Recreational Therapy Field Work Experiences Policy

Minimum requirements: Completion of a MINIMUM of 25 documented hours of directed experience assisting with recreational therapy programs and recreation or allied health based services to persons with disabilities PRIOR to admission to the Recreational Therapy program.

Emphasizing the major employment areas of the RT profession, a MINIMUM of 25 hours of experience in the following settings:
  • Rehabilitation settings
  • Long-Term Care settings
  • Nursing Home settings
  • Behavioral Health settings
  • Mental Health settings
  • Substance Abuse settings
  • Community-Based Therapeutic Recreation or other experiences WITH individuals with disabilities

While all 25 hours may be in one setting with the same population, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that students select more than the MINIMUM number of hours in a variety of settings and populations to increase awareness of potential career paths and preparation for future consideration for internship recruitment.

RT Field Work Experiences will have an impact on students' admission into the RT program. Part of a student's admission score will include how many RT Field Work Experience hours have been completed. Therefore, it is vitally important that students complete and document their completion of hours.

It is the student's responsibility to obtain approval from their assigned academic advisor or mentor prior to beginning any experience. Criteria and forms are available from the RCLS website Documentation of completed experiences will be scanned and submitted with the RT application (once the student has met the requirements to be eligible to apply to the RT program). The student should keep a copy of all documents for inclusion in their professional portfolio.

Rationale: The skills and knowledge essential to being an effective Recreational Therapist are based in interpersonal relations, communication, medicine, health care, recreation, and psychology. The Recreational Therapist may be employed in a variety of settings from traditional health care to community wellness and adapted recreation programs. Exposure to the profession, qualified professionals, and related services are critical to helping students develop an understanding of potential career paths in recreational therapy.

Placement Criteria:

Recreational Therapy Programs – It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that experiences be under the supervision of a Licensed Recreational Therapist (LRT) or Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and involvement of the student in direct delivery of intervention based services. Rehabilitation settings may include the typical rehabilitation units in hospitals, free standing rehabilitation centers, or outpatient/day treatment rehabilitation programs. Long term care or nursing home settings may include intervention-based services in traditional nursing homes, and residential treatment facilities for person with mental retardation/developmental disabilities. Behavioral health, mental health, or substance abuse experiences are recommended on a unit within a hospital setting, in a freestanding treatment facility or in community-based agency. Residential treatment facilities may be either short-term such as a group home or long-term such as a state institution. Regardless of setting, the student is to be involved in delivery of treatment based recreational therapy services under the direct supervision of a LRT, CTRS, or agency qualified personnel. These recreational therapy experiences are to provide the student with exposure progressing to experience in the competency areas specified on the RT Competency Sheet.

Community-Based Programs - Appropriate placements include recreation programs for special populations, adapted sports programs, inclusive recreation programs, and allied health programs in which the student interacts directly with program participants for the majority of the time. This includes one or two day events (adapted sports workshop; Special Olympics event; etc.) as well as ongoing programs. Camps for persons with special needs which are diversional and not intervention-based are also included in this category. Entertainment oriented programs in assisted living facilities are placed in this category as well.

Placement Process: A list of agencies with existing pre-practicum experiences is provided on the RCLS website and includes instructions for contacting agencies. While students are not restricted to the agencies on that list, there are agencies that are restricted from RT Field Work Experiences. These agencies are listed on the guidelines provided below. Students are encouraged to identify appropriate experiences in their home town.

Required Documentation:

Field Work Experiences: The student is responsible for keeping track of all their documentation (signed and dated by the student and LRT/CTRS or supervisor). All documentation will be scanned and submitted with the RT application (once the student has met the requirements to be eligible to apply to the RT program). These documents, which are available on the RCLS website include:

  • RT Competency Sheet
  • Performance Evaluation Sheet
  • VSLC Time Sheet


Register with the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center (VSLC) you are covered by their liability insurance.  Only submit COPIES of completed hours to the VSLC. They only need a copy of the VSLC Time Sheet (the last page in the documentation). Remember: you ALWAYS need to keep ALL the originals of your paperwork in your possession.

