(289) 626-TRO1 (8761) - Get In Touch

Therapeutic Recreation Ontario

TRO is a professional non-profit association that represents the interests and advocates on behalf of its members. Membership fees are used to build and support membership services and advance the profession through programs and services such as a recognized designation (R/TRO and R/TRO DIP), opportunities for continuing education, advocacy with relevant stakeholders, marketing of the impact and value of recreation therapy, support to research through the Therapeutic Recreation Practice and Research (TRPR) Journal of TRO and ongoing operational support such as the website including many members-only pages.

Please click here for information concerning the TRO's R/TRO and R/TRO DIP Registration Process.

Please click here for questions concerning Professional Liability Insurance.

If you are interested in enhancing your resume, networking, having a voice in the future of the TR profession and obtaining professional contribution points, consider volunteering on a TRO Committee. Members interested in becoming a TRO volunteer should submit their application here.

Student members of TRO have access to the same benefits as professionals with the exception of voting at the annual general meeting. Click on our Student Centre page to view a list of benefits and resources most relevant to students.


TR Education in Ontario

There are three options in Ontario for specializing in Therapeutic Recreation: 1. A university degree in Therapeutic Recreation. 2. A college diploma (2 year or fast-track) 3. A post-graduate certificate in Therapeutic Recreation. In addition, some career colleges are beginning to offer limited programs in Therapeutic Recreation although we have limited knowledge of their programs. For those interested in working in TR and/or interested in pursuing their designation, a program that offers a specialization in Therapeutic Recreation is strongly recommended. Graduate level degrees in Therapeutic Recreation are also offered at the University of Waterloo and Brock University.

Some of the main differences between the education options include: the duration of the program, credential awarded upon graduation, entrance requirements (Ontario College Graduate Certificate programs require a degree or diploma in a related field prior to admission), amount of field placement/internship hours, eligibility for Registration designation (R/TRO, R/TRO DIP), eligibility for NCTRC certification (CTRS), potential job opportunities available upon graduation.

People trained in Therapeutic Recreation (TR) have a wide range of career opportunities including working in long-term care or retirement homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, and community-based agencies (and many others). As an unregulated profession, employers still determine what level of education is required for positions within their agency. There is not one consistent standard, but as a general rule of thumb, hospitals in larger cities are more likely to require a degree in TR (or an allied degree plus a graduate certificate) for their Recreation Therapist positions while Recreation Therapy Assistant positions at those same facilities may require a diploma in Recreation Therapy. Many other agencies will hire people for Recreation Therapist positions with all levels of TR-specific education. When you contact schools you are considering, ask them what types of positions their grads are being hired for. It is also a good idea to check TR job postings on the TRO Careers page or other job board sites and look at the educational hiring criteria specified for the types of positions you are most interested in. It is also worth noting within these job postings what other qualifications, including membership with TRO, the Registration designation, or CTRS certification are required or recommended for these positions.

Most schools offer a variety of options. Click here for an overview of TR programs in Ontario. Contact the individual schools to learn more.

It has to do with the program titles that the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities approved as new program types were developed. It does not signify any difference in program content or philosophy.

Simply put, it is the amount of specialized training and education in Therapeutic Recreation. Recreation and Leisure Services (RLS) diplomas prepare graduates to work in a wide variety of recreation positions which might include municipal or outdoor recreation, non-profit organizations, commercial recreation etc. Within that RLS diploma, a small amount of coursework may focus on Therapeutic Recreation. A Recreation Therapy diploma program is designed to prepare graduates to work specifically in Therapeutic Recreation. The coursework and practical experience reflects that specialization.

The Registration designation (R/TRO, R/TRO DIP) currently requires individuals to obtain points in four areas: TR Education, TR Experience, TR Affiliation and TR Professional Contributions. The schools listed on this webpage have voluntarily provided their curriculum for review and the TRO Practice Review Committee has determined their curriculum to be in alignment with the Essential Competency Framework. Graduates from these programs may follow "Path A" in the Practical Experience section of the Registration Application Package (R/TRO, R/TRO DIP). Graduates from programs not listed should follow "Path B" in their Registration application. Students may learn more about the education requirements by clicking hereYou are encouraged to compare the education program you are considering with the Registration education requirements. Then, if you have additional questions, follow up with each individual school you are considering.

