Should I Become an Energy Therapist?
Energy therapy is a type of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) that focuses on channeling and monitoring the natural energy of the human body to promote health and well-being. There are many different types of energy therapy, including massage therapy, (healing touch, Reiki and qi gong), light therapy, and magnetic therapy. These professionals may spend many work hours standing, and providing massage therapy can be physically demanding.
Energy therapists may also be licensed medical practitioners, although this is not a requirement. Some energy therapists are also social workers, counselors, or other alternative medicine practitioners. Since there are numerous energy therapist practices, career requirements vary widely.
|Education Required||Varies; may require a postsecondary degree|
|Licensure and Certification||Licenses required by some states, certification recommended|
|Key Skills||Able to treat patients with sympathy, strong communications skills, good organizational skills, capable of solving problems, possess knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine|
|Additional Requirements||Strong enough to move or position patients, possess nimble hands to perform energy treatments and be comfortable working in awkward positions|
|Median Salary||$76,760* (for all health diagnosing and treating practitioners); $30,166** (for licensed massage therapists)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS - 2015), National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), **PayScale.com (2016)
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Steps to Become an Energy Therapist
So, how can someone become an energy therapist? There are many pathway, but we will look at some common steps one may need to take:
Step 1: Meet Professional Education Qualifications
Before becoming energy therapists, many individuals start out as other types of health or human services workers. Some start off as doctors, counselors, social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, or chiropractors. These professionals are all known for including energy therapy in their treatments. However, educational requirements for becoming any of the above job titles vary significantly. For example, doctors need a bachelor's degree and a degree in medicine, whereas massage therapists only require some postsecondary vocational training. Therefore, completing academic and career training prior to becoming an energy therapist may be a very short or a very long process.
People who know they want to include energy therapy treatments in their future careers may want to consider taking complementary and alternative medicine courses (CAM) courses early on. Classes may teach students how to incorporate energy therapy with Western medicine, whereas other classes might provide a more thorough background of energy healing practices.
Step 2: Obtain Licensing
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicin (NCCAM) indicates that licensing for energy therapists varies based on the type of energy therapy offered. For example, practitioners of Reiki, (a type of touch-based energy therapy), are not usually required to be licensed. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the majority of states require massage therapists to be licensed or registered with the state, and some states may consider Reiki as a type of massage therapy.
Energy therapists may need to obtain state licenses, but they may also need to adhere to state rules that govern unlicensed CAM practitioners. For example, the state of Minnesota does not require CAM practitioners to obtain licenses, but practitioners must make sure that patients' rights are clearly posted in each CAM establishment. CAM practitioners may have to obtain additional licenses depending on personal career choices. For instance, registered nurses who also practice energy therapy usually must first be licensed registered nurses before meeting any other energy therapy license requirements.
Step 3: Get Specific Energy Therapy Training
Some alternative medicine schools and institutes offer energy therapy training sessions. Students can get trained in multiple types of energy therapy, although some people may choose to specialize, such as only learning about healing touch energy therapy. There are many energy therapy continuing education courses that are designed for health care professionals and social workers. Potential program titles may include contemporary and alternative medicine training, energy therapy, healing touch, or bioenergy treatment. Individuals can also learn from professionals in the field through modified or formal apprenticeship programs. In addition to lectures, students learn about this field through practicing energy treatments on fellow classmates or real patients.
Step 4: Complete Certification Programs
Without a standardized licensure or credentialing system, energy therapists may want to consider earning nationally recognized certifications to help demonstrate competency in their services. Several accredited organizations provide such certification. For example, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) offers two designations: the Certified Energy Health Practitioner (CEHP) and the Diplomate, Comprehensive Energy Psychology (DCEP). For the most part, the CEHP is designed for professionals in allied health fields, whereas the DCEP is meant for licensed health care and mental health professionals.
The certification process for either the CEHP or the DCEP involves completing coursework training modules and attending hands-on workshops. While going through the training process, individuals must perform at least 50 energy therapy treatment sessions. Professionals evaluate each student's progress and skill level to determine if students have met the necessary criteria to fulfill certification requirements.
Step 5: Maintain Licenses and Certifications
Energy therapists who are required to obtain licenses, such as those who practice massage therapy, have to renew licenses every few years. Some states may require that licensed professionals complete continuing education units on a yearly basis as part of the renewal process. Depending on the state, some energy therapists may have to complete specific continuing education courses, such as those related to professional ethics or state health care laws. Besides lecture courses, some states may also require that licensed professionals complete workshops or seminars that provide hands-on training.
Generally, certified energy therapists have to go through a recertification process every so often. For instance, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology requires that every two years certified professionals complete a minimum of 12 units of continuing education coursework. Each organization has specific recertification requirements, which may include submitting paperwork, paying fees, showing proof of employment and taking exams. Energy therapists with other jobs, such as nurses, must maintain all of their professional licenses and certifications as well, especially if states have strict guidelines that only allow licensed medical professionals to practice CAM.
Step 6: Market Yourself
Energy therapists may wish to connect with a professional organization such as the Association for Comprehensive Engery Psychology (ACEP). The ACEP provides information for submitting material to one of their journals, as well as information regarding volunteering for one of their committees. In this way, energy therapists can market themselves as professionals within the field and attract new job opportunities.
Energy therapists may work in various modalities like massage therapy, Reiki, healing touch, qi gong, light therapy, or magnetic therapy. Education, licensing, and certification requirements depend on the energy therapy modality.