A holistic therapist provides alternative, or complementary, treatment to an individual who may be suffering from various ailments, connected to either the body or the mind. Holistic therapists may work from home, set up a private practice, or rent a room in an established practice or health club.
A holistic therapist is an individual who has been trained in the art of holistic therapy. Holistic therapy is treatment which aims to treat a client as a whole, rather than as a being separated into different parts which do not interconnect. You treat the individual’s body, spirit, and mind. It is often used on individuals who are also being treated with traditional medicine, for example patients who are taking pharmaceutical drugs for a medical condition or undergoing therapy for a mental disorder.
The treatment is also popular with those undergoing treatment for cancer. Various treatments which fall under the holistic therapy description are provided alongside traditional treatment such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and many holistic therapists believe that such a combination is useful. Whilst many drugs only target the part of the body which is not working properly, holistic therapy seeks to heal other imbalances in the body which can actually cause various illnesses.
Some of the treatments which fall under the genre of holistic therapy include acupuncture, Chinese treatments, homoeopathy, reflexology, polarity therapy, crystal healing, and spiritual response therapy. Many such treatments have been around for thousands of years and most have a basis in scientific theory. However, certain of the other treatments, such as the spiritual response therapy, seem to have no basis in scientific fact and have therefore been somewhat scorned by medical experts.
It may come as no surprise to state that most holistic therapists are women. Therapists are required to be sensitive and able to listen to the problems of their patients, which is perhaps why more women have traditionally been encouraged to train for such a career. However, there is really no good reason why men should not become holistic therapists.
Renumeration in Holistic Therapy differs since many do not consider money as an important part of their work. Most holistic therapists love what they do and derive satisfaction from providing an essential service to individuals who need help. If a therapist is setting up a private practice, no profit is likely to be made quickly since buying equipment and setting up a room can be extremely expensive. Even if a therapist is working for an established practice, the long hours do not result in a great deal of money.
Renting a room takes away much of the profit made and, for this reason, many holistic therapists choose to work from home. However, even this option has problems associated with it, since it will take longer to build up a client base. Once a holistic therapist has become established and managed to absorb the initial expenses, they can expect to earn a reasonable living but the annual salary will never be spectacular.
Some of the main tasks performed by holistic therapists include:
- Listening to the needs of the individual client and assessing the treatment which may be best for them
- Providing advice as well as alternative treatments
- Understanding the current medical conditions of the client in order to make sure they are not exposed to treatments which may be risky
- Discussing treatment plans with the client and altering them if necessary
- Providing a range of treatments to the individual
- Constantly checking that the client feels comfortable with the particular treatment being administered
- Assessing the session with the client after the treatment has ended
- Spending time advertising and trying to build up a client base
- Reading research on new treatments and keeping up-to-date with new advances in the medical world
Many colleges offer qualifications suitable for holistic therapists in training and the Internet is a good source of information on the numerous colleges and the different courses. The sorts of courses available include a one year course in aromatherapy, a one year course in reflexology, a two year course in polarity therapy, a one year course in reiki, and a two year course in animal healing (the Charles Siddell Foundation of Animal Healers in Wiltshire is a popular choice for this course).
The content of such courses differs from college to college and is not always cnfined to the obvious. For instance an aromatherapy course may include elements of counselling, pharmacology (which educates individuals about the properties and dangers of certain oils which may be risky for clients who are pregnant for example), and pathology, which provides education about illnesses and diseases.
However, whilst such courses are very important, perhaps the most important qualification which will prepare individuals for all the treatments provided by holistic therapists is Anatomy and Physiology.
The following skills are essential for good holistic therapists:
- The ability to listen closely to the needs of clients
- An analytical mind which can understand how best to treat an individual’s needs
- The ability to work long, and often unpredictable, hours
- Patience, since some treatments take a long time to work
- A sensitive nature
- Good interpersonal skills
- The ability to keep sensitive information confidential at all times
Holistic therapists usually work in comfortable conditions, since their clients need to feel at ease at all times. They will either work from home, or in a rented room, for instance at a health club or private practice. However, holistic therapists occasionally visit clients in their own homes, particularly if the individual is seriously ill. The hours can be very long and do not fit the typical nine to five timetable. Furthermore, the job can be stressful as holistic therapists need to listen to the problems of other clients on a daily basis. However, this negative point is compensated for by the job satisfaction felt by most holistic therapists, who believe that their job is extremely rewarding.
To become a holistic therapist, qualifications are more important than experience. However, any experience is likely to be viewed positively both by colleges accepting applicants and by potential employers. If you are at school or at college, try gaining work experience of some kind. Even experience in general beauty therapy or massage will help in the long-term.
Many holistic therapists work for themselves or in the local leisure centre or small health club but the following major health clubs may employ their services:
- Cannons health clubs
- Fitness First health clubs
- David Lloyd leisure clubs
The NHS is increasingly offering alternative therapies to patients and work may be found by contacting your local NHS trust.
Many holistic therapists simply stay in their general role and concentrate on becoming more experienced and knowledgeable about all the treatments on offer. However, some will decide to specialise in just one treatment, thus becoming a masseur or maybe a reflexology expert. Many holistic therapists decide to leave the practical side of their job and adopt a role in teaching. They may become a lecturer in holistic therapy at a college or run courses for therapists who are already trained.
Also known as…
- Complementary therapist
- Holistic Practitioner
- Alternative therapist
What’s it really like?
Nikki Freemantle has been working as a holistic therapist for twelve years, after completing courses in aromatherapy, reflexology, polarity therapy, reiki, crystal healing, animal healing, and anatomy and physiology.
She trained at the Charles Siddell Foundation of Animal Healers and also at the Raworth College in Dorking, Surrey. She has also done a counselling course which she feels is essential not only to do her best for her clients but because listening to people’s problems can be very difficult for an untrained person.
Nikki’s therapies can help with the following:
- Muscular and Joint Pain
- Back Pain
- Neck Pain
- Spinal and Nerve injuries
- Hormone Imbalances
- Emotional Abuse
- Weight Loss
- Posture Correction
- Exercise Rehabilitation
Prior to becoming a holistic therapist, she was a full-time mother and before her children were born, she was a secretary. Nikki now works from home as well as from a local branch of the health club, Cannons. This means that she has access to a wide range of clients who travel from areas across the south-east region of England to see her.
Although Nikki has been able to establish herself as a popular holistic therapist, she has also seen numerous therapists qualify and then fail to gain a good client base. She believes that gradually building a good reputation and subtly encouraging clients to spread the word about her services is very important. In order to become successful, she believes that flexibility is essential and individuals must be willing to work long hours, including evenings and weekends.
During a typical day, Nikki holds numerous sessions with clients who have different needs. Nikki will meet with a client and listen to their problems before devising a treatment plan. She will then administer the appropriate treatments and constantly check that the client is comfortable. Nikki loves the fact that she is able to help her clients on a physical and emotional basis and the only downside to the job is that, like all self-employed people, she is not paid when she takes holidays. Having said this, she does appreciate the other benefits of working for herself.