The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) has various paths that applicants take to obtain their Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) designation. In order to be eligible for NCTRC certification under any of these paths, you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree plus specific TR coursework. As a result, students with diploma-level training only will not be eligible for NCTRC certification. See the NCTRC website for full eligibility details. Prospective TR students are again encouraged to look at job postings for positions of interest to see what qualifications are being requested to determine the importance of this credential for their aspirations.

If your employer has indicated you just need to take 3 TR courses, then there are several options for which schools you can attend that do not require you to enroll in their complete program. You can contact individual schools from the ones listed earlier in this document to find the right fit for you. You will want to ensure, however, that the courses you select meet the definition of a suitable TR course. Getting advance approval of a particular course from your employer prior to registering is recommended.

As an unregulated profession, there is not one specific academic training required to work in Therapeutic Recreation (TR) as there would be for a profession such as nursing, for example. It is really up to an employer to determine what level of qualification best meets their needs. As a professional association representing the field of Therapeutic Recreation, TRO recommends extensive, specialized TR education preparation so that Recreation Therapists have the essential skills and competencies when entering the field

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to do as much research as possible about a school they are considering attending. At minimum, contacting the Program Coordinator by phone or email is advisable. If a personal visit can be arranged, that will also help you assess the suitability of a program for you. When arranging a visit, ask if you can sit in on a class or two as well as meet with the Program Coordinator and current students. You will find a list of questions below that may help you determine if a program seems like the right fit for you.

In addition to questions that you deem as personally important, the following questions may help you gauge the suitability of a program for you:
How long has the program been in existence?
What are the unique/special features about this program?
How does the program incorporate TRO’s Standards of Practice within the curriculum?
What sort of work and education background do the core TR faculty members have?
How many faculty members have their Registration designation?
Do any faculty members have their NCTRC certification?
What is the job placement rate upon graduation?
What are some recent specific positions and agencies that your grads have been hired for?
How many placement/internship hours will I complete?
What sorts of placement/internship opportunities will I have?
How are placements/internships arranged?
Will I have a choice in where I am placed for my internship?
Will I be eligible for the R/TRO or R/TRO DIP designation after graduation?
Will I be eligible for NCTRC certification after graduation?
Does your school have an Education Institution Partnership agreement with TRO?
How are your faculty members involved with TRO?
Do you have any grads that would be willing to speak with me about your program?


Registration Designation

If you have any further questions regarding TRO's designation, please contact Stacey Sestric, (289) 626-TRO1 (8761) ext. 3, trodesignation@trontario.org.

R/TRO and R/TRO DIP are the designations that indicate a Therapeutic Recreation professional is Registered with TRO. It is a credential that indicates you have met a minimum standard of excellence within your Therapeutic Recreation experience, formal education, professional affiliation and professional contributions.  

Yes, you do need to be a member of TRO prior to submitting your Registration Application package. This means you must apply for a Professional membership first, and then complete and submit your Registration application while you are an active member. If approved, the TRO staff will change your membership from Professional to Registered Professional and you will continue to renew as a Registered member.

In addition to obtaining the minimum points overall and within the other areas of practical experience, affiliation, and professional contributions, you must have a degree, diploma or post-graduate certificate in Therapeutic Recreation.

Yes you do. You must maintain membership to maintain Registration. Any interruptions, such as allowing your membership to expire for more than 3 months, will nullify Registration status and you will be required to complete and submit your R/TRO application again.


Registration Applications

If you have any further questions regarding R/TRO applications, please contact Stacey Sestric, (289) 626-TRO1 (8761) ext. 3, trodesignation@trontario.org.

Yes you can – this is perfectly okay for you to do this. 

It depends. If you attended a school that has had its curriculum reviewed, you will be applying through Pathway A and job descriptions are not required.  If you attended a school that has not yet had its curriculum reviewed, then you apply through Pathway B and job descriptions are required.

Membership in TRO is the only professional affiliation accepted. 

The TRO office MAY be able to supply documentation for past conferences. Please note there is a fee associated with requests of previous documentation. We highly recommend that you keep all documentation for all conferences and workshops that you attend in a safe, secure place. We also encourage you to participate in the PCC process at each TRO conference in order to ensure that there are clear records of your participation.

