Private Practice Recreational Therapy: The Future of RT?

Have you ever considered private practice Recreational Therapy? Depending on your area, it may not be a full time venture, but having a couple private practice clients can be a great side hustle. And really, what Recreation Therapist doesn’t need a little extra money?

I recently connected with Jeanne Hastings, creator of the My Recreation Therapist page devoted to connecting eager Recreation Therapists with consumers in need. Her website allows Recreation Therapists to sign up as available practitioners for a modest, initial fee so those searching for private practice Recreational Therapy services have a central location to find help. It’s a great idea having the potential to revolutionize the way we provide services.

This inspiring and informative interview highlights the benefits of subscribing to her page and gives insights into the relatively untapped option of private practice Recreational Therapy.

If you are willing to change your perspectives about delivering RT services, this is what you need to read.

With us all working as a team, we can enter a whole new virtually untouched billion dollar in-home health industry and take control of the direction and validity of our profession.–Jeanne Hastings

TRRT: What inspired you to create My Recreation Therapist?

Jeanne Hastings: My mother battled Alzheimer’s Disease throughout the last 10 years of her life. Due to life circumstances, I became her full-time caregiver. This gave me the opportunity to begin my work developing my own private practice providing in-home recreational therapy. I designed my entire practice and eventual company around the care of my mother. Because I utilized Recreational Therapy as a treatment modality for my mother, she was able to enjoy a high quality of life while battling a horrific disease. She was able to live at home her entire life and remain engaged in society with daily mental, physical, emotional, and socially planned RT/TR programs.

I developed a caseload of 7 clients and continued my private practice for an additional two years after her death.

During this time, I found the greatest barrier when building a caseload was educating our consumers about Recreational Therapy. I found we were a well-known professional discipline within the institutional settings but virtually unknown as a service in the private sector. That is when I began developing (MYRT). I wanted a website that would not only provide a resource to educate the public about our profession, but to also provide a central location where consumers can find and hire their own private CTRS or LRT all over the world.

I also developed the website as a tool to funnel consumers needing our services to a central location where therapists creating their own private practice can find and engage consumers.

Throughout my career as a Recreational Therapist, I found many agencies I worked for had a misconception of RT. Instead of being able to exercise my professional skills as a therapist, I found that I was directed to work more as a diversional activities director. My clinical skills were going to waste providing only TR programs.

Although TR is a huge component to our profession, my skills as a therapist were not always utilized or respected. This was another reason why I felt our field needed this service. It was an opportunity for us as a profession to exercise our skills as professionally trained certified and licensed clinicians and take control of the direction of our profession.

After signing up as a Therapist for My Recreation Therapist, what can an RT expect?

Once a therapist signs up, they have the opportunity to build their profile. In this profile they can add pictures, contact information, bio’s, links to their websites, links to YouTube videos, LinkedIn site, and information about their special skills and experiences. The goal: to attract consumers to contact them.  

Once they sign up, they can search our ever-growing database of consumers. They will be able to search by city, state, province and country. They can utilize the website as a hotlink to educate and market our profession and help funnel the consumers directly to services they need.

The RT uses the website as a tool to acquire clients and develop their own private practice. My Recreation will never profit or interfere with their private practice. They can build their company as a full time service or just engage a couple of clients to supplement their income. It is completely up to them.

RTs pay $49.95 for a lifetime membership. They will never be charged again for the use of the website and will be able to use it as they see fit to build their private practice. The only way to lose their membership is if they allow their professional credentials to expire or be revoked.  They may also lose their privileges if they violate the terms of agreement.

We are currently reaching consumers in the US, Canada, and Spain. As part of the membership, the therapists are assured that My Recreation Therapists will engage in marketing our profession and the website on a daily basis to ensure the continued growth of the consumer database. With the added marketing efforts of each therapist, we will become a team of educators and marketers promoting our profession and progressing our clinical skills in new directions.

To entice potential consumers, there is no charge for consumers to join MYRT.

What are the expectations for registered therapists on your site?

It is expected the therapists utilize this website as a tool to find and engage consumers for the purpose of building their private practice. I also envision all RTs refer their consumers to the website as a discharge plan intervention so that they can continue to engage in recreation therapy upon discharge from their services.

