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Therapeutic Recreation

Enhance quality of life by facilitating activities for people who experience barriers to health and leisure activities.

A man sits on a horse and throws balls into a short basketball net; a recreation therapist stands nearby.
Start Date:
September & January
Typical Length:
2 Years

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Working as a team member in environments with many other community and health disciplines, Recreation Therapy Assistants plan, deliver and evaluate recreation activities that help improve an individual's physical, social, emotional, spiritual and cognitive health.

In this career, you evaluate recreational programs and document the benefits and outcomes for individuals participating in these activities.

Learning through various theories and practice models, you gain an understanding of how health circumstances can impact one's ability to participate in recreation, and you learn to help people overcome these barriers.

Work experience

  • Field experience is a mandatory credit course, providing the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
  • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work experience courses are your responsibility.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.
  • International students - all international students require a co-op work permit; you can't complete your NSCC program without one. This program also requires a medical exam to receive your co-op work permit. View co-op work permit - medical exam details.

Choose NSCC

  • NSCC offers the only diploma program of this kind in Nova Scotia, giving you the skills to start a rewarding career in this field.
  • You get hands-on, practical learning, where you apply your skills and knowledge to real projects and work experiences.
  • During the two-year program, you connect with professionals working in the field and immerse yourself in the therapeutic recreation community. You also have opportunities to attend local conferences with national and international presenters.
  • Our faculty members have a range of academic and professional backgrounds, with years of experience in their specific fields.
  • Small class sizes enable you to be very involved in your learning.
  • This program provides structured volunteer and service learning experiences, in addition to your work placement. Together, these placements provide you with over 500 hours of practical experience.

Other info

  • Many employers in this sector require one or all of the following: current, official criminal record check, vulnerable sector check and/or child abuse register search.
  • A conviction or finding in family court may impact your ability to secure employment.
  • This program is not always offered at the same location each year. Check program locations for upcoming start dates.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Ivany Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.

September 2025

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Sydney Waterfront Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available

January 2026

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Lunenburg Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available

Admission requirements

Program requirements

  • A current, official criminal record check and vulnerable sector check are required to complete work placements in many programs. A conviction may impact your ability to complete program requirements.
  • All programs in Health and Human Services require First Aid/CPR as a graduation requirement. For specific program requirements, view additional Health and Human Services program requirements.
  • Many Health and Human Services programs have additional requirements, including immunizations. You must submit proof that you've completed these requirements by the date provided to you at the beginning of your program. View additional Health and Human Services program requirements
    • Receiving immunizations may take up to 10 months to complete.
    • Failure to complete immunizations can result in a delayed work placement, which will impact your ability to complete program and graduation requirements.
  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2024-25 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Graduates may find employment in a variety of settings, with individuals of various ages and abilities.
  • Work environments can include long-term care, assisted living, residential care, community centres, youth-oriented recreation programs, wellness centres/programs, group homes, adult day programs, rehabilitation centres and health districts.

Future study options

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

ANAP 1002 - Anatomy and Physiology for Allied Health
This course provides an overview of the sciences of anatomy and physiology. Knowledge of the basic structure and functions of the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems is essential for a variety of Health and Human Service programs. The integration of these systems will be discussed.

GDEV 1025 - Developmental Psychology
This course examines the expected growth and developmental patterns of individuals from conception through to oldest old. The emphasis is on the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of development.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

SOCS 1000 - Introduction to Sociology
This survey course focuses on the major sociological concepts and theoretical perspectives.

SOCS 1001 - Introduction to Psychology
This survey course will introduce students to the scientific study of human behaviour and mental processes. It will explore its goals, theoretical perspectives, research and applications. It will challenge students to make connections between areas of study and their everyday experience.

SOCS 1005 - Writing Skills for Social Service Practice I
Effective written communication skills are a necessary component for success in the social services environment where transparency, accountability and integrity are core values connected to providing service for others. This one semester course is designed to afford the student the opportunity to develop the skills required to manage information and prepare documents used in the social services field.

SOCS 2002 - Mental Health Issues
This course is a general survey course that considers key content in relation to mental health disorders. The student will examine biological and psychological factors related to mental health and illness, ranging from functional to dysfunctional thoughts and behaviours. Current theories, therapies and intervention strategies are explored. Mental Health will be addressed across the life span. Students will investigate legal, ethical and social perspectives in relationship to scope of practice.

SOCS 2005 - Writing Skills for Social Service Practice II
This course provides students with the opportunity to apply skills developed in Writing Skills for Social Services I. Applications include preparing documents that serve as records in the social services field, collecting and clearly presenting information specific to the needs of an audience, and composing documents for employment that are accurate and appealing.

SOCS 2035 - Introduction to Addictions
This course is designed to provide an overview and introduction to the addictions field. Learners will be introduced to issues and trends from both a historical and present day perspective. It will involve exploring drug and alcohol use from a physical, social emotional and biological perspective. This course will involve an exploration of services offered across the spectrum both locally and throughout Canada.