You will be notified by mail regarding the status of your application in the month that your package is reviewed. For example, if you submitted your package for the November Review, you will be notified in November. If you are successful, you will receive a Registration Card and Registration pin. If you have not been successful, your letter will outline the missing information you will need to submit with your appeal.

Applications must be received by the first of the month prior to the review. Submission dates are the 1st of: January, April, July, October. Quarterly reviews take place the months of: February, May, August, and November.

Click here to download the initial Registration (R/TRO, R/TRO DIP) forms to view the Professional Contribution Points page as a quick reference for professional contribution opportunities you may have participated in during the past 5 years and how many points you may obtain for each.


Designation & Certification F.A.Q.s

Registration (R/TRO or R/TRO DIP) is a designation issued through Therapeutic Recreation Ontario (TRO), a provincial voluntary membership organization. A registered member of TRO has demonstrated that they are a well-rounded practitioner, having met certain criteria in the areas of Therapeutic Recreation (TR) education, TR experience and Professional Contributions, in addition to being an active member in good standing with Therapeutic Recreation Ontario. Only members of TRO can become registered with TRO. Certification (CTRS) is a credential that is issued through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), an international credentialing organization. A Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) is a recreational therapist that has passed the national certification exam and met the requirements for training, skills, and knowledge recognized as essential for recreational therapy practice.

To become registered with TRO, there is a formal application process; the applicant must maintain their membership annually with TRO, they must have graduated from an academic institution in a TR program, completing a certain number of TR credits, and supportive coursework credits. In addition, the applicant must have completed a minimum number of hours of practical experience, exercising TRO’s standards of practice. Lastly, the applicant must demonstrate contributions to the profession by earning professional contribution points for activities such as supervising students, attending or presenting at conferences, to name a few. Individuals seeking certification apply to NCTRC and must meet established standards that include education, experience, and continuing professional development. The Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential is granted by NCTRC after the specific educational and experiential qualifications are met, eligibility to take the exam is established, and testing is successfully completed.

As TR is not a regulated health profession, both registration and certification are voluntary, although increasingly we are seeing employers indicate membership with TRO and/or Registration with TRO or certification in their hiring criteria. Depending on your academic pathway, your desired employment, and future goals, either registration, certification, or both might be to your advantage. It’s best to educate yourself on the benefits of both designations, as well as other factors such as time, financial and additional education investments to determine what will be best for you as a professional working in the field of Therapeutic Recreation (TR). Some TR practitioners choose to pursue both registration and certification. 

Currently TRO is not actively pursuing regulation through RHPA. TRO recently met with government representatives to discuss the future of regulation of health care professionals in Ontario. The Ministry has many concerns with the current process and will propose options for new models to the government after June 2018. This could take many forms including a registry, title protection, curriculum standards, umbrella college, or more. As we continue to advocate for the profession to employers and government, and evaluate the best method of standardization for recreation therapy practice and professionals, TRO continues to recommend the registration designation as the minimum hiring criteria in Ontario. In terms of elevating our profession, TRO believes it is important to work towards standard education. In conjunction with TR educators, TRO has developed an Essential Competency Framework that is currently being used across our post-secondary educational institutes to ensure standardization in education. Additionally, the Essential Competency Framework (ECF) will be shared with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development during their TR diploma and post-graduate certificate program standards review process where we anticipate participating in the consultation process.

We are seeing an increasing number of employers preferring candidates who are Registered with TRO and even more requiring membership with TRO. Every hiring facility will have its own hiring standards. A common theme that has been noticed among our members is that hospitals often seek university education as the minimum hiring criteria, whereas long-term care homes or community organizations tend to seek college-prepared practitioners.

R/TRO is for degree-prepared practitioners and R/TRO DIP is for diploma-prepared practitioners.

To maintain your registration with TRO, you must demonstrate ongoing education in TR over the course of 5 years. Every 5 years you will be required to collect professional contribution points These can be earned through education opportunities, supervising students, taking courses, or facilitating learning opportunities. You must also maintain your membership in good standing with TRO by submitting your membership renewal and membership fee annually, as well as the $25 maintenance fee to renew your designation every five years. To maintain your CTRS certification, you must earn a minimum of 50 hours of continuing education, related to the NCTRC Job Task Analysis. You are also required to submit an annual maintenance application and fee each year of the 5-year cycle.