Finding the right holistic therapist or practitioner can feel like a daunting task. However, we recommend doing your homework by taking into account their qualifications, experience, cost, location, and availability – we assure you it will be worth the effort to find a therapist that works well for you in the long run!
Find a Complementary Therapist | How do I choose a holistic therapist? | What can I expect during treatment? | How much will it cost?
Find a Complementary Therapist
How do I choose a holistic therapist?
Now that you have explored the different types of holistic therapy (also known as complementary therapy) available and taken a decision on which ones (if any) to take further, it is time to find a therapist (also known as a practitioner).
Getting a referral from a friend or family member is a good way to find a trustworthy holistic practitioner − especially if they have had symptoms similar to yours. Many holistic therapists work alongside conventional doctors, so it’s also a good idea to ask your GP or regular health provider for a recommendation.
However, booking an holistic therapist / practitioner is often not as straightforward as simply getting a referral from your GP. There are often additional considerations to make especially given your own personal circumstances, and lack of regulations and NHS coverage. For instance, questions about whether a therapist / practitioner has the correct qualifications, what to expect during an appointment as well as how to finance treatment should be addressed.
What should I look for in a holistic therapist?
At present, most holistic health therapists or practitioners are not regulated in the UK with the exception of chiropractors, chiropodists, osteopaths and physiotherapists. This means that anyone could technically call themselves a therapist or practitioner of a non-regulated holistic therapy as there are no laws stipulating the level of training and experience to practise. To circumvent this many holistic therapists chose to register with a voluntary professional body without statutory status.
How can I be assured of a therapist’s competence?
For regulated therapies such as chiropractors, chiropodists, osteopaths and physiotherapists, you can be confident that he or she meets the required standards as this is set by the professional bodies and required by law.
Many unregulated therapies have professional associations that keep a register of qualified therapists or practitioners. As a member of an association, therapists must meet certain training requirements, participate in continued education, and abide by a code of ethics.
You can also start to look at their website and social media channels and Googling their name. Here you can read reviews and testimonials from previous clients, find out where they trained, what their qualifications are, and see if they have specific areas of interest.
What is a professional association?
A professional association or body can either be mandatory or voluntary, however both play a role in regulating a holistic therapy industry. In order to join a professional body, practitioners are required to meet and maintain certain requirements including minimum level of qualifications and experience set by the body as well as abide by a code of ethics and complaints process.
As such, if you have any fears regarding the competence of a therapist, we recommend selecting a therapist that is a member of a professional registration body such as:
- The Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapies (GRCCT)
- The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT)
- The Complementary Therapists Association (CThA)
What qualifications and experience should they have?
Professional association and bodies have strict entry requirements stipulating a minimum level of qualifications and experience for its members. As such, if the therapists you are considering is a member of a professional body or association you can be comfortable that he or she has an appropriate level of experience and qualifications.
Some organisations have different levels of membership, with only the most experienced and qualified able to perform certain treatment activities. For instance, the British Association of Accredited Ayurvedic Practitioners has multiple tiers of membership. Only those in the top tiers can diagnose conditions and prescribe treatment, whereas members from lower tiers are able to offer nutrition advice and ayurvedic massages.
What traits should I look for in a therapist?
Find a holistic therapist who is trustworthy, communicative, experienced, and understands your symptoms/health condition.
Email or phone the therapist to find out their level of experience and if they’ve had success working with people with the same symptoms as you. In addition, a holistic therapist should be comfortable working alongside your GP and other allopathic healthcare therapist.
You want a therapist who makes you feel comfortable, respected, and safe during appointments. If you don’t trust your therapist, you’re less likely to have a positive outcome! A holistic therapist should have a gentle bedside manner and a good rapport with clients. Make sure they have important qualities like empathy, compassion, and listening skills.
What other factors should I consider when choosing a therapist?
Waiting time and office hours are important factors when choosing a therapist. You want someone who can see you within a reasonable amount of time, who can accommodate your schedule and doesn’t have a long waiting list.
Whether it’s a telephone appointment, a video call, or a face-to-face appointment, ensure your choice of appointment is offered by the therapist.
If you have a face-to-face appointment, find out the following:
- The address/directions to the practice
- Are they located in a convenient area?
- Is the practice located near public transport routes?
- Do they have parking nearby and is there a parking fee?
- If you have a disability, check if they have disabled parking bays and if the rooms are wheelchair accessible
- Should you wear anything specific during an appointment?
We also suggest asking the following questions before committing to an appointment:
- Is there evidence to support the effectiveness of this treatment for my condition?
- Are there any side effects of this therapy?
- When is payment expected?
- Can I try a session before I commit financially?
Unfortunately, many therapies are unregulated and there are false marketing claims out there, leaving people vulnerable to scams. Red flags include people who claim to have the cure for a disease or condition and offer unrealistic promises without evidence.
Once you’ve compiled a list of therapist from recommendations and research, compare the therapists in the following areas:
- Level of education
- Registration with a professional body
- Online ratings
- Experience treating people with similar symptoms as you
What can I expect during treatment?
It is a good idea to understand how treatment is likely to work. This will ensure that you can be prepared and there are not any surprises. Although all holistic therapies follow different approaches there are some similarities between many of them. For more details on treatment for specific therapies, refer to our section on individual therapies. It is important to note that approaches can even vary slightly between practitioners of the same therapy.
It is often the case that you will have a first consultation followed by a course of treatment. The treatment will take the form of medication, changes to diet and lifestyle, in-person treatment or a combination of all three.
The first consultation typically lasts up to 60 minutes. For many forms of therapy, the therapist will ask you questions to build up a full picture of your lifestyle, health history and existing conditions. The consultation may also involve some physical examinations. Based on the outcome of the questions and examinations, your therapist / practitioner will devise a personalised treatment plan.
Look for a therapist / practitioner who offers a free ‘discovery’ call or pre-appointment meeting, which allows you to find out more about the therapy and treatments. This is an opportunity to see if you feel comfortable with the therapist / practitioner.
How many appointments will I need?
The number of appointments required can vary substantially based on the type of therapy and your condition. For more information on appointments required for different therapies, refer to our section on individual therapies.
What happens during subsequent appointments?
Again subsequent appointments can vary substantially based on the type of therapy and your condition.
For more information on what you could expect, refer to our section on individual therapies.
How much will it cost?
Therapy cost is an important factor to consider when choosing a therapist.
Holistic therapies like acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and osteopathy are becoming available on the NHS or through private health insurance. Although it’s only in certain cases and you will need to be referred by a GP. It’s a good idea to talk to your GP to see what is available in your area. You can also speak to your health insurance company to find out if any holistic therapies are covered and if so, what percentage of the cost is covered.
Make sure to enquire about the following information to budget for treatment:
- The cost of the initial appointment and follow up appointments
- How many sessions you will likely require
- Potential hidden costs (i.e. herbal medicine, homeopathic remedies, supplements, functional testing)?
- Is there a charge for cancellations?
- Do they offer sliding scale fees based on what you can afford?
- What forms of payment are accepted?