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Therapeutic Recreation

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Therapeutic Recreation

Learn how to deliver client-centered care in a variety of Therapeutic Recreation settings during this two-year diploma. You will explore the impact of recreation and leisure on individual wellness and how to enhance your clients’ quality of life through leisure activities.

McKenzie Kuzio - Therapeutic Recreation

Amazement, excitement, disbelief and so many other words. I am determined to reach my goal and I hope that I can inspire and become a great leader.

What to expect from the program

Through a combination of classroom and hands-on learning, you will learn how to use recreation, leisure, and play to help individuals maintain optimal health and well-being.

After completing the program, you will be prepared to:

  • Work with clients of all ages and abilities
  • Work in a variety of health care settings
  • Work as part of a multidisciplinary health care team
  • Demonstrate leadership, professionalism, and clinical reasoning

This program includes flexible study options, including in person, online, and a blend of the two. Please see the delivery options section listed below to determine the best learning modality for you.

Graduate with experience

On-the-job learning provides a unique opportunity for students to practice the skills they developed in the classroom and labs in real-world situations. This experience allows students to improve their confidence, problem solving skills, and ability to work as part of a multidisciplinary team. It also gives students valuable experience they can include on their resume and cover letter.

During the Therapeutic Recreation program, you will complete two practicums and graduate with 480 hours of work experience.

Additional information

This program provides the requirements for supporting membership status with the Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). ATRA requires applicants for professional membership to have a degree in therapeutic recreation.

Therapeutic recreation professionals who wish to meet ATRA standards are welcome to take individual courses through Open Studies. You are advised to first email to determine specific course needs, and then apply for Open Studies. After applying, you can contact the program chair at 780.644.6300 to request enrolment in specific courses.

Selecting your delivery option

NorQuest understands that students have different learning styles and preferences. This program includes three delivery options. When determining how and where you would like to attend classes or complete your program, consider how you learn best. 

In person – 2 years

  • Supports students who learn best with hands-on instruction and structured learning
  • Only available for students who start in fall
  • Complete all your classes and labs in-person
  • Will take 2 years to complete as a full-time student

Online anytime with in-person labs – 2 to 3 years 

  • Supports students who are self-motivated, require flexibility, and have strong time management skills
  • Will not have regular lectures but will receive course resources, learning tools, and access to instructor support throughout the course
  • Labs are in person
  • Full time online is only available to students who start the program in the fall
  • Part time online is available to students who start in either fall or winter terms

 In-person evening and weekend – 3 years 

  • For students who wish to complete their studies in person but cannot commit to full-time studies
  • Attend in-person classes 2-3 evenings a week and 1-3 weekends per term

Career opportunities

Upon successful completion of the program, you can explore career opportunities to work in the public or private healthcare systems as a recreation therapy assistant (RTA).

Some of your responsibilities as an RTA may include:

  • Planning and leading leisure activities to a variety of client populations
  • Assessing clients to help them reach their leisure goals
  • Collaborating with other members of a healthcare team
  • Teach clients how to adapt and use certain equipment for their leisure activities
  • Document and reporting on client progress

For more information on becoming an RTA and related careers, see:

You can also visit the Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association for more information on this career.

What to expect as a therapeutic recreation professional

Applicants should review the job requirements listed below and assess their ability to fulfill the demands of the therapeutic recreation occupation.

Working in therapeutic recreation, you must be able to:

  • Work shifts and weekends
  • Be on your feet for extended periods of time
  • Use your knees, back, and arms to move clients who have minimal body strength
  • Be comfortable taking a leadership role in groups of all sizes
  • Work with clients of all ages, cultures, and genders
  • Work independently to deliver leisure programming
  • Collaborate effectively as part of a healthcare team
  • Demonstrate adaptability and critical thinking skills

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