Recreation Therapist

Perry Point, Maryland
Jul 28, 2021
Aug 05, 2021
Full Time


The Recreation Therapist for the VA Maryland Health Care System is aligned under Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services, a level 1B high complexity facility. The Recreation Therapist responsibility is to provide care and rehabilitation to veterans with a variety of complex diagnoses and disabilities.
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  • The Recreation Therapist is responsible for developing, organizing and administering recreation therapy programs to provide therapeutic interventions to patients in various programs: community living centers, hospice, sub-acute rehab, dementia special care unit, inpatient psychiatry, mental health residential, whole health, home-based primary care and Medical Foster Home (MFH).
  • Conduct, analyze, interpret, and report assessment data based upon functional domains (cognitive, sensory, social, affective, physical, and leisure). Incorporating the four-step process of: assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of services delivered, the therapist constructs appropriate and evidence-based recreation therapy interventions for treating patients with complex medical or mental health issues such as Polytrauma (TBI); Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Substance Use Disorder/Addictions; Serious Mental Illness; and Hospice/Palliative Care.
  • Provide direct patient care and receive guidance from higher-level or supervisory staff members for only the most complex patients and require only general supervision.
  • Review recreation therapy consults and conduct comprehensive evaluations. Based upon the assessment data and in collaboration with other stakeholders, the therapist develops individualized treatment plans with measurable therapeutic goals and objectives including scope, duration and treatment. Recommends adaptation, modification, and/or assistive technology to meet the assessed needs and preferences in recreation therapy.
  • The Recreation Therapist is expected to perform documentation of patient care including assessments, progress notes, encounters, consultations, care plans, and other reports as needed. Serves as Recreation Therapy representative on interdisciplinary teams as assigned or needed.
  • Using activity/task analysis, behavioral interventions, and therapeutic procedures they design individualized treatment interventions to reduce stress, anxiety and maladaptive behaviors, recover basic motor functioning, reasoning abilities, build confidence, and develop compensatory strategies to master critical life skills necessary to re-enter the community in a productive manner. Sophisticated techniques/strategies used to improve or support clinical outcomes may include but are not limited to: develop positive patterns of behavior; relaxation and stress reduction; lifestyle alteration; social skills training; develop self-esteem; reinforce positive relationships; motor learning and training strategies; anger and pain management; identify risks; recovery support; lifestyle adjustment; conflict/problem resolution; adjustment to disability, including coping with grief and loss.
  • Exercises resourcefulness in providing individualized, unique effective methods and procedures when implementing therapeutic interventions including but not limited to: assistive technology; cognitive behavioral skills; aquatic therapy; fitness and wellness; adapted sports and leisure development, community accessibility/reintegration/transition. Evaluates patient needs for additional, alternative, or termination of services and monitor effectiveness of intervention plans and makes modifications, as needed. Determines effectiveness of protocols, modalities and programs for targeted groups through quantitative analysis and identifies potential risks and need for adaptive interventions with cases to facilitate improved bio-psychosocial well-being. Participates in co-treatment opportunities including but not limited to: neurological rehabilitation; mental health recovery programs; and palliative care related to the symptoms of a terminal illness. Conducts discharge analysis for community needs

Work Schedule: Tuesday - Saturday, 8am-430pm and 12pm-8:30pm
Compressed/Flexible: Not Available.
Telework: Not Available
Virtual: This is not a virtual position.

Travel Required

Occasional travel - You may be expected to travel for this position.

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen to apply for this job
  • Designated and/or random drug testing may be required
  • Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959
  • You may be required to serve a probationary period
  • Subject to a background/security investigation
  • Must be proficient in written and spoken English
  • Selected applicants will be required to complete an online onboarding process


Basic Requirements:

United States Citizenship: Non-citizens may only be appointed when it is not possible to recruit qualified citizens in accordance with VA Policy.

Education. The following education requirements apply to the recreation therapist.
a) A bachelor's degree or higher, from an accredited college or university, with a major in therapeutic recreation or recreation/leisure, with an option and/or emphasis in therapeutic recreation. The degree must be approved by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC);


(b) A bachelor's degree or higher in any field from an accredited college or university and must be a certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS). The degree must be approved by the NCTRC. If hired under this education, the certification cannot be waived.

Foreign Education. To be creditable, education completed outside the U.S. must have been submitted to a private organization that specializes in the interpretation of foreign educational credentials. The private organization must deem such education at least equivalent to that gained in conventional U.S. programs.

