Recreational Therapy Licensure in New Jersey


[email protected]

Sherry Hurwitz, MA, CTRS/L

ATRA/NCTRC Joint Task Force NJ Representative

Kaylee McGuire, CTRS, CCLS

NJEPA-TRA Secretary & NJ Resident

Mary E. Maina, CTRS

NJEPA-TRA NJ Member-at-Large, Legislative Co-Chair

New Jersey/Eastern Pennsylvania Therapeutic Recreation Association

Fall 2013 Conference

Understand the rationale for Recreational

Therapy Licensure in New Jersey

Understand the legislative process for creating, introducing, and passing a licensure bill

Understand how individuals apply for, receive

& maintain licensure, and report violations

Identify at least 3 ways to support the NJ

Recreational Therapy Licensure Movement

1966: NTRS established, providing state chapters

1981: NCTRC established a reliable, valid, and standardized measurement of professional qualifications: the CTRS exam.

1984: ATRA established

1988: NJEPA-TRA established as a local Chapter of

ATRA, Happy 25 th Anniversary!!!

Discussion amongst key RT players regarding licensure exploration but no formal committee nor record of exploration in NJEPA-TRA records

National Certification

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS)

Regulated by NCTRC and recognized Nationally

Optional (Not Required to practice RT)

Good measure of clinical competency

State Licensure

Regulated by your State Government

Not Optional (REQUIRED to practice RT)

Prevents harm to consumers: ensures that services are

ONLY provided by professionals who demonstrate a standardized clinical competency

Recreational Therapy:

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.

- ATRA (July 2009)

“Treatment Service” is further defined in the ATRA

Standards of Practice as a structured, goal/outcome directed service.

- ATRA SOP (Updated 2013)

ATRA clearly states that Recreational Therapy is only provided by a Certified Therapeutic Recreation



According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are


Recreational Therapists in New Jersey

According to NCTRC, there are


CTRS’s in New Jersey

Therefore, there are at least


unregulated and potentially unqualified practitioners working as

Recreational Therapists in New Jersey

Evidence of Abuse and Neglect gathered by the Joint Task

Force of ATRA and NCTRC

Practitioners with NJ Licenses

Occupational Therapists

Physical Therapists

Athletic Trainers

Massage/Bodywork Therapists

Other Related Practitioners

Art Therapists-their bill is being reviewed in committee

Music Therapists do not have legislation pending

Dance/Movement Therapists are not pursuing licensure

Activity Professionals are not pursuing licensure

Licensure will Require

1) Recreational Therapists applying for Licensure are CTRS

2) Maintain Licensure Dues, Standards, CEU’s, Ethics, etc.

In Licensed states, if you practice Recreational Therapy you MUST apply for a license.

Obtaining License: Submit an application to the state’s RT Advisory Council-Division of Consumer

Affairs & pay an application fee.

Maintain License: Maintain qualifications (CEU’s) and professional conduct as outlined in the rules of the law.

Reporting Complaints/Violations: Reports are filed to the Advisory Council for investigation and possible legal repercussions (such as unlicensed practice, misconduct, incompetence, fraud, abuse, etc.)

New York

Strong Licensure Committee made up of key state players

Actively seeking Licensure for the past 7 years

Has a Licensure Bill actively going through legislation


Strong Licensure Committee made up of key state players

Acquired a State Representative Sponsor, John Sabatina

Looking to compose a Licensure Bill


Forming a Licensure Committee

2 Houses in NJ: Senate & General Assembly

40 Districts (Currently Democrats rule both Houses)

Each District elects:

1 Senator (4 yr term)-President of the Senate is leader

2 General Assembly Members (2 yr term)-Speaker of the Assembly

2-year Legislative Term

Unfinished business in year one moves to year 2

Unfinished business at end of year 2, expires

Reference Committees: to review legislation, discuss merit, public comment at meetings









Form a NJ Licensure Committee

Conduct a NJ Licensure Survey to gauge support and interest of NJ Recreational Therapists

Form alliances with Legislators to sponsor a Licensure Bill

Draft a Licensure Bill & associated Rules/Regulations

Sponsors introduce the Licensure Bill to either House

Licensure Bill may be referred to a committee for further review and editing

Licensure Bill must pass a majority vote in both Houses

NJ Governor has the final vote and may either conditionally veto the act, veto absolutely, or sign and pass the act into law

We are forming a NJ Licensure Committee

NJEPA-TRA leading the efforts with their Legislative

Committee members

Key RT Players in New Jersey:

NJRPA Liaison for Recreational Therapy

Kean and Temple RT Professors and Students

Sherry Hurwitz volunteered as our NJ Liaison to the Joint Task

Force from NCTRC and ATRA

Looking for Seasoned and Motivated NJ RT professionals from large NJ employers (Children’s Specialized Hospital,

Genesis Healthcare, JFK, Kessler Rehabilitation, Voorhees

Pediatric Facility, VA Hospitals, St. Barnabas, etc.)

