publically recognized as the largest international body of
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists to provide recreation
To have premier recognition status among consumers, employers,
To use research and technology to enhance the certification
exam program and the critical functions of the Council.
To establish a viable and effective organizational marketing
program and promote the validity and value of the credential.
To enhance opportunities for research and serve as a repository
of information pertaining to credentialing opportunities within
- Establish the Value and Worth of
the CTRS Credential
- Ensure Practice-based Certification
- Maintain an Effective and Technologically
Advanced Exam Program
- Promote Legal Recognition of the
- Increase the Number of New Applicants
for NCTRC certification
- Increase Recertification Retention
- Ensure Fiscal Responsibility
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To protect the consumer
of therapeutic recreation services by promoting the provision
of quality therapeutic recreation services by NCTRC certificants.
- Develop standards for certification.
- Establish standards of conduct and
apply a disciplinary process.
- Conduct entry, recertification,
and reentry testing.
- Maintain an up-to-date job analysis.
- Liaison with professional organizations
with regards to standards of practice.
- Verify certification for employers.
- Conduct research and development.
- Provide recertification and reentry.
- Liaison with educators to provide
information and develop opportunities for student acquisition
of education and experience necessary for certification.
- Provide information to the public
regarding standards, disciplinary processes, and certification.
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- Promote the Value of the Credential
- Create Broad Based Partner Affiliations
- Create Global market Certification
- Lead in Consumer Protection
- Create innovative Education/Training/Research
Opportunities for Consumers, Practitioners and Policy Makers.
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NCTRC is the nationally recognized credentialing organization
for the profession of therapeutic recreation. NCTRC continues
a long history of credentialing in the profession of therapeutic
recreation. Credentialing of therapeutic recreation personnel
began in 1956 with the establishment of the Commission for
the Advancement of Hospital Recreation (CAHR). In 1967, with
the formation of the National Therapeutic Recreation Society
(NTRS), the NTRS Registration Board continued the voluntary
registration program for therapeutic recreation personnel.
NCTRC was founded in 1981 as an independent credentialing
agency designed to meet national credentialing standards in
the United States.
A volunteer leadership managed NCTRC in 1981. By 1985 three
part-time staff were added to manage the growing certification
program. In September 1986, the first full-time Executive
Director was hired along with two full-time clerical personnel.
By 1998, NCTRC staff had grown to 12 full-time and three part-time
The number of certified professionals served by NCTRC has
also shown steady growth over the past 16 years. The first
registration by CAHR in 1959 credentialed 68 hospital recreation
personnel. During NTRS's management of the therapeutic recreation
registration program the numbers grew from over 260 in 1967
to just over 3,000 in 1981. NCTRC currently has over 12,000
active certificants and receives approximately 1,200 new applications
for certification each year.
Since NCTRC was founded to meet national standards for certifying
agencies, the organization has followed the standards of the
Institute of Credentialing
Excellence (ICE) and its accreditation branch, the
National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). NCTRC
has maintained its charter membership in ICE since 1987. In
1993, NCTRC's program was first accredited by NCCA and it
was recently reaccredited through March 2013.
The field of therapeutic recreation has also shown tremendous
growth and development over the past two decades. Today, the
United States Department of Labor projects that there are
over 27,000 recreational therapists in the United States.
Over 12,000 of these professionals are professionally certified
as CTRSs by NCTRC. The CTRS credential is the most professional
advanced credential for the field of therapeutic recreation.
The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics
suggests that therapeutic recreation will grow faster in those
areas that address the health care concerns of older adults.
And as the demand for the CTRS increases from acute care hospitals
to outpatient facilities, day treatment settings and community
living situations, the certification of increasing numbers
of recreational therapists is expected to enhance the recognition
of the important role the CTRS plays in today's health care
and human services arena.
For decades, therapeutic recreation has been recognized as
a valuable profession within health care and human services.
The Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist has become
the industry standard that exemplifies each professional's
dedication to quality standards and excellence in practice.
Since NCTRC was founded
to protect the consumer of therapeutic recreation services
and the public at large, there are many benefits of the NCTRC
program to the public, the profession, the individual practitioner,
and the organization. The public is benefited by the consistent
application of the standards and the promotion of qualified
professionals in the field of therapeutic recreation. NCTRC's
verification and disciplinary services ensure that employers
and clients have access to information regarding the ability
of the CTRS to provide quality therapeutic recreation services
based on national standards with full respect to the health
and safety of the consumer.
