License and Certification

Recreational Therapy Licensure in North Carolina

During the 2005 legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly amended the Therapeutic Recreation Personnel Certification Act (Chapter 90-C). Effective October 5, 2005 North Carolina became the second state in the nation to license individuals to provide recreational therapy services. The purpose of the Recreational Therapy Licensure Act is “to safeguard the health and safety of the public and to protect the public from harm by unqualified persons by establishing a minimum level of education, experience, and competence to assure the highest degree of professional care and conduct on the part of licensed recreational therapists and licensed recreational therapy assistants”.

To comply with North Carolina law, persons providing recreational therapy services in the state must possess the North Carolina license. Individuals who are nationally certified as therapeutic recreation specialists must also possess the state license in order to practice in the state. Being nationally certified as a CTRS does not satisfy the North Carolina law.

For answers to FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about licensure, please, read below.

For information about the law and application procedures contact:

North Carolina Board of Recreational Therapy Licensure (NCBRTL)
P.O. Box 67
Saxapahaw, NC 27340
Phone: 336-212-1133
Email NC BRTL using the contact form.
Web site:

National Therapeutic Recreation Certification

Established in 1981, the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) grants certification credentials of "Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist" and "CTRS" and "Certified Therapeutic Recreation Assistant," and "CTRA." to qualified applicants meeting certification requirements.  Each of these credentials are trademarks owned by NCTRC and unauthorized use is prohibited.  While national certification is not mandatory, the credential has been identified by health care accrediting organizations and governmental regulatory groups to designate "qualified" professionals.  For more information and certification materials/applications, please contact:  

    7 Elmwood Drive
    New City, NY 10956   

North Carolina Board of Recreational Therapy Licensure

How do I, as a licensed recreational therapist, provide supervision to a licensed recreational therapy assistant?

First and foremost, review and follow the responsibilities and requirements outlined in Rules .0204, .0205 and the ATRA Standards of Practice for supervision of the LRTA. The LRTA will be required to submit the LRTA Supervision Form with their renewal application.

I graduated some years ago and am NCTRC Certified, do I need to complete the Internship Performance Form?

Yes, Licensure is not considered reciprocal with certification therefore all requirements stated in the North Carolina law (GS Chapter 90C) must be met. The Internship Performance Form documents that, in your internship supervisor’s judgment, you are competent to practice as a recreational therapist.

Do I need to list all the courses on the application if they are on my transcripts?

Yes, this helps the Board to complete the review in a timely manner.

Is it ok if my transcripts are sent directly from my school? Also, can my internship supervisor mail in the Intern Performance Form separately?

Yes, but please send the additional documentation required (i.e., marriage certificate etc) if your name has changed.

I attended a Community College and had courses transferred that are stated on my transcripts, do I need to enclose those transcripts?

Yes, all transcripts must be included.

What kind of photo is required?

The photo needs to be a recent color head and shoulders photo. This requirement is for your identity protection so we just need to be able to identify you if necessary. It can be a snap shot or a color copy of your Drivers License or Human Resources picture.

I am from out of state and can not find my Internship Supervisor, what do I do?

The Board will consider your application with a written letter of request and completion of Internship Supervisor Appeals Form. This form must be notarized and can be found at

May I request inactive status while I am TRCB certified, before seeking licensure by the “grandfather clause”?

No, TRCB no longer exists so no actions from the former state certification process can be granted.

Since the “grandfather clause” is good until January 15, 2008, can I wait until then to obtain Licensure?

Although the “grandfather clause” is effective until then, you must be currently TRCB certified to be eligible so you must apply while your TRCB certification is still current. So carefully check your TRCB expiration date!

I allowed my North Carolina Certification to expire, am I still eligible for “grandfathering” into licensure?

No, the “grandfather clause” (GS Chapter 90C Section 4) is only for those who are currently certified by TRCB (or listed as Inactive with TRCB as of October 5, 2005). The “grandfather clause” expires January 15, 2008.

Do I have to take a North Carolina exam or retake the NCTRC exam?

No, there is not a separate North Carolina exam. We accept a copy of your NCTRC Certificate or your successful passage notification as proof of passing the NCTRC Exam.

I received my degree before completing an internship was a requirement? Will my years of experience count?

No, the internship must be completed under supervision of a LRT (or a NCTRC CTRS until January 15, 2008) and documented on a college/university transcript.

What if I do not have the required supportive coursework?

