreation Practice II: Diploma

4.00

Total Credits

61.00

career transfer pathways
Approximately 90 percent of graduates find employment within six months, working in various health, social service and recreation agencies: 
  • Hospitals  
  • Long-term care facilities for older adults  
  • Youth assessment centres  
  • Rehabilitation settings  
  • Group homes  
  • Mental health settings  
  • Adult day centres  
  • Rehabilitation centres  
  • Correctional facilities  
  • Municipal recreation centres  
  • Agencies working with people with developmental disabilities  
Graduates hold a variety of positions: 
  • Recreation Aides/Assistants  
  • Program Planners  
  • Recreation Leaders  
  • Activity Workers  
  • Activity Programmers  
  • Recreation Therapist (in some settings)  
The salary range depends on the setting and type of work you choose to do. The low end of the scale would be about $16/hour and the high end would be approximately $25/hour. Health care settings tend to pay more than residential settings and much will depend on whether your setting is unionized and to which union you belong. We say that the average starting salary for diploma graduates is approximately $18/hour.     

Transferring to Degree Programs

Douglas College Bachelor in Therapeutic Recreation  
Students currently in the Diploma Program may choose to transfer to the Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation Degree. They must decide at the end of the first year to either continue in the Diploma Program or move into the  Degree Program.   

Graduates of the Therapeutic Recreation Diploma Program can apply to the Bachelor Degree Program as a Third Year Access student. Depending on the year of graduation, diploma grads will receive 56 to 60 credits towards their degree.   
Degrees Outside of Douglas College
Those with a Therapeutic Recreation Diploma will receive a two-year block credit towards the following university degree programs: 
  
  • The University of Calgary Community Rehabilitation Degree, through distance education with groups meeting in the Lower Mainland for study and collaboration with other students.  
  • The University College of the Fraser Valley Bachelor of Arts Degree in Child and Youth Care.
other information
The program utilizes computer technology and it is therefore expected that students enter the program with basic word processing and Windows application skills.

Applicants found suitable for admission but not offered a seat in the program will need to reapply. Therefore, applicants not offered a seat will be required to maintain involvement in recent volunteer/work experience totaling 45 hours within the year prior to their re-application.

admission requirements

Applicants must meet the admission requirements listed below:

  • General College Admission Requirements
  • Attendance at an Information Session is strongly recommended
  • Successful completion of at least 45 hours of supervised work (paid or volunteer) in recreation services for people with disabilities or older adults within the year prior to the application date of April 1.
  • A Letter of Intent outlining the reasons a candidate has chosen this program, long and short-term goals, and strengths and limitations
  • An up-to-date resume - highly recommended
  • Department Eligibility Form
  • Informed Medical Suitability Declaration indicating satisfactory level of physical and emotional health after application to the Therapeutic Recreation Program
  • Preferential Admission Evidence - see below
  • A personal interview may be required. If an interview is required, it will occur after April 1 and the applicant will be notified
  • NOTE:  Applicants who have completed 9 or more post-secondary credits must be in good academic standing (with a minimum GPA of 1.5) for admission to any CFCS program.

Due once an offer of admission is made:

  • A Criminal Record Search (CRS) -  Applicants will receive the form from the Registrar's Office once an offer of admission has been made
  • A TB test - a negative TB test or Chest X-Ray done within the past two years

More admission and program details are available in the Prospective Student Guide.

Preferential Admissions
Students are encouraged to apply early and submit documented evidence for the preferential admission criteria listed below. Applicants are recommended to contact the Therapeutic Recreation Program Technician or an Academic Advisor to ensure all admission criteria is clearly understood and documented.

Applicants are reminded they must first meet the minimum admission requirements as listed above and then they are ranked based on the preferential admission criteria. All documents supporting the preferential admission criteria are due by April 1 (or earlier). There is a maximum of 25 points available through this process. 

In the event that two or more applicants score the same, the date of application will be used to determine their final ranking.

