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What are the Different Types of Holistic Career?

By Tara L. Barnes
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Holistic medicine is becoming increasingly popular and many are choosing to pursue holistic career paths instead of practicing traditional types of Western medicine. For those wishing to enter into a holistic career, it is important to understand available career options in order to find the best fit. There are a great number of types of holistic professionals including the chiropractor, acupuncturist, acupressure and homeopathy.

Chiropractors work with the musculoskeletal system, addressing various injuries and health issues by focusing on the proper functioning of the nervous system. Chiropractic is considered alternative medicine, and is controversial in many traditional medical circles. Therapies through chiropractic work are achieved by manipulation therapy, including working on the spine and other joints. In the US, chiropractors have professional degrees which typically take three years to attain. An exam is then required for licensure.

Acupuncture, a form of Chinese medicine, is considered one of the most ancient forms of holistic healing. Acupuncturists treat illnesses by inserting thin needles into specific points of the body to relieve pain. To pursue a holistic career in acupuncture in the US, extensive training and certification is required through the National Certification Commission and of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

Acupressure is another of the most common holistic therapies. It is a massage technique that applies precise pressure to parts of the body related to acupuncture points. Acupressure is a very dynamic type of holistic medicine, and can be incorporated into many types of holistic healing. Certification for acupressure can fall under the "massage" training umbrella.

Homeopathy, or homeopathic medicine, is a complete alternative medical system first created in Germany over 200 years ago. It treats symptoms of a disorder or disease with minute doses of a naturally occurring substance that, in larger doses, would produce the same symptoms of the disease being treated. Some of those pursuing a holistic career in homeopathy may find it challenging, as there are currently no uniform licensing of professional standards for homeopathic practitioners in the United States. Typically, someone practicing homeopathic medicine is also licensed in a traditional medical profession.

There are many other forms of holistic medicine and therefore many more options for those wishing to pursue a holistic career. Other types of holistic healing include aromatherapy, Ayurveda medicine, and massage. Meditation, or focused contemplation, is another type of holistic medicine, though it doesn't require a practitioner. The "patient" in this case mediates by him or herself to achieve personal development and healing.

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Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On May 04, 2013

@Fa5t3r - Unfortunately the placebo effect is more than capable of creating enough of a change in a person's health for everyone to think that a therapy is helping when, in fact, it's not.

But I don't have that much of a problem with holistic jobs and therapies. I mean, if it gives someone comfort and it's not going to do any harm, I think they should be allowed to do what they want.

It's the pharmaceutical side that bothers me. That is almost entirely unregulated and there's no way to tell if a particular remedy is what they say it is, until it's already harmed people. Unfortunately they managed to find a loophole somewhere between medicine and food and don't have the stringent checks of either.

Frankly, I wouldn't touch holistic medicine with a ten foot pole unless I plucked the leaves and prepared the brew myself.

By Fa5t3r — On May 04, 2013

@pleonasm - There have been studies that show that acupuncture can be effective if used in the right way. It makes sense, actually, because creating a tiny injury draws the body's resources to fix it, and so something like a strain can be healed faster.

I like to think that holistic physicians aren't all charlatans and that most of them just want to help people. Surely if they weren't actually doing anything they would notice after a while.

By pleonasm — On May 03, 2013

I really wish the healing term "holistic" wasn't associated with these practices. Most, if not all of them, are not anything more than wishful thinking and in some cases can actually be harmful, particularly when done by the unscrupulous.

The word "holistic" just means healing that takes everything into account, including spiritual and emotional components of health and there is plenty of scientific evidence to support the idea that these things CAN affect a person's health. Stress and negative emotions can make you sick. Being happy and kind to others can make you healthy. Even meditation has been shown over and over again to be an effective tool for increasing well being.

But that's got nothing to do with sticking needles into people.

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