I would expect therapists to share the link to the website to educate society about our profession.

I would also like them to share information regarding Recreational Therapy posted on the My Recreation Therapist Facebook page throughout social media to educate the world about our profession.

Also, I expect fellow colleagues to promote all efforts of entrepreneurs in the field of TR/RT. With us all working as a team, we can enter a whole new virtually untouched billion dollar in-home health industry and take control of the direction and validity of our profession. As we do this together, doors to future opportunities will open.

Do you have any advice for those thinking about private practice Recreational Therapy?

Start with one.  Build your services around that one client.  Don’t leave your day job until your business is off the ground. Once you have one and you are ready to take on more then go ahead and take on more.

Do not invest a lot of money.  You will need a business license that you can get at your local city hall. Mine cost $20.00.

I recommend getting liability insurance.  With the license and insurance, your personal belongings are protected if you ever find yourself in legal trouble.

I also recommend getting a PO Box to post in your profile as a contact address. This will protect your privacy. Another way to protect your privacy is using your cell phone as a contact number rather than your landline.

Do your initial assessment on the phone. You will be able to tell if you can help the person before even meeting them.  Meet in a public place for the second assessment and before going to someone’s house. Be sure you tell someone where you are going and who you are meeting.

Try to think of yourself as more of a TR case manager.  You will not be providing hours upon hours of one-on-one Recreation Therapy. I utilize the entire “team” when developing a client’s RT/TR monthly programs. By “team” I mean the consumer, their caregivers, family members, friends, neighbors, doctors, nurses and anyone else involved in care of the individual.  

As interventions, I utilize all of the individual’s resources at home and in the community.  There are community centers, adult day services, organizations, camps, malls, parks, pools, etc. I manage their recreational lifestyle with therapeutic interventions. Yes, one-to-one is provided, but mainly I am assessing, developing the treatment plan, and implementing the plan to meet a client’s needs on a broader spectrum.  Each case is different with different needs and resources. I always assess the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of the individual and then utilize RT and TR to meet their individual goals.

I charge the clients on a sliding scale based on services and ability to pay.  I also have a plan in place if they refer a client. I deduct $5.00 from their hourly rate with a good referral. Word of mouth is a great resource to build your caseload. Money is a great motivator to encourage clients to help you find more clients.

When your caseload builds, you can hire TR grads and professionals to conduct treatment plans you develop and supervise.  For example, you charge the client $30.00 an hour for your services and pay an assistant $15.00 an hour to implement the plan. This give you time to build your caseload.

Recreation Therapy is a broad field. What are some of the more common populations looking for RT services on your site?

The most common clients I see are people living with dementia. They seem to be the majority of clients receiving in-home care. They usually have family members as caregivers and need support services. Families do not want to place their loved ones in institutions unless it is the only option.

There is also a need for our services for veterans, developmental disabilities, and people rehabilitating from accidents and injuries. My thoughts are we can specialize in the treatment of one disorder, but if you apply the same treatment process for all clients you find you can open your practice for anyone in need.

I once had a client with rheumatoid arthritis. She needed mainly pain management without medication. Although it was not my specialty, I was able to research and implement a plan to help her. I worked with her for three months and discharged her with a wealth of knowledge empowering her with independence for controlling her pain. I learned a lot from that experience to help others.

Are there any high need geographic locations or RT specialties you notice from your clients?

I do not have enough data collected to pinpoint a geographic area needing RT. I found we are spread all over. When a therapist signs up, I concentrate my marketing efforts in their geographic areas to funnel clients to the website. I also market the globe with our services so, with the help of all therapists in our field and through the efforts of ATRA, NCTRC and individual RT companies, the word will spread.  With a larger sample size, the data can be better analyzed. MYRT will be a great resource for the collection of that data in the future.

One of the questions that I am often asked: “Are there any clients in my area?” I am not always able to answer that question. Our clients do not always provide that information. At this time, we do not have the ability to link clients with therapists. That is an option that will be added as the therapist and consumer database grows and we are able to add services to the web page. Our clients are reluctant to put some personal information online but can search for you provided you are in the database. I would not just focus your efforts in one area. You may find it feasible to travel to areas where you can work with three clients a few days a week.

