3 Promising Alternative Therapy Career Paths

In the modern world, Americans relieve stress and treat pain in many different ways. Some are as orthodox as getting a doctor’s prescription or joining a psychology support group, and others, like acupuncture and homeopathy, are considered alternative or complementary medicines.

If you’re interested in helping others relieve stress and treat pain, as well as enjoy a greater sense of well-being, but don’t want to dedicate many years of your life to go to medical school, you might be interested in looking into getting licensed and certified in an alternative therapy modality.

Here are three alternative medicine careers to consider:

  1. Massage Therapy.

As a massage therapist, you’ll learn how to manipulate muscles and soft tissue to relieve clients of stress and tension, improve circulation, and help heal injuries. After talking to clients about their symptoms and understanding their medical history, you’ll evaluate what painful or tense areas to work on. After a session, you may provide guidance on relaxation habits, posture improvement, and stretching and toning exercises. You will also document and record their progress.

Many career options are available upon licensing. You could work for someone a spa, a clinic, a physician, a hotel, or a fitness center. You could also create your own practice and either set up your own office, equipping it with tables and chairs, sheets and linen, and oils and body lotions or travel to homes and offices with portable massage equipment. When acquiring your equipment--massage chairs, portable massage tables, foldable travel carts, etc.--it's always a good idea to get it from a store like Living Earth Crafts that will not only work with your budget but also offer you a selection of top-patented designs from reputable names like Spirit, Sonoma, and Luna.

Admission to a massage school requires a high school diploma or an equivalent, and the requirements to qualify as a massage therapist will vary from one state to another, but they usually necessitate 500 or more hours of classroom study and hands-on practice before state licensing or certification. Classes include a study of anatomy; physiology, kinesiology, and pathology, as well as some courses in business management and ethics. A state may have its own specific examination for licensing or you may have to take the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) which is offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

  1. Acupuncture:

If you’re interested in an ancient medical technique like acupuncture, your work will consist of regulating the flow of Qi. Unlike Western medicine, there is an emphasis placed on the flow of vital energy rather than on biochemical processes. While your main healing tools will be fine needles, you will also use others, like cups and earballs. Your primary work with patients will consist of rebalancing their energy to improve their general health, assist with physical issues and relieve psychological concerns.

While some schools don’t require an undergraduate degree, those accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) will insist on at least two years of undergrad work. In most cases, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree when you enroll in an acupuncture school that offers master’s or doctorate programs. After your degree, you will need to take the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) exam to get licensed.

  1. Chiropractors:

As a chiropractor, you will treat health problems related to the neuromusculoskeletal system. Using spinal adjustments, you will relieve patients of pain. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which is a Federal Government agency for scientific research on alternative medicines, “Most research on chiropractic has focused on spinal manipulation. Spinal manipulation appears to benefit some people with low-back pain and may also be helpful for headaches, neck pain, upper- and lower-extremity joint conditions, and whiplash-associated disorders.”

In order to be admitted to a Chiropractic school, you will need at least 3 years of undergraduate work. It will take four years to earn your Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, after which you will have to sit for a state license exam.

Greater Public Acceptance

Society and even health care professionals themselves are becoming more open to the benefits of alternative medicine, particularly those like massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractics that have been scientifically studied over many years.