Previous Formal Education Studies – Maximum 10 points

Students may receive points in Section 1.1 OR Sections 1.2 and 1.3 to a maximum of 10 points

Official transcripts must be submitted to the Registrar’s office to be considered except for Douglas College courses/credentials.

A. College/University Associate Degree/Diploma/Certificate
Students who have successfully completed previous credentials from a recognized and accredited institution will receive the following score:
  • Bachelor's Degree - 10 points
  • Associate Degree/Diploma - 8 points
  • Certificate/Citation - 6 points
and/or
B. University Transfer Courses

Students who have successfully completed any university transfer course(s) with a minimum grade of "C" will receive 1 point for each course up to a maximum of 5 courses.

and/or

C. High School Courses

Students who have successfully completed high school courses with a minimum grade of a "C" (exception is *English 12 - see below) in the following subject areas will receive 1 point for each course up to a maximum of 5 courses:

  • Human Service 11 or 12
  • Biology 11 and 12
  • Math 12
  • Social Studies/Science 12 course other than Biology e.g. Physics 12 or Geography 12
  • Psychology 11 or 12
  • Fine Arts or Music 11 or 12
  • Physical Education 11 or 12
  • Leadership 11 or 12
  • English 12 - *with a minimum grade of "A"
  • Drama 11 or 12
  • Visual Arts 11 or 12
  • Peer Tutoring 11 or 12
Previous Continuing Education Studies - Maximum 5 points

Students who have taken workshops or CE courses in recreation, social service or health-related areas will receive up to 5 points. Examples include:

  • Standard First Aid = 1 point
  • Emergency First Aid = 0.5 point
  • FoodSafe = 1 point
  • Serve It Right = 0.5 point
  • CE courses or workshops offered through professional associations or advocacy groups = 1 point for each
  • Class 4 Drivers License Training Course = 1 point
Copies of the certificates or tickets must be submitted as proof.  Expired certificates are not accepted.

Volunteer and/or Related Work Experience - Maximum 5 points 

Students who have volunteer or work experience beyond the required 45 hours in a therapeutic recreation, recreation or human services related field will receive the following scores:

100 - 249 hours = 1pt 

250 - 499 hours = 2pts 

500 - 749 hours = 3pts 

750 - 999 hours = 4pts 

1000 + hours = 5pts

* A completed Supervised Volunteer/Work Reference form is required for additional points

Accomplishments - Maximum 5 points

Accomplishments may be related to working in groups, demonstrations of leadership, personal achievements or having been a member of a community or school organization or team. All submissions must have occurred within the last ten years. For example: conference event coordinator, volunteer executive position in an association, team sports, peer tutoring, peer counseling, etc.

Each accomplishment needs to be supported by evidence which may include a letter by an individual representing the group or organization who conferred the award or who was directly involved in your accomplishment. Examples: coach, teacher, principal, volunteer coordinator. Letters from family and friends are not suitable. Copies of certificates, letters of recognition, where applicable, should also be included.

program cost

You can get an average cost for your program - tuition and student fees, books, uniforms, lab fees etc - on the Program Cost page. 

Only programs approved for student loan funding are listed on the Program Cost page. For all other programs, refer to the Tuition Fee page.

curriculum guidelines

Program Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this program and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the program, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

I have some volunteer experience and I'm wondering if it "fits" the 45 hours of supervised work required for admission?

The primary purpose of the supervised hours is for the applicant to get a sense for the field of Therapeutic Recreation. Completing an experience that allows you to see and experience the role of recreation in meetings the needs of older people or people with disabilities may help you decide if this is the field for you. So, in order to make the experience meaningful in that way, we ask that your hours involve working with older adults (seniors) in any setting OR with people of any age group as long as they have a disability. We also require that the hours spent with those people involve direct or indirect provision of recreation services. This means that you can either be involved in leading recreational programs or experiences OR you can be involved as an assistant o the leader of a recreation program or experience. Finally, we require that your 45 hours be supervised by an individual who will be prepared to evaluate your experience on a form that will be provided. Ideally, your supervisor would have training in Therapeutic Recreation, or in Recreation in general, however, as long as the supervisor is employed in the recreational department or unit or is the Administrator and has had the opportunity to observe you, that will suffice.

