Recreation Therapy Service - South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)
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South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)

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Recreation Therapy Service

A VA patient is petting a therapy dog Two patients are sitting at an art table painting a door A group of three riders on bicycles are climbing to the top of a hill 


What is Recreation Therapy?

Recreation therapy is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being. Recreation therapy means a treatment service designed to restore, remediate and rehabilitate a person's level of functioning and independence in life activities, to promote health and wellness as well as reduce or eliminate the activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by an illness or disabling condition.

    Listen to Mr. Jose Laguna, South Texas VA Recreation Therapist and Coach talk about the role Recreation Therapy plays in a Veterans treatment plan.                 


What do Recreation Therapists and Recreation Assistants do?

Recreation Therapists and Recreation Assistants utilize a wide range of activity and community-based interventions and techniques to improve the cognitive, emotional, social, and leisure needs of their clients. Recreation Therapists and Assistants help clients to develop skills, knowledge and behaviors for daily living and community involvement. The therapist works with the client and their family to incorporate specific interests and community resources into therapy to achieve optimal outcomes that transfer to their real life situation.

Why is Recreation Therapy important for Veterans?

Research supports the concept that people with active, satisfying lifestyles will be happier and healthier. Recreation therapy provides services which are based on the individuals' interests and lifestyle and allows them to better engage in therapy and apply these functional improvements to all areas of their life. Ultimately, it allows them to generalize their therapeutic outcomes to their life after the healthcare team is no longer involved resulting in greater health maintenance over time. Recreation therapy aims to improve an individual's functioning and keep them as active, healthy and independent as possible in their chosen life pursuits.

Where can you find Recreation Therapists and Recreation Assistants?

Locations of South Texas Recreation Therapists
Community Living Center Kerrville Transitional Care
Domiciliary Residential Rehab Treatment Program MOVE!
Domiciliary Substance Abuse Treatment Program Spinal Cord Injury Center
Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program Inpatient Mental Health
Psychosocial Rehabilitation & Recovery Center Telehealth
Home Based Primary Care/Medical Foster Home Polytrauma Rehab Center


How are Recreation Therapy services recognized?

Recreation therapists are standard treatment team members in rehabilitation services. Recreation Therapy is listed as a rehabilitation therapy service  in the Joint Commission (TJC) standards. In addition, recreation therapists are designated as treatment team members (based upon need) in the acute brain injury, the post acute brain injury, and the inpatient rehabilitation standards of the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) includes recreation therapy in the mix of treatment and rehabilitation services used to determine Federal compliance in skilled nursing, rehabilitation (physical and psychiatric) and long-term care facilities. Therapeutic Recreation is specifically indicated as a Related Service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A few states regulate this profession through licensure, certification, registration or regulation of titles.

What are Recreation Therapy outcomes?

Current research indicates a significant number of positive health outcomes and improvements resulting from participation in recreation therapy programs: 

  • Physical health status
  • Psychosocial status
  • cognitive status
  • Life, recreation and community activities

What are a Recreation Therapist's Education, Qualifications and Credentials?

Recreation Therapists are certified through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification  (NCTRC), which requires a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited university, a formal internship and the passing of a national certification examination. A Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) must maintain their credential every five years through the NCTRC recertification process. Academic programs in Therapeutic Recreation or Recreation Therapy emphasize course work in the physical, biological and behavioral sciences and recreation and leisure theory.


  1. American Therapeutic RecreationAssociation (ATRA)
  2. National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC)

Contact Info


  • Recreation Therapy Service Room 102B
    Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital
    7400 Merton Minter Blvd, San Antonio 78229

Contact Number(s)

  • 210-617-5300

Hours of Operation

  • Mon - Fri 7:30 - 4:30 p.m.