Recreation Therapy Internship

The Recreation Therapy Internship training experience takes place within The Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health involving rotations on the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit (IPU), Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Here at Lurie Children’s, we offer and require our interns to complete a 16 week internship, totaling 480 hours, while supervised directly by a CTRS. The experience meets all standards set by the National Council on Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).


Modalities Implemented

Patients are assessed and provided treatment to improve socialization, leisure functioning and community reintegration. Based on the specific needs of the patients, the following programs are developed and implemented:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Physical fitness/education and nutrition
  • Team building
  • Sensory simulation
  • Leisure education
  • Feelins identification and expression
  • Mindfulness and relaxation group/techniques
  • Problem solving: learning and use of coping skills/tools
  • Animal assisted therapy: two times per month
  • Dance and music activities
  • Games and socialization activities
  • Bibliotherapy
  • Other programs as deemed therapeutic to meet the needs of the patients

The facilities that are available for Recreation Therapy to assist in creating a therapeutic learning environment are:

  • Two extensive art/activity rooms
  • A room for sensory stimulation, yoga and free time
  • Three group therapy/multi-purpose rooms
  • Virtual adaptations

Training Provided

  • Comprehensive crisis management
  • Fire safety
  • Infection and prevention control
  • Hospital orientation
  • The Joint Commission, ATRA standards and documentation requirements
  • Development of program plans based on the three treatment areas; socialization, leisure education and community reintegration
  • Facilitation/group leadership techniques
  • Daily constructive feedback and weekly one-hour clinical supervision by the program Recreation Therapist
  • Increased knowledge of the roles of multi-disciplinary team members along with observing program group sessions
  • Opportunity to work alongside other disciplinaries who collaborate with outside agencies: Department of Child and Family Services, Screening Assessment for Social Services, community mental health workers, schools, and community recreation facilities
  • Educational training/in-services that provide information on current trends related to patients’ treatment
  • Training in Epic Systems Corporation 
  • Recreation Therapy specific documentation/The Leisure Ability 
  • Community reintegration and discharge planning


  • Facilitation of a minimum of two RT groups daily that address patients’ needs
  • Implementation of behavior modification programs as developed conjointly with the multidisciplinary team
  • Attendance and participation in daily rounds and treatment team meetings with the multi-disciplinary team
  • Attendance and participation in treatment team meeting and in-services for educational training
  • Responsibility of carrying a caseload of up to ten patients for documentation; initial assessments, reassessments, treatment goals, interventions, progress notes, and discharge planning/community referrals following the Joint Commission and ATRA standards of care
  • Disinfection and sanitation of supplies for all activity rooms, especially after facilitating a group
  • Provision of a safe environment for staff and children
  • Completion of a quality internship project in consultation with supervisor, meeting scheduled deadlines
  • Completion of all other university requirements in a timely manner
  • Follow-through on tasks assigned by the Recreation Therapist
  • Adherence to the personal and professional development criteria as identified in the Therapeutic Recreation Intern Evaluation developed by The American Therapeutic Recreation Association
  • Ability to work one weekend and a minimum of four evenings when assigned to the inpatient unit

Adaptability is an important quality when working on Intensive Psychiatric Units. All staff members and trainees are expected to be flexible with the schedule to maintain a safe and therapeutic environment for the patients. Recreation Therapy interns not only facilitate RT groups; they also participate with staff in rounds, staffing, community meetings and free time.

Lurie Children’s requires interns to complete onsite training in Comprehensive Crisis Management (CCM). CCM was created to provide staff with information, skills, and knowledge on how to interact when an individual is in a state of crisis. Training will include instructing staff in both verbal and physical crisis intervention. 

Academic Requirements

To be eligible to apply for a recreation therapy internship, the following criteria must be met:

  • Student must be enrolled in an accredited university/college in recreation therapy or therapeutic recreation.
  • All coursework must be completed.
  • Current contract between the university/college and the hospital on file, or the university/college must be ready to contract with the hospital if the student is accepted.
  • Ability to provide proof of liability insurance in writing once accepted.

When the above requirements are met, the student may then apply. Applications will be accepted at the following times:

Fall Semester: March 1–April 30
Spring Semester: August 1–September 30
Summer Semester: December 1–January 31

The application process requires the submission of a completed application form which includes essay questions, cover letter, resume, and three letters of reference (no more than one from a professor). After the above items are submitted and reviewed by the Recreation Therapy team, an interview will be scheduled.

Click here to apply

If the applicant is accepted for the RT internship, the program recreation therapist sends a packet of information to help assist the student in preparing for the internship experience. In addition, the student’s responsibilities prior to starting are as follows:

  • CPR Certification obtained from American Heart Association 
  • Submission to Employee Health of all relevant and required immunizations including Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella, Tdap, COVID, the Influenza vaccine (during flu season) and a completion of a two-step TB test.
  • Review of all psychology and recreation therapy courses taken is strongly recommended.
  • Submission of a copy of the university’s internship manual to the program recreation therapist is also required.

Program Recreation Therapists

Nicole Taylor, CTRS 
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
College Internship Coordinator and Supervisor
Full-time Recreation Therapist on the Partial Hospitalization Program
Received BS in Recreation Therapy from Southern Illinois University Carbondale  

Alexis Bell, CTRS (she/her)
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
Full-time Recreation Therapist on the Inpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit 
Received MS in Recreation Therapy from Temple University  

Morgan Retzer, CTRS (she/her) 
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
Part-Time Recreation Therapist on the Inpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit
Received BS in Recreation Therapy from Eastern Illinois University 

Kai Treston, CTRS (she/her) 
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
Part-Time Recreation Therapist on the Intensive Outpatient Program
Received BS in Recreation Therapy from University of Iowa 


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