Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies are approaches to healthcare which people use as a complement to conventional care.  They are used in addition to and not instead of seeking medical advice from a doctor or taking prescribed medication.

Examples of these approaches could include, for instance, acupuncture, Alexander Technique teaching, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, massage therapy, reflexology and yoga therapy.

Around one in five people in the UK have used some form of complementary healthcare and there is a great deal of public interest in the subject.

Choosing a practitioner

When considering using complementary therapy it is important to choose a qualified practitioner who has undertaken all the necessary training to understand the theory and practice of the discipline concerned.

The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) is the UK regulator for complementary healthcare practitioners that was set up with government funding and support. The CNHC provides a register of practitioners that have been assessed as meeting national standards of competence and practice. You may find practitioners from the following disciplines by searching the CNHC”s register.

-    Alexander Technique teaching
-    Aromatherapy
-    Bowen therapy
-    Massage therapy
-    Naturopathy
-    Nutritional therapy
-    Reflexology
-    Shiatsu
-    Sports & remedial therapy
-    Yoga therapy

Registration is currently voluntary and not all complementary healthcare practitioners from these disciplines are yet registered. This does not necessarily mean that they are not qualified, but it does mean that the CNHC knows nothing about their qualifications, professional background, knowledge and / or experience.

The Department of Health has recommended that members of the public consult with a CNHC-registered professional, where CNHC registers the professional discipline concerned. Where CNHC does not currently register a discipline (such as acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy) it is advisable to seek advice from a relevant professional association.

The CNHC will open the register to more therapies as they become ready and wish to register. Check the CNHC website for up to date details.

The Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) Quality Mark

Registered practitioners are able to use the CNHC quality mark on certificates and publicity materials. You can look to see if a practitioner is displaying a current certificate with the CNHC quality mark in their place of work or on promotional literature such as leaflets, headed notepaper or on their website.

If in any doubt as to whether a practitioner is registered, you can search CNHC”s online register. Use the “Check the Register” facility on the CNHC website. To find out more about the CNHC visit www.cnhc.org.uk or call 0203 178 2199

This page was sponsored by the CNHC.