We are Polling NJ Recreational Therapists

Survey began this fall (Still open till 10/31)

Sent out via Email Blast, Facebook, and NJEPA-TRA newsletter

Over 120 respondents to date

Majority are supportive but not willing to volunteer

Many responses have common misconceptions about Licensure

Are you currently a Certified Therapeutic Recreation

Specialist (CTRS) & work in New Jersey?

YES, 81%

Not now but have in the past, 6.5%

No, 7.4%

What best describes the RT setting you work in?

Long term care/skilled nursing facility/assisted living/dementia care/residential care/personal care, 33.3%

PM&R, 17.6%

Psychiatric hospital/chemical dependency, 13.9%

Do you support RT Licensure in NJ?

Yes, 79.6%

No, 3.7%

Not sure, 16.7% (Needs education)

I support the concept that only individuals who are

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS) should be eligible for Recreational Therapy licensure:

YES, 97.2%

No, 2.8%

I am willing to help campaign/volunteer:

Yes, 30.6%



There is enough positive support for starting the NJ

Recreational Therapy Licensure process but we need volunteers to join the NJ Licensure Committee and to educate

NJ Recreational Therapists regarding facts of licensure.

Do you or anyone close to you have Political Connections?

Does your facility have Political Connections or Influence?

Who has supported our clientele in past issues?

Find out who represents you in the NJ Government

Senators : 1 for each of the 40 Districts

Assembly Members: 2 for each of the 40 Districts (80)

They are here to serve us, so we need to put them to work!

Use of other State RT Laws

Review of other NJ Health Professional Licensing laws

(Scopes of practice may overlap among disciplines)

Defines terms and general scope of practice

Rules and Regulations sets standards for:




Continuing education


Recreational Therapy Advisory Council-Division of Consumer Affairs

May contain rules regarding Assessment and Documentation

Joint Task Force Website coming soon!

NJEPA-TRA to get the word out there:

Hold sessions at conferences

Provide Information on Website, Email Blasts, Newsletters,

Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Share your handout from today’s session!

Tell a co-worker, friend, colleague, classmate, etc.!

Reached out to Debbie Hommel, NJ State Rep for NCCAP

Reaching out to other Professional Colleagues

(OT, PT, SLP, MT, Art, Massage, etc.)

Collaborating with NJPRA through Dina Trunzo

Talk with your co-workers from other disciplines and your supervisors to get the word out there and build alliances!

Are your clients receiving quality services?

Make sure you are effectively providing RT services

Use the APIE process

Track your outcomes

Clinical observation & appraisal

Review the Revised ATRA Standards of Practice

Your QUALIFIED services provide direct appraisal of

RECREATIONAL THERAPY so Share your Successes!

Is Licensure about getting reimbursement for services?

No. Licensure is about protecting consumers. Licensure however may provide an avenue in which stakeholders may pay attention to licensed, qualified providers.

Do professionals have to pay for their license?

Yes. There are fees associated with applying and maintaining your license that all licensed professionals are expected to pay.

Is licensure sought to increase respect towards professionals?

No. Licensure is sought to protect consumers by mandating the use of qualified provider. Professional respect may be an indirect outcome of licensure due to licensed professionals providing quality services.

Will I have to take an exam to become a Licensed

Recreational Therapist in New Jersey?

Most RT Licensure laws require passing a competency exam; current RT Licensure laws accept the NCTRC exam.

Do Licensed Recreational Therapists have to work a certain number of hours per week?

No. A license only qualifies you to practice Recreational

Therapy-it is a credential.

Why do we need a License if we are a CTRS?

A CTRS is the benchmark credential in our field, however there is no STATE LAW or REGULATION that requires a qualified professional to provide “Recreational Therapy”.

Is Licensure designed to protect my job, take jobs from other fields, and increase jobs for other RT’s?

Absolutely not. Licensure is to protect the consumer.

Recreational Therapy Licensure mandates that anyone providing “Recreational Therapy” is the most qualified provider of those services-they must meet the standards outlined in the law.

If the RT Licensure Act is passed into law, will obtaining a license be optional if I work as a Recreational Therapist?

No. Anyone providing Recreational Therapy services are

REQUIRED to hold a license if mandated by state law.

Are we only seeking licensure in New Jersey because

NCTRC and ATRA are forcing us to?

NCTRC and ATRA are not forcing any state to do anything. NCTRC and ATRA have created a joint task force to support any state that expresses an interest in pursuing licensure. Individual states must collaborate with each other to provide support/guidance and to insure reciprocity amongst laws and regulations.