Alternative and complementary health therapies that were once thought of as “weird” or “unworthy” are now being accepted and embraced by modern-day society. Holistic health practitioners have many more opportunities today than in years past. However, the term “holistic health practitioner” may apply to a professional who provides many different types of services to patients or clients.
Holistic health practitioners may combine several different kinds of alternative therapies as standard parts of their practices. For instance, many various forms of holistic health practices exist, including massage therapy, reflexology, nutritional counseling, acupressure, herbology, yoga, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), polarity, and acupuncture. Others may be offered, as well. A holistic health practitioner must utilize safe methods of diagnosis and treatment. During diagnosis and treatment, the professional must stress attending to the well being of the patient’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual state. Natural, alternative methods of healing and treatment are the emphasis for holistic health practices.
Many years ago, medical practices such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic medicine were considered weird, taboo, and simply a bunch of “hocus pocus.” Many compared the alternative therapies to those practiced by witch doctors or voodoo queens. However, as time has worn on, people have become much more accepting of holistic medicine and holistic health practitioners. It is commonplace in today’s society for people to seek out homeopathic medicines, probiotics, herbal medicines, aromatherapy, supplements, and health elixirs. Chiropractic medicine, Reiki, and massage therapy are now standard forms of health care. According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, over 38 percent of adult Americans use some sort of complementary or alternative medicine, including biofeedback, energy healing, meditation, or hypnotherapy.
It takes someone special to be a holistic health practitioner. In order to be effective as a holistic health professional, it’s important to be committed to lifelong learning and be curious and open-minded, realizing that there’s always something new to learn. Additionally, they are sensitive and compassionate to their clients’ needs and concerns. Good communication skills and listening abilities are necessary in order to properly diagnose a patient’s problems and devise the correct form of treatment. A competent holistic health practitioner must also be highly observant and detail-oriented. Finally, they must be attentive to their own health and wellness. Patients always give credibility to practitioners who practice holistic health therapies on themselves in order to enhance, maintain, and promote their own levels of health and well being.
Holistic health practitioners must be knowledgeable in many different subjects in order to fully diagnose and offer treatment to their patients. Some subjects that may be required knowledge include:
- Human energy healing systems
- Stress management and relaxation techniques
- Anatomy and physiology
- Nutrition and body chemistry
- Natural remedies, such as herbs, homeopathic preparation, and essential oils
- Spirituality in healing
- Therapeutic touch and bodywork
Depending on the specialty that a holistic health practitioner offers, many subjects may be required for competency.
Holistic health practitioners must complete the educational prerequisites in order to be effective professionals and to become certified and licensed. Many schools that focus on holistic medicine may offer degrees or certificate programs in general holistic health. However, those who wish to specialize must focus their educational program to include extensive knowledge in various fields. For instance, someone who wishes to become an herbalist must learn about plants, contraindications, and preparation. A massage therapist must study Swedish massage, massage theory and techniques, and kinesiology, to name just a few subjects. Many states require holistic health practitioners to become licensed in order to practice their professions within the state boundaries. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists, for example, must become licensed in most states in the U.S. before being able to legally practice their skills.