The profession has benefited significantly from the credentialing
activities and research of NCTRC. The National Job Analysis
provides the profession with the most accurate research on
current minimum job skills and knowledge required for competent
practice in the profession. NCTRC's position as a national
leader in credentialing has brought the profession into the
spotlight of related health and human service providers, funders,
and advocacy groups. The individual CTRS practitioner has
greater standing in the health care and human service arena
due to the efforts of NCTRC and the quality of the therapeutic
recreation professional credential.
NCTRC works in concert with state regulatory authorities with
adherence to consistent, fair and objective standards and
full due process in its certification program. NCTRC complies
with the Americans with Disabilities Act in the implementation
of the certification program. In the event a state or other
regulatory agency presents NCTRC with data concerning violation
of local, state or federal laws or an agency reports gross
or repeated negligence in practice, NCTRC institutes a thorough
Through the ongoing provision of extensive services in therapeutic
recreation credentialing, NCTRC maintains extensive contact
with the public, consumer, employer, profession, and practitioner
of therapeutic recreation. The organization of NCTRC continues
to advance and excel as it is structured to meet the highest
quality standards for credentialing organizations in this
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is a charter member of the Institute
of Credentialing Excellence (ICE). Since 1993,
NCTRC's certification program has been accredited by ICE's
National Commission for Certifying Agencies. NCTRC certification
program parallels the standards followed in medicine by the
American Board of Medical Specialties and by other related
professions such as the National Board for the Certification
of Occupational Therapy Board and the Certification Board
for Music Therapists.
The NCTRC Certified Therapeutic
Recreation Specialist Certification Program was awarded re-accreditation
status by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)
for a five-year period, expiring March 31, 2018. NCTRC, which
was founded in 1981, received its fourth five-year continuation
since its initial NCCA Accreditation in 1997. NCTRC serves as
a professional certification organization acting in the public
interest by establishing and enforcing education, examination,
experience and ethics requirements for the therapeutic recreation
profession. Currently, the CTRS designation is represented in
all 50 states and throughout Canada and nine other countries.
renewal of NCCA accreditation for its CTRS Certification Program
by submitting an application demonstrating the program's compliance
with the NCCA's Standards for the Accreditation of Certification
Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute
of Credentialing Excellence (ICE). Since 1987, the
NCCA has been accrediting certifying programs based on the
highest quality standards in professional certification to
ensure that programs adhere to modern standards of practice
in the certification industry. To view the NCCA standards
NCCA accredited programs certify individuals in a wide range
of professions and occupations including nurses, financial
professionals, respiratory therapists, counselors, emergency
technicians, crane operators and more. The NCCA Standards
were created in 1977 and updated in 2003 to ensure certification
programs adhere to modern standards of practice for the certification
industry. NCTRC joins an elite group of more than 120 organizations
representing over 270 programs that have received and maintained
This service includes the review and processing of new applicants
for professional eligibility with NCTRC. NCTRC receives approximately
1,200 new applications for professional eligibility each year.
About 95% of the new applications are received from graduates
with an academic major or option in therapeutic recreation
and within 12 months of the applicant's graduation.
year of the five-year certification cycle, a Certified Therapeutic
Recreation Specialist (CTRS) must submit an annual maintenance
application and fee. The annual maintenance application and
fee are due by the certificant’s expiration date. (i.e.,
either June 30 or December 31).
is required to recertify every five years. In order to recertify,
the CTRS must chose one of two options from the NCTRC Recertification
Components. Option 1: professional work experience in therapeutic
recreation and continuing education credit that is related
to the NCTRC Job Analysis.
Option 2: passing the national certification exam. The CTRS
submits a recertification application to demonstrate completion
of these continuing competence requirements along with the
annual maintenance fee.
CTRSs who have extensive experience and expertise in a given
area of TR/RT practice are eligible to apply for NCTRC Specialty
Certification. The attainment of advanced knowledge and skill
is acquired via several methods including education programs,
training focused upon specific skills or diagnostic populations,
and the successful acquisition of expert skills that have
been mastered over a substantial period of practice. The primary
purpose of NCTRC specialty certification is to acknowledge
the CTRS whose practice has reached an advanced professional
level, and to provide formal recognition of competence beyond
the CTRS credential. Applicants who have met the specific
requirements may apply for specialty certification at any
time during the certification cycle.