Is this more for part-time work or can an RT make a full-time living through this site?

That is completely left up to the therapist. There are many of us engaged in a full-time company and others that only have time to supplement their income. Here is a wonderful example of a successful RT company.

MYRT will not be the only resource you have to find clients, but it may be a primary source.

Are there ways to make RT services more appealing and marketable?

I really believe once we deinstitutionalize our services and create our niche in home health and other areas in private practice our profession will speak for itself. As a profession, we all need to work together to share videos, information, accomplishments, and anything else showing what RT can do and how it benefits others. We need to work together to promote the profession and create new ways to take control of the direction of our profession.  

We need to join ATRA and get behind our professional organizations to help with the marketing and promotion of our profession.  We need licensure and we need to not accept our agencies to dictate to us how to do our jobs. We need to show them the difference between what an Activities Director can do and what a Recreational Therapist can do.

Feel fee to share any My Recreation Therapist success stories.

The word is getting out. We have over 3,000 followers on LinkedIn, over 700 likes on Facebook, 1500 signed up to learn more about our services, over 50 consumers signed up and growing on a daily basis. We have therapists in the US, Canada and Spain. This is within the first year!

If someone has more questions about this service, what is the best way to reach you?

Feel free to contact me with any questions.  Please like us on Facebook and write a review.  Please join My Recreation Therapist even if you are not ready to start your private practice.  Your membership helps with marketing efforts, is a lifetime membership, and will not cost you another cent for your entire working career.  

The $49.95 is an introductory fee and subject to change without notice in the future.  Everyone that joins today will receive $19.95 off a one-year membership to www.smartceushub,com. You can access all your required CEU’s pre-approved by NCTRC to maintain your credentials in the comfort of your own home w. Just imagine the savings in travel and lodging.

Therapist and consumers can contact me at:

Jeanne Hastings MS., CTRS


1-888-878-6978 (MYRT)

PO Box 202

4402 Hooper Hwy

Cosby, TN   37722

Learn More About Jeanne Hastings

Jeanne Hastings MS, CTRS, graduated with an Associates Degree in Recreation and Leisure studies with an concentration in Therapeutic Recreation from Erie Community College in 1979. She continued on with a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Studies in Recreation, Sports, and Leisure with a TR emphasis from SUNY Brockport. During this time NCTRC and CTRS credentialing entered its infancy, so she graduated with CTRS credentials. For over 40 years Jeanne worked in various mental health settings, geriatric LTC, private practice, and consulting. In 2007, she obtained her Master’s of Science Degree from the University of Tennessee in Recreation, Sports, and Leisure Studies with a TR emphasis. Currently she focuses on long term care facility consultant work and developing the My Recreation Therapist website to help consumers and Recreation Therapists connect for services

I want to take a moment to thank Jeanne for not only taking some time out of her busy day to participate in the interview, but also for the wonderful service she created. By progressing our profession forward, we can better use our skills, find more opportunities, and help increase the quality of lives of others AND our job satisfaction.

If anyone else has a product or service they think would be valuable for Recreation Therapists and other Activity Professionals, please contact me to see how we could get the word out to others in the profession.

Inspired to start a private practice? Read an article from the founder of Time Well Spent Senior Wellness, Christine Chipman.

Tell The Real Recreation Therapist Community:

What are your thoughts about private practice Recreational Therapy?

If you worked in private practice Recreational Therapy, how did you get clients?

Did you find this article helpful? Sharing helps reach Recreation Therapists to discover this resource. Take a few moments to share this post on your favorite social media platforms. Don’t forget to like the Real Recreation Therapist Facebook page. If you use Pinterest, check out my Recreation Therapy board with pins from featured articles and other resources.

If you are looking to connect with other like-minded professionals consider joining the Real Recreation Therapist Facebook Group.

2021 UPDATE! 

I’ve revamped my newsletter to give tips, advice, stories, and other useful information for private practice RT and more to your inbox each week (or so). Simply keep scrolling down to find the sign up for the newsletter–I like you too much to do one of those annoying pop ups.

(Visited 9,752 times, 1 visits today)
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments