How do I become a holistic therapist?

Emily Whitton
By Emily Whitton,
updated on Feb 26, 2024

Image shows wild flowers laid on a table.

Thinking about a career in holistic therapy? We share some of the things to consider 

A career in wellness support can be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable as you provide individuals with the tools they need on their own health and wellbeing journeys. Here, we explore some of the key things to be aware of if you’re considering a career in holistic therapy, but first, let’s take a look at what holistic therapy actually is.

What is holistic therapy? 

Holistic therapy, also known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM therapy), is a whole-body approach to healing which uses treatments that aren’t currently offered in standard healthcare systems, usually alongside conventional medicine. 

The goal of a holistic therapist is to rebalance the body’s energy. This is done by taking into account the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of a person, hence the ‘holistic’ or ‘whole’ approach (mind, body and spirit). This is where holistic therapy differs from conventional medicine, which typically looks at treating just one aspect of the person. For example, if someone is suffering from a painful back, treatment will typically focus on pain relief and preventative measures to stop recurring injuries. 

Holistic therapists, on the other hand, believe that disease and illness are connected to other parts of ourselves. Therefore, the therapist will look at where there may be imbalances elsewhere in the body and seek to address this, in turn overcoming the initial concern of the client. 

What does holistic therapy treat? 

Holistic therapy is generally considered to be a preventative approach to wellbeing, however, it can help to manage existing physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health problems when used alongside other treatments. Some of these concerns include:

  • stress
  • depression
  • anxiety 
  • sleep problems 
  • improving overall mood
  • aches and pains 
  • feeling disconnected 

What are the types of therapies used in complementary medicine? 

There are many holistic approaches to choose from. This makes it particularly attractive as individuals can try a variety of therapies to figure out what works best for them. Additionally, many therapies can be used together, to offer maximum benefit. For example, some Yoga practitioners may incorporate elements of meditation, and many massage therapists will use aromatherapy. Some of the most common therapies include:

  • Yoga
  • massage 
  • Ayurveda
  • Reiki 
  • acupuncture 
  • tapping or EFT

To find out about other holistic therapies on offer, browse our list of techniques on Therapy Directory.

Whilst there are some complementary therapies available on the NHS, such as physiotherapy and acupuncture, they’re not widely available. It’s for this reason that many practitioners choose to set up in private practice, but where do you begin? 

Find what interests you 

The first step in pursuing a career in holistic therapy is of course to decide what therapy type you’ll practice. For many professionals, they may have gone into a particular branch of complementary therapy having benefitted from it themselves. You may, however, have simply developed an interest in a specific area and are now wanting to take this further. Once you’ve decided what you’ll train in, the next step is to qualify. 

Understanding regulations 

Most holistic therapies are not regulated in the UK. This means that anybody can call themselves a practitioner. Understandably, this can have an impact on the credibility of the profession, so it’s really important that you gain the relevant qualifications so that prospective clients know they’re working with a professional. We recommend doing research into your specific area of interest, as there will be different training requirements for each approach. 

As there are few regulations for holistic therapies, many professionals choose to voluntarily (or self-) regulate. This involves joining a professional body, such as the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) which outlines the standards of practice and code of ethics. Doing this allows you to prove your professionalism and credibility to clients, as well as network with other practitioners, stay up to date with industry changes and continue your professional development. 

There are, however, some therapies which are regulated in the UK. The majority of these are protected by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) These include:

  • chiropractic treatment 
  • physiotherapy 
  • osteopathy 
  • podiatry
  • occupational therapy 
  • speech and language therapy 

For more tips, see our resource on choosing a course or training organisation. 

After you’ve qualified 

Once you’re fully qualified, you can start to take on clients and establish your business. Below are some additional things you’ll need to do to get your new venture off the ground:

  • Register as self-employed on the Government website and set up as a partnership or a limited company
  • Arrange insurance cover and professional indemnity.
  • Familiarise yourself with your legal obligations - what tax and VAT do you need to pay? 
  • Consider what fees you’ll charge. 
  • Market your business. You may wish to create a website and share your services on social media. Advertising your practice on Therapy Directory gives you an optimised web presence and access to a whole host of marketing resources. 
  • Further your knowledge with continued professional development hours. You can find CPD events on Therapy Directory.  

We hope you have found this a useful guide to help you get started in your holistic therapy career. Do take the time to do some more research so that you can be sure it’s right for you. We wish you the best of luck on your new adventure!

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