Choose a career as a Diversional therapist and make a big difference to people’s emotional, social and physical wellbeing. In New Zealand, the over 65 population is estimated to increase by 84% in the next 20 years*. Since much of the work of a Diversional Therapist involves working with the aged, the prospects for finding work in this area are good in New Zealand. You can also get paid to get qualified in diversional therapy with on-job training.

What’s involved in being a Diversional therapist

Diversional therapists create and facilitate leisure and recreation activities that support and enhance the emotional, social, spiritual, psychosocial and physical wellbeing of individuals. As a diversional therapist, you’ll work with people who have physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, mental illness, and with children, young people and the aged.

Diversional therapists practice in many areas of the community: Public and private hospitals, residential care facilities, rehabilitation centres, hostels, community centres, youth centres, schools and early childhood centres. You might even work with organisations offering services to people with specific disabilities such as vision or hearing impairment. You’ll usually work regular business hours.

A typical day as a Diversional therapist

Diversional therapists may do some or all of the following:

    • design and facilitate recreational activities for enjoyment and fulfilment that:
      • allows freedom of choice.
      • encourages communication and expression.
      • allows people to work within their own capabilities.
      • helps with memory and orientation.
      • encourages the use of visual and hand skills.
    • encourage participation and enjoyment in these events, outings and activities.
    • provide instruction on how to do the activities.
    • assess and document clients’ progress.
    • supervise events and activities.
    • discuss individual’s progress with medical and other professionals, and families/whanau.

Characteristics of a Diversional therapist

Diversional therapists need:

  • a caring and compassionate nature.
  • excellent communication and facilitation skills.
  • a willingness to help people.
  • excellent organisational skills.
  • problem-solving skills.
  • leadership and motivational skills.
  • good community links.
  • good level of fitness.


Diversional therapists need to have:

  • knowledge of a wide variety of leisure, cultural and recreational activities.
  • knowledge of safety issues and first aid.
  • creative ability and be innovative.

How to become a qualified Diversional therapist

Volunteering is a good way to start to gain some experience. You learn to become a diversional therapist through on the job training supported by Careerforce, so you will need to be employed. Your employer can help you gain relevant, practical qualifications while gaining experience in a work environment. Assessment is carried out by assessors within the workplace.

Career Journey

At School Introductory Roles Advancing Roles Leadership Roles/Senior Roles
  Role Titles Role Titles Role Titles
The Arts
Health and Physical Education
Social Sciences
Aged Care / Disability Support Worker
Community Support Worker
Activities Assistant/Co-ordinator/Officer Recreation Officer
Diversional Therapist
Registered Diversional Therapist
Recreation Therapist
Registered Diversional Therapist
  Qualifications Qualifications Qualifications
Gateway Subjects
Follow the Purple Pathway (Social
and Community Services)
New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Levels 2+3) New Zealand Apprenticeship in Health and Wellbeing (Level 4)Community Facilitation Tertiary qualifications

More information

Read more about relevant qualifications to become a Diversional Therapist

New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Levels 2)
New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Levels 3)
New Zealand Apprenticeship in Health and Wellbeing (Level 4) Community Facilitation

In employment

  • Talk to your employer
  • Contact 0800 277 486 and talk to our Apprenticeship and Vocational Pathways Advisors at Careerforce

Still at school?

  • Talk to your Careers Advisor
  • Contact 0800 277 486 and talk to our Apprenticeship and Vocational Pathways Advisors at Careerforce

*source: Careers NZ 2016

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