Recent years have seen a definite increase in the number of individuals moving towards choosing to visit natural healthcare practitioners. Whilst the exact reasons behind this shift are unknown, it is thought that rising prescription costs, the ‘postcode lottery’ and frequent NHS budget cuts are all contributing factors.
Though an increased interest in natural healthcare is a positive progression for the industry, both the public and medical professionals alike are becoming increasingly concerned about the safe practice and efficacy of complementary therapies.
As it stands there are very few complementary and alternative therapies that are subject to statutory regulation within the UK. However, when searching for and selecting a suitable practitioner it is important to know your personal safety and health are in the hands of a suitably qualified individual who is working to good standards of practice.
Whilst practitioners are under no legal obligation to do so, they can opt to register with a self-regulating professional organisation. Usually, organisations such as these will have developed their own set of eligibility requirements which all potential members must meet before they are able to join.
Generally the requirements will differ somewhat between organisations, but by large most will stipulate that individuals must provide proof of a minimum level of training and experience, and also that they must agree to abide by the associations code of ethics and complaints procedure.
What is a multidisciplinary body/organisation?
Here at Therapy Directory we have seen either proof of a relevant qualification and insurance cover, or proof of registration with a professional body from all of our members. We accept various different professional organisations, some of which cover just one single therapy, and others which act as multidisciplinary bodies and regulate numerous professions.
Below you can find some of the multidisciplinary bodies for complementary and alternative therapists within the UK, including information about the professions they cover and eligibility requirements. Whilst we endeavour to keep this information up to date, it is subject to change so we recommend that you visit the individual websites for full details. This list is not exhaustive;
The CNHC is a government backed professional organisation set-up to regulate the following complementary therapies:
- alexander technique teaching
- bowen therapy
- massage therapy
- microsystems acupuncture
- nutritional therapy
- sports therapy
- yoga therapy.
The purpose of the CNHC is to both protect the public from untrained and inexperienced practitioners, whilst also endeavouring to work with complementary therapy professionals to maintain and improve standards within the industry.
The CNHC is also there to provide support to the practitioners themselves, by means of setting standards (in line with National Occupational Standards) and by providing information and advice regarding courses, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and insurance services.
In terms of eligibility criteria, the CNHC have developed a set of standards for each discipline they regulate, and will only allow individuals who have met these standards onto the register. The criteria stipulates that practitioners must have undertaken an appropriate level of training and acquired an adequate level of skill and experience.
Where possible, the Department of Health have recommended that individuals always consult with a CNHC registered practitioner where possible.
The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) is a leading professional association for complementary, beauty and sports therapists operating within the UK and Ireland.
The complementary therapies regulated by the federation include; acupuncture, alexander technique, aromatherapy, bowen technique, crystal therapy, homeopathy, naturopathy, reflexology, reiki, various types of massage and yoga therapy.
The aim of the FHT is to promote the efficacy and benefits of complementary therapy whilst also ensuring that the public are protected from unqualified practitioners.
The federation offer various membership categories including the following:
FHT Fellow - The highest level of membership that is only bestowed upon members who can show evidence of outstanding contributions within both the FHT and their therapy industry.
FHT Member - This membership level is open to practitioners who provide proof of a nationally recognised qualification, in a therapy that is accepted by FHT. All full members are required to complete Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
FHT Associate - This membership level is open to therapists who do not wish to complete Continuing Professional Development.
FHT Student member - Open to individuals studying for a nationally recognised therapy qualification.
FHT Non-practitioner - Open to individuals who are not currently practicing but still wish to stay informed of any industry developments.
The federation have also developed their own Code of Ethics and Professional Practice by which members must abide if they wish to join and remain on the register.
This multidisciplinary organisation was established in 1986 with the primary aim of representing practitioners of complementary medicine who are highly trained and experienced.
The association invites practitioners qualified in the following therapies to join; massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, acupressure and body realignment.
There are five different membership categories of the APNT:
Student membership - For members who are undertaking a course.
Associate membership - Open to non-practicing therapists.
Affiliated membership - Open to therapists who are not APNT qualified but who have satisfied the Executive Committee of their knowledge, experience and competence.
Full membership - Open to individuals who have passed the APNT examinations or have satisfied the grandfather clause laid down by the British Massage Therapy Council, which exempts therapists with three or more years experience from professional training requirements.
Corporate membership - For organisations wishing to support the Association.
The association also have their own Code of Ethics and complaints procedure by which members must abide.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is a statutory regulator set up to protect the public. The HCPC currently regulate 15 different health professions:
- arts therapists
- biomedical scientists
- clinical scientists
- hearing aid dispensers
- occupational therapists
- operating department practitioners
- practitioner psychologists
- speech and language therapists.
All professions subject to HCPC regulation have at least one professional title protected by law, meaning that an individual wishing to use said title must be registered with the council in order to refer to themselves as such in a professional capacity. Unregistered individuals who use the protected titles may face prosecution.
In order to register with the council individuals must meet certain standards set for their profession. Standards are broken down into the following categories:
- Character – The HCPC requires a character reference from everyone wishing to join to the register and someone of ‘professional standing in the community’ must sign it.
- Health – Registrants must complete a health declaration to confirm that they do not have a condition that may impact their ability to practice safely and effectively.
- Standards of proficiency – These are professional standards that all registrants must meet in order to join and remain on the register.
- Standards of conduct, performance and ethics – The ethical framework within which all registrants must work.
- Standards for continuing professional development – Continuing professional development is any additional learning undertaken in addition to a practitioner’s original qualification. CPD is an important factor in a members continuing registration as it ensures that practitioners continue to develop their skillset and expertise so that they can practice safely, effectively and legally.
- Standards of education and training – These are the standards by which the council assess training and education programmes in order to be approved.
The council have an online register allowing the public to check if their health professional is registered and there is also a stringent complaints procedure for health professionals that do not meet the HCPC standards.
The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) is an independent, public register who provide a regulation system for instructors and trainers within the sport and fitness industry in order to ensure that they meet the industry's agreed National Occupational Standards.
REPs provide comfort and reassurance to the public that all health and fitness instructors listed on their website are qualified, knowledgable and in possession of the necessary skills required in order to deliver the health and fitness training effectively.
The Guild runs three Professional Registers for beauty therapists, holistic therapists and nail technicians. The Guild only lists therapists who have been independently verified by the industry trade body as being suitably qualified and insured to carry out treatments safely and effectively. There are several different member categories, including the following:
- Student membership - Student membership is specifically designed for students who are currently studying and wish to obtain insurance to carry out case studies on non paying client’s (family and friends) for a select few treatments only.