Explore a Career in Holistic Health
Holistic health practices are becoming more mainstream, resulting in increased opportunities for those interested in the study of whole-body care.
From acupuncture and Ayurvedic medicine to massage therapy and nutrition counseling, holistic health careers are on the rise. A quick look at the news or social media shows that many people are increasingly interested in wellness and seeking out care that goes beyond a standard office visit. What was once seen as a fringe philosophy is also getting more respect from Western medicine. Together, these factors have brought holistic health into the mainstream.
“More and more states are starting to increase scope and licensure for holistic practitioners, and more mainstream institutions are starting to bring in practitioners as part of their care team to provide more comprehensive approaches to their patients’ conditions,” says Jennifer Bennett, ND, LAc, a naturopath and professor at Bastyr University. “Increased scope of insurance coverage is also helping (elevate) trust in these modalities.”
All that growth makes now a great time to get started on a holistic health career.
What Does a Career in Holistic Health Look Like?
Holistic health isn’t one specific career. Rather, it’s an overarching philosophy of treatment and patient care. Holistic health careers span a wide range. You could select a career that focuses on a specific treatment method, like massage therapy and acupuncture. If you’re looking to provide care on a broader scope, you could practice natural medicine as a naturopath.
No matter which holistic health career you choose, you’ll be guided by the same principles. All holistic health practices approach care from a mindset that includes:
In short, holistic health is healthcare that looks at a person rather than a diagnosis.
Typical Career Paths and Workplaces
There are a lot of options when it comes to working in the field of holistic health. While you can use holistic practices in just about any healthcare role, several careers are more holistic in nature than others. These are the jobs you probably think of when you think of holistic health.
If you’re looking to make holistic health your focus, rather than incorporating it into a more mainstream healthcare career, consider one of these options.
Can Western Medicine Practitioners Incorporate Holistic Practices?
Western Medicine practitioners can absolutely incorporate holistic practices into their patient care. In fact, this is becoming increasingly common. More holistic practices are being used in primary care offices and other Western medical facilities all the time. You might see this referred to as “complementary” or “integrative” medicine.
This can work in a variety of ways. For example, a psychologist might use hypnotherapy to help a patient deal with a traumatic memory, a physical therapist might use the Alexander Technique to help a patient improve their posture, and a chiropractor might use massage therapy to help a patient attain greater pain relief.
Plus, holistic methods are often used to help improve general wellness and to treat specific conditions such as:
Brittany Ferri, a New York-based occupational therapist who routinely incorporates holistic treatments into her practice and has authored a textbook on the subject, says these complementary practices add significant value to overall care.
“Holistic methods can increase patient engagement, optimize patient outcomes, and boost treatment compliance,” Ferri says. “These also empower patients to take a more active role in managing and maintaining their health condition so they can live fuller, more productive lives.”
Holistic Health: Moving into the Mainstream
The rise of holistic practice is particularly notable among cancer patients. People with cancer are increasingly using holistic methods to help address pain, nausea, and other symptoms. In fact, recent studies have found that one-third to one-half of cancer patients in the United States use some form of holistic care as part of their cancer treatment.
What Can I Earn?
With so many different careers under the holistic health umbrella, there are a wide range of salaries in the field. Your specific holistic health career, along with your experience, employer, and client base, can all make a huge impact on your salary.
Licensing and Certification
You’ll need to make sure you’ve explored required licenses and certifications before you begin your holistic health practice. They’re required for many holistic health careers in most states, but not all.
Whether or not it’s required, certification can show your future clients that you’re a trusted professional who can provide safe and effective care. Certification will depend on the career path you choose. In most cases, you’ll need to submit proof of your education and pass an exam before you can be certified.
Your holistic health education will depend on the career path you want to take. Some paths, like massage therapy, can be completed very quickly. You can earn a massage therapy certification in as little as a few weeks or choose to spend two years earning an associate degree.
Other career paths can take a much longer investment in your education. Naturopaths, for example, need to have doctoral degrees and programs are very competitive.
No matter what path you take, it’s important to make sure that your program is accredited and will allow you to practice in your state. Not all states regulate all holistic health careers, but many do. In addition to state regulations, you need to make sure your education will allow you to apply for any certification your holistic health field offers.
Written and Reported by:
With professional insight from:
Jennifer Bennett, ND, LAc
Naturopath and Professor, Bastyr University
Brittany Ferri, MS, OTR/L, CPRP
Holistic Occupational Therapist