Required Certification. Applicants must be certified in recreation therapy as a CTRS by the NCTRC. If hired under paragraph 3b(1)(b certification cannot be waived.

Exception. Non-registered and/or non-certified applicants, who otherwise meet the eligibility requirements for registration and/or certification, may be given a temporary appointment as a graduate recreation or creative arts therapist, under the authority of 38 U.S.C. § 7405(c)(2)(B), for a period not to exceed two years. Applicants who fail to obtain registration and/or certification during this temporary full-time appointment may be terminated. The exception only applies to positions at the GS-7 and GS-9 level. For grade levels at or above the full performance level, the candidate must be registered and/or certified.

Failure to Obtain Registration/Certification. In all cases, recreation and creative arts therapists must actively pursue meeting registration and/or certification requirements, starting from the date of appointment. At the time of appointment, the supervisor will provide the unregistered and/or uncertified recreation or creative arts therapist with the written requirement to obtain registration/certification, the date by which the registration and/or certification must be acquired, and the consequences for not becoming registered and/or certified by the deadline. Failure to become registered and/or certified within two years from the date of appointment will result in removal from the GS-0638 recreation and creative arts therapist occupation, and may result in termination of employment.

Loss of Credential. A recreation or creative arts therapist who fails to maintain the required registration and/or certification must be removed from the occupation, which may also result in termination of employment.

Grandfathering Provision. All persons employed in VHA as a recreation or creative arts therapist, on the effective date of this qualification standard, are considered to have met all qualification requirements for the title, series, and grade held, including positive education, and registration and/or certification that are part of the basic requirements of the occupation. For employees who do not meet all the basic requirements in this standard, but who met the qualifications applicable to the position at the time they were appointed, the following provisions apply: Such employees may be reassigned, promoted up to, and including, the full performance (journeyman) level, or changed to lower grade within the occupation, but may not be promoted beyond the journeyman level, or placed in supervisory or managerial positions. Employees who were appointed on a temporary basis, prior to the effective date of the qualification standard, may not have their temporary appointment extended or be reappointed, on a temporary or permanent basis, until they fully meet the basic requirements of the standard. Employees initially grandfathered into this occupation, who subsequently obtain additional education and/or licensure/registration/certification, that meet all the basic requirements of this qualification standard must maintain the required credentials as a condition of employment in the occupation. Recreation and creative arts therapists who are converted to title 38 hybrid status under this provision and subsequently leave the occupation lose protected status and must meet the full VA qualification standard requirements, in effect at the time of reentry, as a recreation or creative arts therapist.

English Language Proficiency. Must be proficient in spoken and written English.

Grade Determinations:

Experience. At least one year of creditable experience at the next lower grade level of GS-9.

Knowledge of Current Professional Recreation Therapy. The experience must have required the use of knowledge, skills, and abilities associated with current professional recreation therapy practices. Evidence of such experience includes private practice, U.S. military services, local/state/federal government organizations, for profit/non-profit organizations, health care, or educational facilities.

Quality of Experience. Experience satisfying this requirement must be active professional practice, which may be paid or non-paid employment as a recreation therapist.

In addition to the basic requirements for employment, the following criteria must be met when determining the grade of candidates:

Demonstrated Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities. And, the candidate must demonstrate all of the following KSAs:
Ability to adapt assessment tools and treatment interventions to address the complexity of the diagnosis or disabilities and demonstrate the clinical reasoning necessary to identify the need for further in-depth specific assessment of function and utilization of unconventional methods and techniques.
Knowledge to independently interpret provider referrals and consults; and apply all health and safety regulations to minimize and mitigate risks in the provision of patient care and the environment of care.
Skill in effectively communicating and educating, in a clear and concise manner, with patients, families, caregivers, and other health care professionals to facilitate the interdisciplinary treatment process.
Skill in independently utilizing appropriate screening and evaluation techniques required to appropriately provide direct patient care in areas such as, but not limited to recommendations for recreation therapy assistive devices, including fit and function.
Skill in independently applying evidence-based and best practice therapeutic techniques and interventions.
Knowledge of the principles and techniques in recreation therapy assessment and the treatment of recreation, leisure, and biopsychosocial functional deficits.

References: VAH 5005/111 Part II Appendix G60 Dated June 7, 2019

The full performance level of this vacancy is GS-11.

