Therapeutic Recreation Ontario

Where do my membership fees go?

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.


Where can I get information concerning the Therapeutic Recreation Ontario Designation Process?

Please click here for information concerning the TRO’s R/TRO and R/TRO DIP Designation Process.

Where can I get information concerning Professional Liability Insurance?

Please click here for questions concerning Professional Liability Insurance.

How do I go about volunteering on a TRO Committee?

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.

What resources are available for student members of TRO?

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

What are my Therapeutic Recreation education options?

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.

What are the main differences between the various types of education programs?

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 the Designation (R/TRO, R/TRO DIP), eligibility for NCTRC certification (CTRS), potential job opportunities available upon graduation.

What jobs will I be eligible for after graduating?

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 Designation, or CTRS certification are required or recommended for these positions.

Do any schools offer their programs online or in another non-traditional format?

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

Why are some programs called “Therapeutic Recreation” and some called “Recreation Therapy”?

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.

What is the difference between a college “Recreation Therapy” diploma and a college “Recreation and Leisure Services” diploma?

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.

Will I be eligible for the designation (R/TRO, R/TRO DIP) after graduating from each of these programs?

The 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 Designation 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 here. You are encouraged to compare the education program you are considering with the Designation education requirements. Then, if you have additional questions, follow up with each individual school you are considering.

Will I be eligible for the CTRS credential after graduating from each of these programs?

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.

I am working in long-term care and have been told I need to obtain 3 TR courses. Do I need to take an entire diploma or certificate program or can I just take the 3 courses I need?

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.

I am considering a career change to work in Therapeutic Recreation (TR). I already have a degree or diploma in an allied field. Do I need to go back to school to complete an entire TR Program?

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

How do I know if a program is right for me?

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.

What questions should I ask schools that I am considering?

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 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?


If you have any questions regarding TRO’s designation, please visit our Designation Application Help page.

Established in 1999, Therapeutic Recreation Ontario (TRO) is the only professional association that represents Therapeutic Recreation practitioners in the province.

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