TREC 1007 - Helping Applications in Therapeutic Recreation
This course introduces the learner concepts of skills associated with being a helper and the development of professional therapeutic relationships. Emphasis will be placed on communication skills (verbal and non-verbal), empathy and rapport building. Learners will also develop attending, paraphrasing, and questioning skills.

TREC 1008 - Health and Wellness
This course provides students with the opportunity to explore health and wellness from a broad perspective. Students will understand the social determinants of health as well as concepts related to health promotion and prevention and consider their impact from a personal and community based level.

TREC 1010 - Introduction to Therapeutic Recreation and Leisure
This introductory course will examine the historical and philosophical evolution of therapeutic recreation, recreation, leisure, play and sport. The focus will be on leisure and recreation as an integral dimension influencing the quality of an individual’s life. This course will focus on the review of current goals and priorities for Canada and Nova Scotia and link with the delivery of therapeutic recreation and recreation/leisure services. Learners will be introduced to the national and provincial organizations that provide support, research, and development of therapeutic recreation and recreation/leisure in Canada.

TREC 1015 - Introduction to Leadership and Group Facilitation
This course introduces students to the concept of self-awareness and how it contributes to leadership and group facilitation and the development of an effective therapeutic recreation professional. Students will begin by examining their skills and strengths as well areas for further enhancement that will lead to interpersonal growth, leadership development and therapeutic relationship building needed for successful group facilitation. Students will examine group dynamics and learn how to effectively facilitate groups.

TREC 1023 - Therapeutic Recreation Program Planning
Learners will understand the therapeutic recreation process, key concepts, theories, practice models and current service delivery approaches to build their understanding of the therapeutic recreation process. Therapeutic recreation program planning is a fundamental skill for entry level TR professionals. This course will introduce therapeutic program planning to the learner and take them through an examination of the major aspects of programming as a primary function of TR professionals. Furthermore, this course will explain the role of the professional as leader as well as the needs of the consumer through needs assessment, program development, implementation and evaluation.

TREC 1050 - Practicum I
This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop basic skills needed for therapeutic recreation practice. Learners will focus on developing therapeutic relationships through one to one program implementation, communication skills and inter-professional collaboration.

TREC 2003 - Leisure Across the Lifespan
This course is designed for in-depth exploration of the impact of recreation and leisure on the growth and development of individuals throughout their life. Students will consider the impact of family, peers, and other life milestones (work, marriage, children, etc.) on recreation involvement.

TREC 2005 - Therapeutic Recreation and Continuing Care
This course is designed to review current trends in continuing care as they relate to Therapeutic Recreation professionals. Students will be introduced to the complex needs of continuing care residents and will begin to evaluate and apply evidence-informed Therapeutic Recreation interventions.

TREC 2007 - Health Conditions in Therapeutic Recreation
This course is designed to introduce the student to a variety of health conditions and how these conditions impact the leisure lives of individuals across the lifespan. The student will examine how therapeutic recreation services can be implemented as part of the health care plan. The student will explore leisure and recreation-based activities that provide support for the individuals with specific health condition.

TREC 2018 - Applying the Therapeutic Recreation Process I
This course is designed to provide an opportunity to apply the theoretical aspects of assessment and planning as they pertain to the therapeutic recreation process.

TREC 2020 - Volunteer Management and Grant Writing
This course examines the broad issue of volunteerism and components of an effective volunteer management program. Liability and risk management are also examined within the context of volunteer programs. Social and recreation service delivery is often dependent on grants, contracts, or contributions to program funding. Students will explore the structure and processes required to develop a successful grant proposal for projects associated with recreation and delivery.

TREC 2022 - Behavioural Interventions in Therapeutic Recreation
This course provides an examination of therapeutic recreation facilitation techniques. Students will develop a fundamental understanding of the rationale, benefits, delivery and resources associated with a wide range of techniques and interventions that many be utilized across a variety of therapeutic recreation settings.

TREC 2026 - Professional Practice
This course is designed to assist students in applying professional standards of practice, established code of ethics and relevant legislation to therapeutic recreation practice. Additionally students will understand their role in student supervision, professional collaboration and engagement.

TREC 2028 - Applying the Therapeutic Recreation Process II
This course is designed to provide an opportunity to apply the theoretical aspects of implementation, evaluation and documentation as they pertain to the therapeutic recreation process.

TREC 2029 - Therapeutic Recreation Facilitation Techniques
This course provides an examination of therapeutic recreation facilitation techniques. Students will develop a fundamental understanding of the rationale, benefits, delivery and resources associated with a wide range of techniques and interventions that many be utilized across a variety of therapeutic recreation settings.

TREC 2050 - Practicum II
This course designed to build on the skills developed during the Practicum I in addition to practicing assessment skills and co-facilitation of group-based therapeutic interventions. Learners will practice communicating the benefits of programs and applying motivational techniques.

TREC 3050 - Practicum III
This course is designed to provide learners the opportunity to further develop skills applied in the first two Practicums. Additionally, client goal and objective development, individual and group based therapeutic program planning and implementation, documentation will be of primary focus.

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