How to Become a Holistic Consultant

Overview

There is increasing interest in holistic health, defined as a wellness approach that addresses the body, mind and spirit of an individual. The holistic approach to health integrates these aspects in discovering and treating the underlying cause of symptoms. Holistic healthcare can be complimentary to traditional medicine, or the approach can be used as an alternative and natural treatment. According to the National Institute of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH-NCCAM), the Federal Government’s key agency for scientific research on health interventions, there is a growing use of complementary health approaches among the public. Complementary holistic health strategies include the use of natural products, deep breathing, meditation, chiropractic, massage, yoga, diet-based therapies, progressive relaxation, guided imagery and homeopathic treatment. This career path is still developing and it is not as closely regulated as other careers in the healthcare field. Licensing may not be required.

Work Environment

Holistic health consultants work in traditional health settings including hospitals, private medical offices and public health agencies. The current expanding interest in preventive healthcare services addressed by holistic consultants is expected to lead to opportunities in such venues as corporate wellness centers, college health services, insurance agencies and pharmaceutical companies.

Requirements

Education

The requirements to become a holistic consultant, sometimes called natural healing practitioner, vary widely. There are online courses such as the program offered by Blue Heron Academy of Healing Arts and Sciences that provides a program in holistic healthcare with training in nutrition, diet, physical fitness assessment and stress management. Coursework includes topics like the ethics of the profession, the relationship between disease and behavior, models of positive change and wellness training. At the other end of the educational spectrum are university programs that confer a bachelor’s degree like Kaplan University’s Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness, which uses the mind-body-spirit approach to healthcare. Students learn how to evaluate scientific literature and current research in wellness, prevention and complementary healthcare. They receive instruction on educating the public on an individual basis and in communities, develop professional skills and complete a project with real-world scenarios. Participants complete 180 credits.

Licensing and Certification

Licensing requirements for certification as a holistic consultant vary from state to state. The two main organizations that offer certification are the National Association of Certified Natural Health Professionals, Inc. (CNHP), and the American Council of Holistic Medicine (ACHM). The CNHP requires applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent to complete 5 semesters of coursework offered by the organization. Topics including nutrition and body systems are covered in seminars that combine lectures with hands-on applications of natural health techniques.

The American Council of Holistic Medicine offers a more rigorous course of study. This certifying agency recognizes different levels of expertise, education and specialties in the field of alternative medicine. Before entering the program, applicants must have the prerequisites of a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 120 hours of hands-on experience in the field. The credits are transferable to other top natural health schools. According to the ACHM, board certification showcases an individual’s experience and education and can lead to employment opportunities. Certification classifications include integrative/alternative medicine, holistic nutrition and holistic health. Certification is at the consultant level, where the candidate possesses a diploma in the natural healing arts from an established institution, and the diplomate level, where the candidate is a clinical practitioner with an advanced degree in natural healing modalities.

Skills and Qualities

Holistic consultants should be team players and exercise good judgment. They need excellent interpersonal communication skills, compassion, a desire to serve others and patience. Holistic consultants should be supportive and encouraging, have the ability to educate people, and maintain professionalism in the client relationships.

Opportunities for Advancement

The demand for health educators is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the American Council of Holistic Medicine, many insurance companies include natural health practitioners in their networks

Salary

According to Simply Hired, the average holistic health consultant salary was $64,000 in 2013.

Related Reading

Further Reading

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