A career in Complementary therapy

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Complementary therapists are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of their clients. As we become more interested in complementary medicine, the demand for therapists increases. Working in conjunction with conventional medicine, they practise medical traditions that are thousands of years old.

What are complementary therapies?

Complementary therapies use natural methods to restore the balance of the body and stimulate its own healing powers. Therapists take a holistic approach to the treatment of illness, which means they identify and treat the underlying cause of the illness rather than simply treating the symptoms.

Who employs complementary therapists?

Most complementary therapists are self-employed, although a small number are employed by organisations like complementary therapy centres, health clubs, gyms and beauty therapy salons. There are around 50,000 complementary therapists practising in the UK.

What sort of working environment can I expect?

Working environments are clean and comfortable. You could spend most of your working day sitting talking to clients, but if you give Hands-on therapy like massage, teach a discipline like yoga or pilates, or work in a shop, you will be much more active.

Do I have the right personality to work in complementary therapy?

Most of the people interviewed in this book stress how important it is to be genuinely interested in helping others. Good communication skills are essential. People have health problems for all kinds of reasons, so you shouldn't be judgemental. You need to empathise with clients without becoming personally involved in their problems.

What skills/qualifications will I need for a career in complementary therapy?

There are opportunities at all levels. While some therapists have degrees and postgraduate qualifications, some jobs and training courses have no formal entry requirements. Anyone who is self-employed needs business skills to attract clients, manage the finances and keep up to date with paperwork. Many professional training courses include some modules on running and building a business.

How do I choose a course?

Short introductory leisure courses in many complementary therapies are offered by colleges and training providers throughout the UK. They will give you enough skills to practise on family and friends and help you to decide whether you would like to study the subject in more depth.

Do I need a qualification to work in complementary therapy?

To work as a professional therapist, you must study an accredited course. The professional bodies which represent complementary therapists are working with the government on plans to regulate therapists in the same way that mainstream healthcare professionals are regulated. This involves registering with a recognised professional body before being allowed to practise. Accredited courses will enable you to qualify for registration.

Is there anything else to think about?

If you are self-employed, your income is likely to vary from month to month, depending on the number of patients you see. Overheads like rent, transport and marketing costs will affect the amount you earn.

Most therapists set their own working hours, but it is important to be available when clients can see you. This could mean working in the evening or at weekends.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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