How can I become legitimately certified to become a holistic health practitioner?

It’s a reasonable question that deserves an honest answer.

People generally want to know if they can become ‘certified’ or licensed in the same manner as massage therapists or realtors because naturally, —people want credibility.

However, when it comes to understanding the subtleties between certification and licensure, people are generally unfamiliar with the actual differences as it relates to holistic medicine practitioners and schools for natural healing, like the School of Holistic Medicine.

Despite some natural medicine schools who offer ‘certification’ or ‘certified’ programs, the fact is, there are no certifying bodies or licensing agencies—of any kind—for schools of holistic medicine.

This includes professions like aromatherapy, traditional naturopathy, clinical herbalism, and even iridology. There are a few exceptions when it comes to nutrition, however, that is a different article for another day.

Regarding certifications in these other areas, you have probably come across ‘certified’ aromatherapy courses and such —but, it’s not exactly the same thing as being certified in something like CPR, for example.

Similarly, you may have seen claims that you’re working with a ‘certified’ holistic health practitioner. 

Even here at the School of Holistic Medicine, for those who can’t practice naturopathy in their state, we allow our graduates to alternately use ‘Certified Holistic Health Practitioner’ (CHHP).

We also allow this title to those who prefer it over Doctor of Traditional Naturopathy (DTN).

When you see ‘certified’ attached to a title in holistic medicine, what does it mean then?

It means that the title belongs to someone who took a course and got a private certification, from a private institution, stating that they took a class and—hopefully—did well and passed.

This ‘certification’ process is not a state regulated process—which tends to be what people are essentially looking for when they seek out any kind of certification, right? 

For example, not just anyone can practice real estate without taking the required courses and passing mandatory tests to qualify for and obtain state licensure. The same goes for most massage therapists, CPR, and vocational careers.

Certification, as defined below, implies that there are recognized and established industry standards involved.

Meanwhile, with holistic medicine, there aren’t any of these agreed industry standards because they are unregulated industries and unregulated professions.

For example, if someone attends law school and moves across state lines, they will still possess all of the same knowledge required of all attorneys, who are (by law) required to meet specific educational standards determined by the state or federal government. 

This is the case no matter where the person lives.

Sure, the traveling lawyer may need to take the bar again for state licensure, but everyone who is in this regulated industry is basically taught the same thing.

That’s what regulated industry standards are —standards of practice set by those in positions of authority which follow strict guidelines for education and continuing practice. 

It would be highly unusual to have a lawyer who knew some things and not others, but that is what would happen the practice of law was an unregulated industry.

Such is not the case in holistic medicine and natural health industries, whose practitioner’s education varies widely!

As just one small example, herbalists living in different climates and regions will focus on different plants. While part of the education is the same across the field, each holistic educator has room to teach their own way, based on their own skills and experience, which is good I believe. 

This means you can see two different traditional naturopaths, for example, with wildly different skill sets and capability.

This is where education vs. accreditation makes the difference.

Is the accredited school actually better because it’s ‘professionally accredited’ (see more about accreditation in our FAQ), —or is the non-accredited school better because their programs are more engaging and throurough? 

Can you see that there is a beauty to being unregulated in that, we can all shine in our own ways without being burdened with the concept of standardization.

Whereas with industries such as law and medicine, regulation is greatly needed for other’s safety?

In any case, hopefully, you have a better understanding of certification and licensure.

Lastly, individuals who reside within the United States may practice aromatherapy, iridology, traditional naturopathy, clinical herbalism, or be a health coach with or without an educational program and can legally charge for their services.  

It doesn’t necessarily mean someone should practice without an education, nor does it make someone qualified. It just means they can, technically speaking. 

We would also like to note that there are pioneering herbalists like Stephen Harrod Buhner and Susun Weed, who are completely self-taught masters.

Each have authored incredible books, as well and made names for themselves in this industry with no education. If you are called, you are called!

You also could be an incredible source of knowledge and a light worker with no formal training or education. You of course still incredibly worthy of practicing your craft. 

Education is optional but available for those aren’t sure of their area of expertise or who just want to build lifelong community with an alma mater.

The point is, certification isn’t needed to practice, but you should still know what it means if you are in the industry.

For example, maybe you’ve seen alternative educators—like the one below—offer “certification” in aromatherapy and other holistic modalities.

As you can see, this school offers a long list of “certified” programs. It can be confusing!

As you can verify below from NAHA (the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) concerning aromatherapy, it is an unregulated industry. Essentially, any ‘certifications’ may require work but are complementary in title.

Is the use of ‘certification’ across the board by some schools for natural healing confusing and a little bit misleading? That’s for you to decide, but we are sure this isn’t their intention.

In all probability, they are just using the word ‘certified’ for marketing purposes because it gives the appearance of greater credibility which translates to more sales, bottom line.

In any case, we believe it is our duty to clarify this distinction and dispel some of the myths surrounding the use of the term ‘certified’ and ‘certification.’

Alternative educators do provide a certificate of completion* once a student has graduated, but this certificate of completion is not the same as a true certification as it is conventionally understood.

Although in some cases, that would be great, because the course or program you took was so incredible, but then it would imply an industry standard or requirement had to be met.

The reason this may not be ideal is that each teacher has their own unique way.

Perhaps then it’s better to learn from many teachers vs. being taught the same thing over and over with no room for growth or change as with strict standards / rules in the curriculum.

To learn more, you may want to check out Board Certification Providers for Holistic Health Practitioners & Some Interesting Facts.

This will help clear up a few things about board certification for holistic health practitioners.

Now you’re all set to go out into the world and make informed decisions regarding your holistic health education. What is the best school of natural health?

Do you want a school you can stand behind and a name you can trust? With lifetime access and continuing education, perhaps the School of Holistic Medicine is right for you!