NCTRC has offered a national
standardized certification exam for therapeutic recreation
since 1990. NCTRC Exam is based on NCTRC Job Analysis Study
of the Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, that assures the
test specifications and the exam are related to the practice
of therapeutic recreation. Since 1990, NCTRC has tested over
20,000 professionals. About 1,200 candidates sit for the exam
each year as either new applicants for CTRS certification
or to complete CTRS recertification and reentry requirements.
NCTRC provides verification of
CTRS credentials to employers and consumers on a continuous
basis. In addition, NCTRC has an active program to monitor
adherence to the certification standards and to take disciplinary
action as required. Disciplinary and misrepresentation complaints
are received through the employer verification system, by
self-report of certified individuals, and by complaint from
professionals or consumers related to therapeutic recreation
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Recreational therapy is a recognized
human service profession that utilizes recreation involvement
as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery, and
well-being. Recreational therapy has been a recognized form
of health care and human service provision for over four decades.
The Joint Commission defines a Recreational Therapist, Qualified
in the Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals (1995):
qualified. An individual who, at a minimum, is a graduate
of a baccalaureate degree program in recreational therapy
accredited by a nationally recognized accreditation body;
is currently a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
(CTRS) by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation
Certification (NCTRC); meets any current legal requirement
of licensure, registration, or certification; or has the
documented equivalent in education, training and experience
and is currently competent in the field.
In order to obtain CTRS certification, candidates must first
meet minimum educational and experiential requirements and
then pass a computer-based examination. The examination is
administered by an independent, experienced, national testing
service. CTRSs are also required to become recertified every
five years. CTRSs become recertified by accumulating a combination
of work experience, continuing education, and/or retesting.
The NCTRC recertification program was established to ensure
the continued and current competence of therapeutic recreation
As a professional, a recreation therapist needs to demonstrate
to the public (employers and consumers) that s/he has the
knowledge, skill and ability to provide therapeutic recreation
services. NCTRC was awarded federal trademark of the title
"Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist" and
the mark "CTRS" by the United States Patent and
Trademark Office (USPTO). The ability to protect the consumer
is strengthened with USPTO trademark registration. The trademark
registration provides significant legal protection against
unauthorized users of NCTRC's marks. Only those individuals
who meet and maintain adherence to NCTRC certification program
standards are allowed to use the title Certified Therapeutic
Recreation Specialist and the designation: "CTRS".
The CTRS credential is viewed as a strong and viable credential
in healthcare today. The CTRS credential has been developed
and accredited by nationally accepted standards for certifying
agencies. The following specific criteria have established
the CTRS as an accepted and viable healthcare credential:
- NCTRC certification standards are based on the knowledge
and skill necessary for competent practice in the delivery
of recreational therapy services as verified by national
research on the Job Analysis.
- Every CTRS has passed a national certification exam which
has established norms for both validity and reliability.
- Every CTRS completes recertification designed to measure
continued competence to hold the credential.
- Every CTRS complies with NCTRC disciplinary code to retain
the credential. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation
Certification has been the main focal point for addressing
the disciplinary codes for the profession of recreational
Significant strides have been made in refining the Certified
Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential by adding
standardized testing, standards for professional conduct and
continued professional competence. There has also been an
increased emphasis on education of the public regarding meaning
and value of the credential for assuring minimum competence
and quality in the delivery of therapeutic recreation services.
Overall, the value of the CTRS credential has increased significantly
during the past decade.
NCTRC fulfills its mission of protecting the consumer of therapeutic
recreation services through three important functions. First,
NCTRC standards are based on current knowledge and skills
necessary for competent practice and continued competence
in therapeutic recreation. Second, NCTRC evaluates individual
qualifications for certification and recertification through
a comprehensive system of review, verification, and standardized
national testing to assure that each individual awarded the
CTRS has in fact, met the qualifications to hold the credential.
Third, NCTRC monitors adherence to standards to assure that
cases involving potential harm to public health and safety
are investigated fully and that appropriate sanctions of reprimand,
suspension and/or revocation are instituted as needed. NCTRC
standards include education, experience, continuing professional
development, and adherence to principles of appropriate professional
conduct. To assure that NCTRC meets its mission of protecting
the consumer, each CTRS continues to maintain competence for
recreational therapy practice. The CTRS credential is the
designation used to inform the public and consumer of health
care services of the existence of this competence in recreational
therapy. In fact, it is the only national certification designed
to protect the consumer of recreational therapy services.
