FAQ’S about Holistic, Natural, Complementary and Alternative Therapies and therapists

This page will be updated from time to time as we get responses from users of the site. On this page we will identify and try to answer some of the usual questions people have about using a therapist.

Is Complementary Therapy safe?

The brief answer is yes, the longer answer is providing you do a little research ! We can say that the major therapies in the hands of trained, licensed, regulated and insured practitioners is as safe if not safer than most forms of conventional medicine.

Most of the major therapies will provide you with information about any risk associated with their work and seek your informed consent before commencing treatment. They will also advise on any temporary adverse effects and common treatment effects and give you information about after care. In the likely event of anything going wrong there will be a process for grievance handling with the practitioners professional body.

To give you some idea of the risks associated with therapies a massage practitioner might pay between £35 and £100 a year for full professional indemnity insurance, an osteopath might pay about £250 a year, a GP might be paying £3000 a year. These fees have been remarkably stable over many years, and despite society being far more litigious, serious claims against fully trained and licensed practitioners have been very small.

Is it effective?

Every year the evidence base of CAM grows, there is now an international community of researchers and practitioners who are generating Ph.D level enquiries into every aspect of CAM and the data for some therapies is at the highest level of comparison with medical science. This does not mean we have all the answers but we now know how to evaluate our work and make good judgements about the efficacy of what we do. The statement that there is ‘no evidence’ for the effectiveness of Complementary medicine has not been true for a long while.

Proving any medicine works is an elaborate and costly procedure that takes many years to complete, and even the best designed research has to replicated over many years with many different client groups to be fully accepted as ‘proven’, but we can use experience and judgement to evaluate the effectiveness of our work and defend those judgements publicly when needed.

The physical therapies are some of the better researched and we are beginning to see an international data base emerging that supports the use of physical therapy in a wide range of medical conditions either as the main treatment modality or as an important supportive, ameliorative, palliative or adjunctive therapy. For those interested in checking a little deeper into the literature the work of the Touch Research Institute of Miami University, USA is a good place to start, in England the work of the Research Council for Comlpmentary Medicine is another resource, also the Alternative and Complementary Research Network have regular conferences on CAM research as do all the International Osteopathic bodies.

What should I look for in a practitioner?

There are no hard and fast rules, but for a maximum protection and peace of mind these are some of the things you need to ask:

  • Are you registered with a national body?
  • How long have you been in practice?
  • How long was your training?
  • Have you treated many people with my condition, with what result?
  • Do you mind if I do a police check on you?
  • Are you insured?
  • What course of treatment do you think relevant?
  • How much do you charge?
  • What do I need to bring to the first consultatation?
  • What form does your consultation take?
  • Does it include a treatment?
  • What happens next?

You do not need to ask all of these questions, often the practitoner will volunteer a lot of this information and you will not need to ask or they might have a leaflet explaining their therapy that they will send you. If in doubt ask around friends and family for recommendations and information, someone you know and trust is not going to recommend anyone they think is not right for you. If that is not possible phone the national Registration Body Helpline for their list of local practitioners,

  • In the case of Osteopathy that is . . . . . . .
  • For the case of Remedial massage it is . . . . . .
  • For Hypnotherapy it is . . . . . .
  • For Allergy testing it is . . . . . .

What if something did go wrong?

See above, all licensed practitioners are accountable to their professional bodies, in my case G.Os.C and L.C.S.P, HR and BEAT, and if a case of misconduct, incompetence, or negligence is proven against a practitoner they lose their license and you are at liberty to press your cliam through the civil courts.

Generally the cases that go to court are negligible and often involve bogus practitioners, practising without a license rather than genuine practitioners, but as within any community G.P.s Dentist, Nurses, Care workers there are always some who will abuse their position and try to hide their misdemeanours. The only satisfaction here is that eventually these people get caught and punished, but CAM like any other professional activity is not immune from rogue practitioners.

How much should I be paying?

It is difficult to be exact as fee structures will be influenced by cost of premises, numbers of staff employed, location of premises, experience and seniority of the practitioner and geographical area.

I doubt whether you could get decent treatment for under £30 an hour and in London this could easily be £100 an hour, so anywhere between £45 and £75 would not be outside of a reasonable fee for osteopathic care. For remedial massage treatment the entry fee is probably around £40 an hour. Some practitioners might negotiate fees if long term care is needed, or if there is a clear indication of financial hardship — but that is entirely discretionary and involves a high level of trust to operate. Most practitioners will have a clear fee structure.

How long will the treatment last?

How long is a piece of string ? The practitioner should give you an assessment of their findings and explain their proposed treatment plan, with costs attached. If you are in agreement that becomes the treatment contract with conditions like cancellation fees etc. You are at liberty to accept or reject that plan, but it is binding as a freely negotiated contract for the professional therapist to deliver their treatment.

Often review periods are built in, or maintenance treatment scheduled for long term conditions, this is done in the sense of duty of care.

Any comments or opinions please use the email link on this website