Locate a potential site to complete the RT Field Work Experience. Begin this process early! Visit RT Internship Resources to gather possible sites. This can give you an idea of where you could possibly do these hours. Agencies for the Rehabilitation, Long-Term Care, Nursing Home, Behavioral Health, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse settings are recommended to be under the supervision of a Licensed Recreational Therapist (LRT) or Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS). The best situation is to do these hours in YOUR OWN HOME COMMUNITY during weekends, breaks, and/or summer. Local options in Greenville are overloaded with requests from ECU students and it would be much easier for students to complete these hours at home during breaks. To protect the available spaces for Senior level practicum sites, the following LOCAL agencies are NOT permitted for Field Work Experience hours:

  • Caswell Developmental Center (Kinston)
  • Cherry Hospital (Goldsboro)
  • Fountains at the Albemarle (Tarboro)
  • UNC Hospitals - Department of Recreational Therapy & Child Life (Chapel Hill)
  • Vidant Health (Greenville)
  • Walter B Jones Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center (Greenville)
  • WilMed – Wilson Medical Center (Wilson)

Search online, call, and visit locations in YOUR community. Below are some EXAMPLES of ACCEPTABLE Field Work sites. ALL FIELD WORK EXPERIENCES MUST BE ACTIVITY-BASED.

  • Brynn Marr Hospital (Jacksonville)
  • Cape Fear Valley Rehabilitation Center (Fayetteville)
  • Carolinas Medical Center (Charlotte)
  • Duke University Hospital (Durham)
  • Halifax Regional Medical Center (Roanoke Rapids)
  • Moses Cone Memorial Hospital: Rehabilitation (Greensboro)
  • Vidant Edgecombe Hospital (Tarboro)
  • Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (Winston-Salem)
  • WakeMed (Raleigh)
Long-Term Care/Nursing Home-
  • Cypress Glen Retirement Community (Greenville)
  • Daybreak Life Center, Inc. (Kinston)
  • Golden Living Centers
  • Sunrise Senior Living
Behavioral/Mental/Substance Abuse-
  • Capital Biofeedback, Inc. (Raleigh)
  • Central Regional Hospital (Raleigh)
  • Creekside Recreational Therapy Services (New Bern)
  • Durham VA Medical Center
  • SOAR (Balsam, NC)
Community-Based Therapeutic Recreation- * All these experiences must be ACTIVITY-based
  • Adapted Sports&Wellness Programs
  • Bridge II Sports (Durham)
  • ECU Adapted Recreation&Wellness Program
  • Greenville Recreation and Parks
  • Pitt County Community Schools&Recreation (Greenville)
  • Pitt County Council on Aging (Greenville&Grifton)
  • Rocking Horse Ranch (Greenville)
  • Senior Programs (not run by CTRS/LRT)
  • Special Olympics
  • Support Team for Active Recreation (Greenville)
  • Victory Junction Camp (Randleman, NC)

Ask RT staff at the agency if they would be willing to host you. Remember that students are NOT to be providing direct service hours but assisting and observing to gain a sense of services provided in the setting.

Be familiar with skills you will need to learn/observe (see RT Field Work Competency Sheet). You need to be aware of the packet and documentation required BEFORE you begin an experience to ensure you meet the requirements.

Have agency supervisor document hours and competencies. Each setting experience requires the RT Field Work Competency Sheet and Volunteer Log Hours to be completed. All experiences require the Supervisor Evaluation form.

Some agencies may require students to do volunteer training before experiences. These hours can be counted as part of the required hours.


There are specific forms to be completed for EACH setting you observe/assist in. Having only a VSLC timesheet is an unacceptable form of documentation for your RT Field Work Experience Hours.  Students need to complete the following:
RT Field Work Experience Documentation

Students ALWAYS need to keep ALL the originals of their paperwork in their possession and keep track of their completed hours! These documents will be scanned and submitted with the RT application (once the student is eligible to apply to the RT program). The scans will be added to your official advising folder once accepted.


RCLS educates tomorrow's leaders in recreation, parks, tourism, and recreational therapy as well as provides scholarship and leadership to the region, state, and nation.


To be the model professional education and training program of the nation through scholarship, innovation, technical assistance, and outreach thereby helping learners to develop the necessary competencies, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking to lead the professions in the coming decades.


RCLS holds the following core values, which serve as the foundation for where we place our priorities in terms of teaching, scholarship, and service.