So, for example, if you have experience spending time one-to-one with an autistic child and the time you spend involves making meals, transportation and going to the mall or park, we would recommend that you pursue 45 hours in another way or setting. Although your experience here will help you overall, it will not give you the sense for the field of therapeutic recreation that we believe you would benefit from. If, on the other hand, you have assisted in the recreation or activities department of an intermediate care facility or a mental health clubhouse, that will work just fine. Any setting which offers recreation services to older adults or to people with disabilities should work. If you're wondering where in your community you could get that experience, we suggest a visit to your local library (or internet) and a look at "The Red Book". The Red Book is a Directory of health and social services in the lower mainland, including addresses and phone numbers.

For more information on the supervised work requirement and a list of the volunteer sites we recommend, please check our Volunteer Opportunities pages.

I have experience in the provision of recreation services for people with disabilities, but I got paid. Is that okay?

Yes, the 45 hours of supervised work can be paid or volunteer.

Do I have to complete my volunteer hours before I apply to the program?

No, you can complete your volunteer hours after you apply however all of your 45 hours must be completed by the April 1 deadline. We recommend that you apply to the program as early as you can. Please do not wait until February or March to apply. Early applicants will receive assistance on how to meet their volunteer requirement as well as advice on what academic and continuing education courses could be taken before entering into the program.

What is the salary range for TR Practitioners?

This depends on the setting, the type of work you choose to do, and whether you have a diploma or a degree. The range of salaries in the field for graduates with a diploma is quite large. The low end of the scale would be about $16.00/hour and the high end of the scale would be approximately $25.00/hour. Health care settings tend to pay more than residential settings and much will depend on whether your setting is unionized and to which union you belong. We say that the average starting salary for diploma graduates is approximately $18/hour to start.

The average starting salary for a degree graduate is approximately $25/hour, ranging from $18 to $35/hour. Degree graduates are also more likely to advance over time, to positions that pay more.

Do you offer the courses through distance education? I live outside the Lower Mainland and would not be able to move, in order to take the program.

We do plan to offer courses via distance education in the future. We know there is great interest outside of the Lower Mainland of BC and we aim to meet that need as soon as possible. Please stay tuned to our Therapeutic Recreation website for updates. We will also announce changes through the various professional organizations that represent T.R. practitioners and health promotion professionals.

Do I need to complete the diploma before I apply for the degree?

No, you can apply to the degree program as a first year student and complete the four years as a degree student. Applicants unable to commit to attending full-time classes for four years can complete the diploma on a full-time basis then apply to the degree program as a third year access student.

I'm interested in entering the program as a third year degree access student. Can I take one or two courses a semester?

Yes, you can choose to do third year degree access as a full-time or part-time student. A number of the third and fourth year courses are offered in the late afternoon, evening, three hour blocks or in alternate delivery styles.

What can I do to prepare before classes start?

This is a common question, especially if you've been out of school for some time. We recommend that you feel comfortable with your writing skills. If you know that you could improve your writing skills, we recommend that you take a suitable course or that you involve yourself in any experience that will give you practice and feedback on your writing skills. For example, you may want to take a short course or workshop through your local School Board Continuing Education offerings, or through you local Parks and Leisure Service Agency Program offerings. If you are confident with your academic writing skills, this is likely not necessary.

It's also helpful to have good computer skills, especially word processing (for writing papers) and internet research skills. Other skills include time management, organizational skills and coping skills for wellness.

Lastly, we recommend that you start the program having practiced what we preach; in other words, enjoy some leisure and do whatever it is that builds wellness for you.

tuition deposit

When offered a full-time seat in this program a non-refundable, non-transferable $350 tuition deposit is required. 

upcoming info sessions
Tuesday 5:00 PM October 16, 2018 COQ room: #A1470 register»
Tuesday 5:00 PM November 13, 2018 COQ room: #A1470 register»
Tuesday 5:00 PM December 04, 2018 COQ room: #A1470 register»