There are certain measures an employer can take to verify
employee or candidate for employment is certified by NCTRC
as a CTRS. Upon the award of certification and renewal of
certification, each CTRS receives a certificate
and a card. Both of these official documents contain the certificant's
name, certification level, certification expiration date and
certification number. The certification number is a
five-digit ID number issued by NCTRC.
In the realm of professional conduct, the general public,
as well as the consumers of recreational therapy services,
assume professionals operate according to appropriate values
and ethics. Competence, truthfulness, integrity, and professional
appropriateness are expected of all who hold the CTRS credential.
Certain types of conduct are not appropriate for health and
human service professionals in our society. NCTRC insures
that its certificants meet these societal expectations for
health care professionals in recreational therapy.
NCTRC acts as the overseer in the interest of the public.
Its standards and procedures relating to conduct in practice
were developed for the protection of the consumer. NCTRC has
the right to limit or revoke certification credentials when
it finds that a certificant has not complied with required
standards and may pose a threat to the health and safety of
the public. These issues governing the CTRS' behavior are
not unique to the field of recreational therapy but are in
fact representative of conduct standards held by most legitimate
health care professions and are as strong as state licensure
conduct standards. The critical importance that ethics and
conduct matters play in the delivery of competent, effective,
and credible health care services to clients has become more
and more evident over the past twenty years of technological
advancement in the health care industry.
NCTRC's professional conduct standards, coupled with procedures
for implementation, and the development of national peer review
committees, keep the focus of credentialing in recreational
therapy directly on the protection of the consumer of services.
Employers and healthcare agencies
who hire the 12,000 NCTRC certificants can rely on the value
of the CTRS. Employers can also be assured that the CTRS must
adhere to standards of conduct and recertification requirements
for continued professional competence.
The certification program of NCTRC is in harmony with these
current concerns for quality healthcare in the United States.
The emphasis has been, and will continue to be, the health
and safety of the consumer. NCTRC certificants can take pride
in their CTRS credential as an indicator of a health professional
whose first priority is quality service and protection of
considers alleged violations of the NCTRC Certification
Standards a serious offense and encourages all responsible
parties to contact NCTRC with any direct knowledge of CTRS
professional misconduct. Alleged violations of the NCTRC
Certification Standards must be submitted in writing
to the NCTRC Executive Director and should identify the person(s)
alleged to be involved and the facts concerning the alleged
conduct in as much detail and specificity as possible. The
allegations should identify by name, address and telephone
number the person making the information known to NCTRC and
others who may have knowledge of the facts and circumstances
concerning the alleged conduct. Available documentation should
also be provided to the Executive Director and the Executive
Director may request additional information relating to the
content or form of the allegations. Please review the NCTRC
Certification Standards, Part IV: NCTRC Disciplinary Process
for further information.
NCTRC can provide information on whether or not a specific
individual is certified. NCTRC adheres to a strict procedure
when requests for information are received in an effort to
protect the confidentiality of certificant records.
Individuals can access the NCTRC Verification link by going
to the NCTRC Home page and clicking on the “ONLINE VERIFICATION”
button on the bottom of the page. A verification search can
be conducted by listing the individuals name, certification
ID number, or social security number. Certification verification
may also be conducted via phone or mail. An individuals full
name, certification number or social security number is needed
to conduct the verification.
All requests about certification status are handled by NCTRC
Credentialing Specialists, who are certified at the CTRS professional
level and authorized to release the following information
- The certification level, if any, including CTRS status
or professional eligibility.
- Whether or not the certified individual is in good standing
(i.e., not under disciplinary limitation),
- The date certification or professional eligibility was
- The date certification or professional eligibility will
NCTRC will not release information regarding expired or denied
If an employer inquires about the certification status of
an individual against whom NCTRC has issued a final sanction
that currently affects the individual's eligibilty or certification
status, NCTRC will disclose:
- NCTRC rule(s) found to have been violated.
- The date of the finding of the violation.
- The sanction(s) applied against the individual
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K. Thomas, CTRS (2011-2014)
Sharon Nichols, CTRS/L (2012-2015) Vice
Nancy M. McFarlane, CTRS (2013-2016) Treasurer
Janet J. Turner, CTRS (2011-2014) Employer Representative,
Duane "Red" Jensen, Consumer Representative (2012-2015)
L. Belzer, CTRS (2011-2014)
L. Hinton, CTRS (2013-2016)
J. Ramella, CTRS (2013-2016)
Popek-Boeve, CTRS (2012-2015)
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