Physical Requirements: Job related physical demands rating of Medium Work (U.S. Department of Labor) which implies frequent 20 pounds of lifting and infrequent lifting of 50 pounds or over. Prolonged walking, prolonged sitting, pushing (wheelchairs and equipment), bending, squatting, reaching, handling, manipulating small objects, cardiovascular workouts on therapeutic equipment, and isotonic, isokinetic, or isometric exercise programs. Experiences also include exposure to various forms of mechanical, radiant, thermal, acoustic and/or electrical energy, and potential exposure to chemicals used the preservation of biological tissues and for cleaning.


IMPORTANT: A transcript must be submitted with your application if you are basing all or part of your qualifications on education.

Note: Only education or degrees recognized by the U.S. Department of Education from accredited colleges, universities, schools, or institutions may be used to qualify for Federal employment. You can verify your education here: . If you are using foreign education to meet qualification requirements, you must send a Certificate of Foreign Equivalency with your transcript in order to receive credit for that education. For further information, visit: .

Additional information

Receiving Service Credit or Earning Annual (Vacation) Leave: Federal Employees earn annual leave at a rate (4, 6 or 8 hours per pay period) which is based on the number of years they have served as a Federal employee. VA may offer newly-appointed Federal employee's credit for their job-related non-federal experience or active duty uniformed military service. This credited service can be used in determining the rate at which they earn annual leave. Such credit must be requested and approved prior to the appointment date and is not guaranteed.

This job opportunity announcement may be used to fill additional vacancies.

It is the policy of the VA to not deny employment to those that have faced financial hardships or periods of unemployment.

This position is in the Excepted Service and does not confer competitive status.

VA encourages persons with disabilities to apply. The health-related positions in VA are covered by Title 38, and are not covered by the Schedule A excepted appointment authority.

Veterans and Transitioning Service Members: Please visit the VA for Vets site for career-search tools for Veterans seeking employment at VA, career development services for our existing Veterans, and coaching and reintegration support for military service members.

If you are unable to apply online or need to fax a document you do not have in electronic form, view the following link for information regarding an Alternate Application .

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

IN DESCRIBING YOUR EXPERIENCE, PLEASE BE CLEAR AND SPECIFIC. WE MAY NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS REGARDING YOUR EXPERIENCE. Your application, résumé, C.V., and/or supporting documentation will be verified. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect consideration for employment.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religions; spiritual; community; student; social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance

Drug test required

Position sensitivity and risk
Non-sensitive (NS)/Low Risk

Trust determination process
Credentialing , Suitability/Fitness

Required Documents

To apply for this position, you must provide a complete Application Package which includes:

  • VA-Form 10-2850c
  • Professional Certification
  • Resume

VA Form 10-2850c Application for Associated Health Occupations can be found at: .

The following documents are accepted, and may be required if applicable to your eligibility and/or qualifications for this position. Please use this checklist to ensure you have included all documents required for your application, such as a copy of your transcript (if using education to qualify), SF-50's (current/former Federal employees), etc.

  • Cover Letter
  • DD-214/ Statement of Service
  • Disability Letter (Schedule A)
  • Disability Letter (VA)
  • License
  • VA-Form 10-2850c
  • Other (2)
  • Other (3)
  • Performance Appraisal
  • Professional Certification
  • Proof of Enrollment
  • Proof of Marriage Status
  • Resume
  • Separation Notice (RIF)
  • SF-15
  • SF-50/ Notification of Personnel Action
  • Transcript

Veterans' Preference: When applying for Federal Jobs, eligible Veterans should claim preference for 5pt (TP), 10pt (CP/CPS/XP), or for Sole Survivor Preference (SSP) in the questionnaire. You must provide a legible copy of your DD214(s) which shows dates and character of service (honorable, general, etc.). If you are currently serving on active duty and expect to be released or discharged within 120 days you must submit documentation related to your active duty service which reflects the dates of service, character of service (honorable, general, etc.), and dates of impending separation. Additionally, disabled veterans and others eligible for 10-point preference (such as widows or mothers of eligible Veterans) must also submit an SF-15 "Application for 10 Point Veteran Preference" with required proof as stated on the form. Documentation is required to award preference. For more information on Veterans' Preference, please visit Feds Hire Vets - Veterans - Job Seekers - Veterans' Preference .

If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.