Clemson recreational therapy professor Marieke Van Puymbroeck is the new president of American Therapeutic Recreation Association

Clemson recreational therapy professor Marieke Van Puymbroeck is the new president of American Therapeutic Recreation Association.
Image Credit: Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

CLEMSON — Clemson University recreational therapy professor Marieke Van Puymbroeck has been sworn in as president of American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA).

Van Puymbroeck said she is honored and excited to serve in a role that allows her to move the field forward. The position allows her to interact with many current and potential members and address the needs of recreational therapists across the country.

“My theme for the year is making connections and moving forward,” Van Puymbroeck said. “I want us to connect with our allied health disciplines and figure out how we move forward together.”

Her role is effective until next September when she will step down to be past-president.

She’s interested in increasing the efficiency of the organization, increasing visibility of recreational therapy on the health care stage and strengthening collaborations with partnering organizations. She also hopes to carry on a tradition of healthy collaboration between Clemson and the association.

“Clemson faculty have been engaged with the ATRA for years,” Van Puymbroeck said. “They are leaders of the research institute and a higher education task force and have great visibility. Clemson is a top school for recreational therapy, so I think we’ll be bringing more visibility to our graduate programs.”

Wayne Freimund, chair of Clemson’s parks, recreation and tourism management department that houses the recreational therapy program, said he is proud of the work Van Puymbroeck has done and will continue to do at Clemson and in her new role with the association.

“She’s helped us build one of the most innovative and far-reaching doctorate programs in the country, which enriches our student experience for onsite and distance education students,” Freimund said. “She provides great leadership and role modeling on how to have impact. As president of the ATRA, the country is getting a glimpse of what we see in Marieke every day.”

Van Puymbroeck has taught at Clemson for five years. She previously taught at Indiana University and the University of Illinois.

While at Clemson, Van Puymbroeck has taught classes in recreational therapy and helped develop the online doctorate program.

Van Puymbroeck was also a member of the inaugural class of the President’s Leadership Institute at Clemson University, to which she attributes her knowledge and ability to lead the organization. She said the experience provided valuable lessons about leadership and leadership styles that she will carry with her as president of the association.


Clemson University Recreational Therapy Program
Recreational therapy is a cost-effective health care profession that uses active treatments such as recreation, leisure, sport, play and community participation to increase the well-being and functional outcomes for individuals experiencing disability or health conditions. Clemson’s recreational therapy program offers an undergraduate bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree (traditional and online) and a traditional and online Ph.D. program.

American Therapeutic Recreation Association
Founded in 1984, as a nonprofit, grassroots organization, the association is the only national membership organization representing the interests and needs of therapeutic recreation specialists, also known as recreation therapists. Recreation therapists are health care providers who plan, direct, deliver and evaluate recreation-based interventions for individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions. They provide research-informed interventions that are based on client assessments and targeted client outcomes.