⚠ COVID-19 INFORMATION: Vaccine Information, Other Resources 

Recreation Therapy Internship

Recreation therapists (RT) provide five hours of programming, seven days a week on the inpatient psychiatric unit. Their scheduled hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with two evenings a month for animal-assisted therapy for inpatients. Recreation therapy is also provided five hours a day in the partial hospitalization program, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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
  • Team building
  • Leisure education
  • Yoga
  • Relaxation group/techniques
  • Problem solving: learning and use of coping skills/tools
  • Animal assisted therapy: two times per month
  • Nutrition
  • Dance and music activities
  • Family RT group: once a week in the partial hospitalization program
  • Wellness groups
  • Games and socialization activities
  • 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
  • A multi-purpose room
  • The Family Life Center, primarily used by children in the partial hospitalization program who have earned the privilege of attending the shows and special activities

Training Provided

  • Comprehensive crisis management
  • Fire safety
  • Infection control
  • Hospital orientation
  • The Joint Commission and 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
  • Weekly one-hour clinical supervision by the program recreation therapist
  • Daily constructive feedback
  • Observations of all the multi-disciplinary programs
  • Increased knowledge of multi-disciplinary team members
  • Opportunity to work 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
  • Community reintegration


  • 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 meetings
  • Attendance at didactics/in-services for educational training
  • Responsibility of carrying a caseload of up to six 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
  • Cleaning 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 an inpatient unit and in a partial hospitalization program. 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 community meetings, lunch and free time.

Lurie Children’s requires interns to complete onsite training in comprehensive crisis management, which provides training on recognizing escalating behavior modification, verbal de-escalation or crisis communication and how to perform physical assistance to keep staff and patients safe from bodily harm.


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.
  • Have a 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: July 15–September 15
Summer Semester: December 1–January 31

The application process requires the submission of a completed application form, cover letter resume, essay questions and three letters of reference (no more than one from a professor). After all of the above, 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:

  • Certification in CPR
  • Submission to Occupational Health of all relevant immunizations and 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

Molly Sliwa, CTRS
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
College Internship Coordinator and Supervisor
Full-time Recreation Therapist on the Inpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit
Received her BS in Recreation Therapy from Indiana University

Delaney Dossey, CTRS
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
Part-Time Recreation Therapist on the Inpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit
Received her BS in Recreation Therapy from University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

Gianna DeLaPiedra, CTRS
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
Full-time Recreation Therapist on the Partial Hospital Program
Received her BS in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Iowa