Recreational Therapy

Recreational Therapy (RT) incorporates a diverse range of activities into health care services. Most commonly practiced in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, behavioral health facilities, and rehabilitation facilities, RT is a systematic process using prescribed activities to achieve predetermined health-oriented objectives. RT services are designed to improve the physical, cognitive, emotional, or social functioning of people with a wide range of illnesses and disabilities.

Recreational Therapy at East Carolina University

The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Recreational Therapy degree program at East Carolina University is nationally accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Alumni of ECU's RT program exceed national average passage rates on the certification exam administered by the National Council of Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). Cumulatively in 2012, 2013, and 2014, 72.6% of first-time applicants from ECU passed the NCTRC certification exam compared to 67.9% of all first-time applicants nationally in the same reporting period. In the most recent reporting year (2014), 80.8% of first-time applications from ECU passed the NCTRC certification exam compared to 76.1% of all first-time applicants.

The capstone experience of the BS program is a 14-week internship. Clinical supervisors evaluate interns on abilities needed to be effective Recreational Therapists, including one item that asks supervisors to provide an overall rating of the interns. In 2014, clinical supervisors reported that 100% of ECU RT interns met or exceeded expectations with the following responses to the overall rating of ECU recreational therapy interns:

  • "Exceeds Expectations" - 34.%
  • "Above Expectations" - 54.3%
  • "Achieves Expectations" - 10.9%
  • "Below Expectations" - 0%
  • "Does Not Meet Expectations" - 0%

The faculty solicits input from practitioners, an advisory council, and others to constantly improve its world-class Recreational Therapy educational program.

Recreational Therapy Program Goals

RT Mission Statement

"Through education and practical experience, prepare students to obtain professional credentials and provide quality recreational therapy services to consumers; to engage in significant research that supports and demonstrates the efficacy of services; and to provide leadership and service to the community, state, and profession." (Source: RT Faculty Program Planning documents, 2009-2010)

RT Vision Statement

"To become a Center of Excellence that prepares the highest-quality recreational therapy clinicians and researchers; that generates cutting-edge recreational therapy scholarship; and provides leadership to the profession."


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.