Thursday, January 22, 2009

Avoiding "Cowboy Therapists"

For those who are concerned with the qualifications of holistic practitioners, the UK is beginning a mandatory registry for companies offering those services.

It will not judge clinics on whether therapies are effective, but rather on whether they operate a professional and safe business. Maggie Dunn, co-chairman of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), said it was time customers were given proper assurances.

Will the US follow suit? Our government already regulates other industries-- spas, salons, nutritionists. But herbal medicine practitioners and yoga therapists are largely overlooked by the government. Naturopathy is licensed on a state-by-state basis, with some states having no licensing requirements at all.

Here are some other tips while searhcing for a natural practitioner:
1. Credentials. Ask them where their degree or certificate is from! No legitimate natural pratitioner (yoga instructor, naturopathic pratcitioner, etc.) will be offended by a potential client asking questions.
2. Insured. Malpractice insurance does more than protect you in the event that something goes wrong. If your practitioner doesn't have malpractice insurance it could mean that he or she doesn't qualify. Ask yourself, "Why?"
3. Openness to ideas. No legitimate practitioner will deny a client information about mainstream medicine. If your naturopath is locked in on the idea "natural" medicine only and can't acknowledge that technology-based medicine has a place in your health care, be wary.

And for finding holistic medicine information on the internet, the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego published these comprehensive guidelines.

Remember, "natural" doesn't mean "anti-science". Leaders in the field read and write peer-reviewed research papers just like their mainstream counterparts do. A legitimate therapist is, after all, a scientist, too.


Jennifer said...

I agree that the US should enforce specific credentials for therapists. The public should have some general guidelines to follow when making choices concerning body and health.

Sean Ellis said...

Incensed that the CNHC has no requirements for efficacy or safety? Sign the petition at