How To Become a Diversional Therapist (With Skills List)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 October 2022 | Published 31 August 2021

Updated 11 October 2022

Published 31 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The health care industry includes a variety of careers that allow you to help others and promote their overall well-being. While many of these careers relate to physical well-being, some of them focus on social or emotional care. For example, diversional therapists develop and coordinate holistic leisure programs and activities to ensure the overall well-being of clients. In this article, we further define what a diversional therapist is, outline the steps for how to become a diversional therapist, list the skills these professionals need and discuss their salary, work environment and career outlook information.

What is a diversional therapist?

A diversional therapist designs, implements and facilitates leisure and recreation programs for people of all ages and abilities. They develop activities that challenge, support and enhance the emotional, physical, psychological, social and spiritual well-being of individuals. They focus on a client-centred practice that emphasises all individuals have a right to leisure and recreational experiences.

Diversional therapists are responsible for a variety of tasks such as:

  • Arranging recreational and leisure activities or events

  • Assisting clients in determining their preferences for recreational activities

  • Encouraging and supporting clients to participate in activities related to their interests and needs

  • Evaluating each client's abilities, interests, needs, strengths and weaknesses

  • Handling various administrative duties

  • Keeping up to date with resources available within the community or at a facility

  • Modifying programs to meet the abilities, individuals, needs and skills of individual clients

  • Performing task analysis to identify individual client needs

  • Planning and implementing programs that promote social development and a sense of well-being

  • Promoting interactions between their clients and the community

  • Purchasing leisure and recreational equipment and supplies

  • Sharing information about the resources local agencies and communities offer

  • Supervising and training volunteers

How to become a diversional therapist

Here are the steps you might follow if you are interested in how to become a diversional therapist:

1. Complete a formal qualification

Pursuing a career as a diversional therapist requires earning a formal qualification related to this career. Most employers seek candidates with an applied science or health science bachelor's degree. If possible, focus or specialise your studies in an area such as leisure and health or therapeutic recreation.

2. Gain experience

As you earn your qualification, explore opportunities to gain relevant experience. Look for opportunities that allow you to work with a particular type of client, such as younger children or people with disabilities. Consider exploring volunteer opportunities that may help develop a particular skill or leisure activity you enjoy, such as improving your arts and crafts skills or knowledge of sports and games.

3. Meet the requirements

Working as a diversional therapist typically requires passing a background check to receive a National Police Certificate and passing a Working with Children Check. Most employers also look for candidates who have a first-aid certificate. Similarly, if you're working in a clinical setting, you may need to provide your updated immunisation records.

4. Join a professional organisation

Consider joining a professional organisation to connect with other professionals and develop your skills. Diversional and Recreation Therapy Australia (DRTA) is one of the largest professional groups to join. This organisation strives to ensure diversional therapy remains relevant and viable to contribute successfully to clients and the community. Joining DRTA may provide you with professional development opportunities and demonstrate your commitment to your career to your peers and potential employers.

5. Build a network

In addition to joining a professional organisation, look for ways to connect with other like-minded professionals. Consider creating a profile for professional networking websites or attending local or national conferences or events. This may help you learn about new job opportunities, develop your skills or find a mentor.

6. Explore advancement opportunities

As you advance in your career, think about your options to advance within your profession. For example, you may improve your leadership skills to obtain a managerial position within your organisation. Another option would be to complete additional training to become an occupational therapist or to develop a speciality in an area like art therapy, music therapy or play.

Related: What Does an Occupational Therapist Do? (And How To Become One)

Skills needed to become a diversional therapist

Here are some important skills diversional therapists may need to develop:

Teamwork skills

Teamwork skills refer to how well a professional works with other people. Diversional therapists often work with health and community workers to best care for their clients. Their work may also require them to speak with other professionals to coordinate and execute activities.

Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definitions and Examples

Organisational skills

Organisation skills include the ability to create and maintain organisation within the workplace. Diversional therapists need good organisational skills to coordinate and lead leisure activities successfully. These skills also help them determine which activities best meet the needs of their clients and maintain organised records for each of them.

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills help people understand each other and respond to their emotions. It's important for diversional therapists to be caring individuals who are respectful of and sensitive to the needs of others, and it's also important that they enjoy interacting with and helping people. Having excellent interpersonal skills helps them build good relationships with their clients to best care for them.

Read more: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Communication skills

Diversional therapists need communication skills to understand and share information. These skills help them speak with their clients about their needs to best recommend activities that they may enjoy. Similarly, gathering information and telling clients about available resources and programs is a common task for diversional therapists.

Leadership skills

It can be important for diversional therapists to be able to lead a team. Good leadership skills help build a team, unite them under a common goal and motivate them to succeed. They also need good judgment and logical, practical thinking to help them make good decisions for their team and clients.

Related: 14 Leadership Qualities That Are Found in Great Leaders

First aid

Most employers require diversional therapists to have a first-aid certificate. It's important for them to be able to administer at least basic first aid to their clients. This is because they may care for clients who need medical attention or they may manage events that could lead to minor accidents, such as playing sports.

Leisure activities

It's often beneficial for diversional therapists to be skilled with or knowledgeable about various leisure activities. For example, they may benefit from knowing how to do different arts and crafts techniques or be familiar with various cultural or sporting activities in the area. Consider gaining skills related to:

  • Dance

  • Drama

  • Music

  • Painting

  • Photography

  • Physical education

  • Printmaking

Physical fitness

Working as a diversional therapist often requires generally good health. It's important for them to be physically fit and strong enough to lift or move people if necessary. Similarly, good physical fitness may help them participate in various activities with their clients.

Diversional therapist salary

There isn't salary information available for diversional therapists specifically. However, Indeed Salaries does offer salary information for similar careers. For example, the national average salary for an activities director is $72,627 per year, and the national average salary for a recreation coordinator is $85,374 per year. It's important to remember exact salaries may vary based on a range of factors, such as your qualifications, experience and geographic location.

Diversional therapist work environment

Diversional therapists may work with different types of clients, and their clients may affect their work environment. For example, they may work with clients who are ageing, have intellectual or physical disabilities, live with mental illness or require medical treatment. Some examples of places where diversional therapists may work include:

  • Aged-care facilities

  • Community health centres

  • Consultancies

  • Correctional institutions

  • Early childhood centres

  • Public hospitals

  • Private hospitals

  • Private practices

  • Respite care centres

  • Retirement villages

Some diversional therapists may work in specialised areas or specific departments. For example, some may focus their work in geriatric, psychiatric or rehabilitation departments. Similarly, some may work for institutions that provide special services for clients with hearing, speech or visual disabilities.

Diversional therapists often work with other health and community workers to care for their clients. Their work may overlap with that of occupational therapists. They often perform shift work, and they may work any time of day or year. Depending on their employer, this may include working nights, weekends or holidays.

Related: What Is Shift Work?

Diversional therapist career outlook

Working as a diversional therapist is a relatively small career. According to the Australian Government Job Outlook, there were 5,000 diversional therapists in 2020, but it expects this number to grow to 5,100 by 2025. This is a 2% increase, which it considers moderate future growth. Job opportunities may vary depending on factors like the number of people living in facilities or the funding available for institutions and programs.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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