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Recreation Therapy Aide Certificate

Recreation Therapy Aides support the efforts of Recreation Therapists in enhancing the quality of life for clients. They work to improve the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of clients in a variety of settings including hospitals and assisted living homes by implementing activities such as sports, dance, board games, music, or crafts.

This certificate is designed for Health Care Aides looking to boost their employability, and can be taken while working. It builds on the skill-set of the Health Care Aide and applicants must currently be working in a care-giving role in the health care field.

This program begins every fall term. Its curriculum has been recently updated and enhanced so as to provide future opportunities for further professional development and learning pathways. Learners complete four months of study which includes both online components and on-campus workshops held twice per month, followed by four weeks of practicum for a total of five months. Practicum shifts may include evenings, nights, and/or weekends.

Practicum Placement

Learners will be required to travel to various locations in order to complete their practicum placement. Every effort is made to accommodate learners in practicum placements within the time frame of the program, however in rare instances there may be a delay in program completion until a practicum placement can be arranged.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Refer to the Program Tuition Fee Chart for an estimate of the cost of completing a Bow Valley College career program. When creating a budget, consider the costs of tuition, student fees, textbooks, learning materials, and police information check fees. Attend a Financial Aid Information Session for advice on financing a Bow Valley College education.

Courses in Program

Curriculum is subject to change

Click on the course to view the course description

COMM1101 - Interpersonal Relationships and Communication Skills (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners are introduced to the concept of self-awareness and the process of communication. Emphasis is on understanding the communication process and building personal and professional communication skills. Communication techniques for working with cultural diversity and special populations are also explored.

RTAD1106 - Introduction to the Recreation Therapy Aide (3 credits, 45 hours)

This introductory course focuses on the role and responsibilities of the recreation therapy aide (RTA) within the recreation therapy environment. Learners consider the key dimensions of recreation therapy: cognitive, physical, psychosocial, spiritual, and emotional components that support the different modalities of therapy. In addition, learners examine how assisting with medication administration, treatment plans, and documentation fit into the scope of practice of the RTA during therapeutic recreation service delivery.

RTAD1107 - The Lifecycle and Chronic Conditions (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners examine the stages of human development, and the area of developmental disabilities to identify how recreation can play a part in the different stages of development. This course also introduces learners to common diseases and conditions. They explore recreation modalities that can therapeutically influence progressive conditions and enhance wellbeing in all dimensions of recreation therapy.

RTAD1203 - Therapeutic Recreation Planning and Interventions (3 credits, 45 hours)

The central focus of this course is recreation therapy programming and the role of the recreation therapy aide (RTA) in the application of the program to meet client needs. Learners study the importance of person-centered care and the associated concepts. They collaborate with recreation therapists to develop programs incorporating the differences in assessment, treatment plans, implementation and evaluations. They explore ways to adapt programs to effectively meet or exceed targeted goals as they collaborate with the health care team. Learners address possible barriers and safety concerns before, during, and after the implementation stage of their program.

RTAD1999 - Recreation Therapy Aide Practicum (3 credits, 150 hours)

During this course, learners undertake a practicum placement in a health care setting employing the recreation therapy aide (RTA). Working under the supervision of a preceptor, learners practice and demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and behaviours of the RTA in the workplace.

Admission requirements

Academic Requirements

  • Successful completion of a recognized Health Care Aide Certificate Program or equivalent


  • Current employment in the health care field (please submit documentation from your employer)

Pre-Practicum Requirement

  • A current Police Information Check (PIC) must be submitted prior to practicum placements. The existence of a criminal record may postpone or prevent clinical, practicum, or field work placements and, subsequently, successful completion of the program.
  • Immunization Requirements must be met prior to participating in practicum placements. Details will be provided after being accepted into the program. Up-to-date immunizations are valid for the duration of the program.

Additional Recommendation

  • Basic Life Support CPR is recommended and often required by employers.