How to Become a Holistic Therapist – A Guide and Overview of Holistic Therapy

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Holistic therapy is a growing industry around the world, and more and more jobs are opening in the field, especially as holistic and complementary therapies become more accepted by general medicine. If you’re thinking about how to become a holistic therapist, how to learn the basics of the career, your future job opportunities, and what you need to get started, we can all help you on your way.

What is a Holistic Therapist?

A holistic therapist is anyone who practices any of a number of holistic therapies, such as Reiki or holistic massage, aimed at treating the entire body, rather than just the physical problem. As a therapist, your job is to work with patients to ensure mental, physical, and emotional health, which can benefit patients in many ways. For that reason, you have to be empathic, caring, and genuinely interested in patients in order to make a difference. Holistic therapists are often called complementary therapists in general medicine.

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What Are the Types of Holistic Therapy?

There are dozens of different types of holistic therapy, and they vary in authenticity, and proven medical benefit. Reiki, holistic massage, acupuncture, meditation, naturopathy, energy work, herbalism, Ayurvedic, Chinese Traditional Medicine, and osteopathy are all common types of holistic therapy. Most people choose to research the available options, and find themselves drawn to one or more types. Because most are complementary to each other, it can also be beneficial to learn about and practice two or more different holistic therapies. The best way to decide on a holistic therapy is to decide if you want to take a hands on approach, work as a counselor, or as a therapist. Body work including acupuncture and massage, nutrition and herbalism, and stress management and happiness techniques found in naturopathy and meditation each fit into one of these categories.

Education and Requirements

There are a great deal of different requirements depending on what you intend to do as a therapist. While there are no education requirements for many types of therapy, they are helpful and necessary if you decide to pursue holistic medicine as a complementary therapist in a hospital. If you want to set up your own practice, it is significantly less necessary, but still helpful.

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Available Degrees for Holistic Therapists

There are a number of degree options that holistic therapists can choose from.

Associates – Associates degrees in nursing, health administration, oriental medicine, and health science are all common. These two year degrees allow you to learn the basics of medicine, and offer more credibility than no degree, but won’t qualify you to work in most hospitals.

Bachelor’s – A 4-year degree in a medicine or health related field, including nutrition and wellness, can be extremely valuable when looking for a job as a medical consultant or a holistic practitioner. Bachelor degrees that can help your career as a holistic therapist include nursing, nurse administration, health administration, oriental medicine, health sciences, nutrition science, complementary and alternative health, holistic studies, advanced patient care, and more.

Master’s – A master’s degree is a great way to take your career to the next level, and may be required for some types of holistic medicine. For example, you are required to present a Master in Oriental Medicine in order to earn a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. A Master allows you to qualify for many hospital and consultancy positions, and adds credibility to your chosen holistic method.

Doctor – A Doctorate in Psychology, Natural Medicine, Complementary Medicine, Holistic Medicine, or Bodywork will allow you to practice as a doctor, and legally use the term in your name. This is the best option if you want to work in a hospital or as a consultant, and allows you to set up a practice like a general medicine doctor.

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Certification

Even if you have a medical degree, you still need certification in the holistic therapy or therapies of your choice. Because some certifications require that you have a degree, you may have to get both. Other certifications only require that you take a certain amount of classes and follow an approved course, before completing a test. For example, you are required to complete a 500-hour course from an accredited school before you can become certified for acupuncture. Each type of holistic therapy has its own certification methods and requirements.

Career Opportunities

There are numerous career opportunities for holistic health practitioners, and those opportunities continue to grow. While the majority of holistic therapists operate and run their own business, you can also work as a counselor, work in a hospital as a complementary therapist or physician depending on your credentials, or work in a health club or spa as a trainer, therapist, or counselor. Each of these requires varying levels of education and experience, and most offer pay on par with that experience.

Job Outlook

Depending on the holistic therapy practice you choose, the holistic health field is expected to grow between 8 and 25% by 2022. Holistic massage is expected to grow by 22%, positions for holistic physicians and doctors are expected to grow by 18%, and 8-14% for every other type of career. That’s an impressive growth for a relatively small branch of medicine, in any field.

Average Salary

Holistic therapists earn a widely varying salary depending on education and job title. One consideration is that if you are starting a new business, it is up to you, your marketing skills, and your customer service to earn money and grow your business into something sustainable. That aside, most successful holistic health practitioners earn around $85,000 per year. Hands on or massage and acupuncture therapists usually earn $40-$50,000, and those with a doctorate usually earn $189,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

If you are interested in learning more about how to become a holistic therapist, take our course and learn the basics of therapy, the human body, your option as a therapist and how to run your own business. 

Brandy Cross is a professional writer and journalist, AFPA Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, certified Pilate’s mat teacher, and student currently working towards her 500 Hour RYT Yoga Teacher Certification and a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition at Cornell University.

Brandy’s first job was in a restaurant, where she quickly learned the basics of cooking and crafting food, and she cannot remember a time when food was not an important part of her life. Lactose intolerance drove her to studying the basics of nutrition, where she learned about eating properly, controlling weight with food, and ensuring proper nutrition for health and wellness.

When she discovered yoga, which she practices several hours per day, Brandy began studying the basics of plant based nutrition and vegan food, and creating recipes based around legumes, mushrooms, and other plant based proteins. With hundreds of hours applied to learning basic to advanced food skills, she is capable of crafting recipes and has ghost written multiple recipe books.

Outside of nutrition and fitness, Brandy owns one cat, keeps a small balcony garden, and writes fiction in her spare time.

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