Overview of CTRAC

The Consortium for Therapeutic Recreation/Activities Certification, Inc. is the credentialing body for people working in therapeutic recreational activity programs and who seek certification.  CTRAC certifies people in Texas.  One of the founders of the voluntary certification process in Texas was also instrumental in developing the certification process in California, Dr. Jean R. Tague.

In 1995, Dr. Tague, Dr. Jackie Vaughan, Randy Waters (then President of the Texas Recreation and Parks Society’s Therapeutic Recreation Branch) and several other interested professionals in the field began conduct conversations and gathering information regarding the interests of their colleagues in developing a certification program in Texas.  At this point in time the California program was about fifteen or twenty years old, Georgia had a licensure program, Utah had licensure, North Carolina had “title protection” and several other states were exploring their professionals ideas regarding state certification programs.  The idea of a state voluntary program of certification was to serve several purposes.

  1. The national certification program NCTRC (National Council of Therapeutic Recreation Certification) was phasing out the certification program for the paraprofessional level of certification, CTRA (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Associates) – graduates of 720 hour training programs and/or graduates  with an Associate Degree in the field of recreation with a specialty in TR or an Associate Degree in TR.
  2. Licensure must be acquired on a state by state basis, state certification is the first step toward licensure.

A Task Force was developed in 1995 to study the issue.  In 1996, the TRAPS Therapeutic Recreation Branch (TRB) at a board meeting voted to provide supportive funds to establish a certification plan in Texas that would provide three levels of certification: the therapeutic recreation specialist level, the therapeutic recreation associate level and an activity director in long term care level.

Dr. Tague, Dr. Vaughan and others traveled around the state speaking at conferences, workshops, etc. sharing information about this movement toward a voluntary certification plan for Texans.  Everywhere they went (I traveled some with them) the idea was met with a mixture of support and stones.  There were those people who were threatened with the idea of certifying/credentialing paraprofessionals.  There was a fear that the AD’s would end up replacing the TRS.  On the other side, the AD’s were also afraid that the TR’s would take over the recreational activity business in long term care.  It was a very exciting time.

Coupled with the paranoia were several confrontations from national certifying bodies.  NCTRC, needless to say, was threatened and made several threats to the leaders in Texas.  The National Association of Activity Professionals and the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals also made threats.  But the movement continued.

Feelers were sent out across the state for any interested parties who wanted to serve on the first board of directors to submit their resumes.  The TRB Board selected the initial board for what was then called The Texas Board for Therapeutic Recreation/Activity Certification.  This name was later changed to the Consortium for Therapeutic Recreation/Activities Certification so as not to confuse anyone that the agency was a part of the State of Texas government regulatory agency.

The first board met in Austin at St. David’s Hospital in November of 1996.

At the first meeting a strategic plan was developed and time lines were set to put in motion the current certification program.  Also at this meeting officers were elected among the board member present.  Board members drew lots to determine whether each would serve one, two or three years.  There was a concern if all the board turned over at the same time that continuity would be difficult to maintain.

The following goals were set:

  • Establish a franchise, become incorporated. Develop the by-laws, set-up a bank account, contact a franchise lawyer and become incorporated with the state.
  • Appoint a consumer board member and two “At Large” board members.
  • Make committee assignments, establish working committees:
    1. develop fact sheets and applications, establish the dates for the beginning and ending of the grandparent period (done)
    2. make contact with the colleges and universities in Texas, determine what therapeutic recreational courses and LTC activity courses are being taught and by whom (always a work in progress)
    3. develop database of professional and paraprofessionals in Texas (done)
    4. arrange for educational sessions at conferences to spread the word re:  certification (still on-going, will always be needed)
    5. check on web sites, establish one
    6. develop a curriculum for LTC activity directors that follows classic TR guidelines, train instructors, assist these instructors in placements around Texas to teach the AD classes; seek approval from the various interested parties for this–THCA, TASHA, DHS, etc. (done)
    7. develop a liaison with California to purchase their exam for TRS level applicants, develop the exam for the AD and TRA level exams (done)
    8. develop the nominations procedures for election of new board members (done)
    9. establish a unified internship method of assessment (we are still working on this-it is one of these goals that has not yet been achieved) for student graduating with a BS in TR
    10. establish a site for the certification board office (done, it was at Dr. Tague’s home in Austing until March of 2000; at that time it was moved to the current location.  Jean’s illness began to curtail much of her duties as Executive Director in the fall of 1999 and then actively progressing in the spring of 2000 with the return of her cancer.  Jean died in October of 2000.  Pamela Sander was appointed Executive Secretary in March of 2000 at a board meeting following the TR Symposium in Dallas.)

Since this first strategic planning session, most of the goals have been accomplished and several others have been set.  We have a newsletter that has been published and mailed to our certificate holders four times a year.  The board established The Jean R. Tague Memorial Stipends for the purpose of providing funding to qualified certificate holders for the purpose of continuing education in September, 2000.

We made overtures to DHS to be included as a recognized credentialing body in Texas with NCTRC and NCCAP in the requirements that relate to recreational activity programs in all facets of LTC.  A formal request was presented.  This goal was accomplished in 2001.

We have established criteria for an approval process to grant continuing education units to people who seek our approval.  One group is a national company providing continuing education to the therapy areas in health care.  As a result our approval is printed in their advertisements and has stimulated contact from some TR’s all over the country.

We have sought and received approval from DHS, THCA and TAHSA for the curriculum we have developed for AD’s in their Basic Education courses and for the Advanced Management courses.  We have established through the virtual college of Texas coursework in therapeutic recreation – six hours of college credit.  We made this a requirement for our AD certificate holders with the intention of upgrading the activity programs in LTC facilities in Texas.  Dr. Lynn Beaman at Austin Community College has been instrumental in developing these classes.  One of the original board members, Liz Salinas is the on-line instructor.  She has students from all over Texas.

We have developed a reciprocal agreement with the state of California.  All of our TRS certificate holders are also considered certified in California, and vice versa.  Already one Texas certificate holder has taken advantage of this agreement.  To date, three people holding California certificates have taken advantage of this agreement as have two Texas certificate holders in California.  In California, there is a practice act.  Anyone who presents himself/herself as a TRS must be certified by the California credentialing board.

We have revised our by-laws in September, 2000, to establish the regular meeting dates of the board, a Credential Review Panel to meet prior to the board meetings to review applications and make recommendations, reporting to the board.  These three people are not board members but represent the certificate holders.  The chair of this committee is from academia.

There are currently over 1200 people who have chosen to certify in Texas.