Many North Carolina universities and community colleges offer the necessary coursework and some offer distance education or on-line courses. A license can’t be issued until the requirements for licensure are met.

What are considered Health and Human Services Courses to meet the LRT/LRTA course requirement?

The courses that should be used to meet support content requirements are those that are useful to practice as a recreational therapist. For example, kinesiology or biomechanics, counseling or helping skills, motor learning, educational or cognitive psychology, psychology of adjustment, pharmacology, first aid and safety and courses in various aspects of health care (e.g. rehabilitation, mental health, legal aspects of health care, health care organization and delivery, etc.) are particularly helpful to the practice of recreational therapy in clinical settings and are recommended as support content courses. Courses such as: Sociology, Rehabilitation, Medical Terminology, Gerontology, General Psychology, Special Education are nonexclusive recommendations.

What are the requirements for licensure?

-Graduation from an accredited college or university with a baccalaureate degree or higher and with a major or specialization in recreational therapy or therapeutic recreation. An academic major is defined as a degree in recreational therapy or therapeutic recreation. A specialization in recreational therapy or therapeutic recreation is defined as a degree in recreation and leisure studies, or recreation, or health and physical education, or health and human performance with a specialization, also known as an option, emphasis or concentration, in therapeutic recreation or recreational therapy.

Required courses include:

  • 3 RT/TR Content Courses
  • 4 RT/ TR Content Courses (Dec 15, 2006)
  • 5 RT/TR Content Courses (July 15, 2010)
  • 3 Semester Hours Abnormal Psychology
  • 3 Semester Hours Anatomy & Physiology
  • 3 Semester Hours Human Growth & Development over life span
  • 9 Semester Hours Health and Human Services

Completion of a minimum 480 Hour Internship under an LRT or (until Jan 15, 2008) TRS or CTRS Internship dates including the month, day and year must be documented on the application.

An applicant for licensure at the recreational therapy assistant level must provide evidence of:

Successful completion of an Associate of Applied Science Degree in therapeutic recreation or recreational therapy from a community college

Required courses include:

  • 9 semester hours in RT/TR content courses;
  • 10 semester hours in RT/TR interventions and laboratory;
  • 15 semester hours of supportive coursework including at least one course from three of the following areas: psychology, sociology, physical and biological science, human services and physical education courses;

Completion of a minimum 380 hour field placement experience in a clinical, residential, or community-based agency under the supervision of a Licensed Recreational Therapist or Licensed Recreational Therapy Assistant. The field placement must be a minimum of 10 consecutive weeks with each week including a minimum of 20 hours;

How long does the licensure process take?

The deadline for submission of applications is a postmark date of the 15th of each month. The Board meets to review applications within two weeks after the deadline date. If your application is incomplete for any reason, you will be contacted for corrections/additions etc. Your application will be considered “open” for 60 days to make these corrections. After 60 days, your application will be considered closed and a new application and fees will need to be submitted. THE BOARD WILL NOT REVIEW INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS.

Will my employer require licensure?

Yes, unless you are an exempt federal employee, the law in North Carolina requires individuals practicing as recreational therapists or recreational therapy assistants be licensed.

What are the penalties if someone practices recreational therapy/therapeutic recreation without being licensed?

The state licensing board can apply for a restraining order or an injunction to prevent continued violations of the law and can pursue action in civil court for a class 1 misdemeanor for misrepresentation of a license to practice recreational therapy or for practicing recreational therapy without a license. The licensing board can issue sanctions and penalties and may require remedial education, issue a letter of reprimand or restrict, revoke, suspend or deny any license if the board determines the licensee violated any provisions of Chapter 90C.

How is licensure in NC different from or similar to national certification? 

State licensure regulates recreational therapy practice (according to definitions found in G. S. Chapter 90C) to protect the public from harm.
National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCRTC) owns the trademark of the title “CTRS” and monitors the use of this title. NCTRC administers an examination to assess minimal competency to use the title CTRS.

How is professional credentialing different in NC than in other states?

Most states do not have state regulations related to certification or licensure but employers require national certification through NCTRC. Utah and New Hampshire have state licensure and Washington has state registration for recreational therapists. Application must be made to each individual state. Information concerning the other states can be found at the websites listed below:


New Hampshire


Why is licensure important?

Licensure allows for protection of the consumer by ensuring competency standards have been meet in order to practice recreational therapy in North Carolina. Licensure monitors the practice of recreational therapy rather than primarily monitoring the job title as the former certification law did.