By Carl Munson
If, like natural health writer Carl Munson, you’ve ever noticed advertisements for holistic therapy training by distance learning and wondered how it all works and how good the quality of training is, read on…
With an ever increasing number of holistic distance learning schools and colleges springing up offering a bewildering range of courses, how can a prospective student know that they are getting the best quality and value?
Motivation might be a good place to start, as Peter White, Principal at one of the UK’s longest-standing schools points out: “Firstly you should decide why you wish to study the subject, is it purely for interest? Or do you want to develop a career in holistic therapies?” he asks. ”As a general rule diploma courses are designed for professional training for the growing numbers who want to make a living in complementary therapies. Diplomas may also be of interest to those wishing to acquire a general knowledge of the chosen subject, but certificates and introductory workshops may suffice for people not looking to practice.”
Having decided on the type of course you want to do, it’s important to look for a school that is accredited by an officially recognised body, not merely a self-interest group or self-appointed pseudo-body. The Open & Distance Learning Quality Council, based in London, is the leading body in the United Kingdom for the accreditation of distance learning colleges and is supported by the UK Government.
Following the introduction of voluntary regulation for many complementary therapies in recent years it is also important that the school or college you chose is working with the appropriate regulatory bodies. This will safeguard your interests should you later wish to join any voluntary register that you may be eligible for upon completion of your course.
“It’s also a good idea to make sure the establishment you choose lists the names and qualifications of the tutors who will be supporting your studies,” adds Peter White. “Amazingly some schools and colleges offer a diverse range of courses without ever mentioning anything about who will be assessing your work. Some remarkably don’t even have any fully qualified tutors.”
Another key consideration is ensuring that - if you are wishing to make a career of your newly acquired knowledge - having successfully completed your studies, your diploma will enable you to obtain professional indemnity insurance from a leading insurer.
On the sometimes vexed question of whether it’s possible to successfully study a holistic therapy by distance learning, experts seem to agree that whilst a great deal of knowledge can be acquired by studying at home, if you are planning to use your qualification to practice professionally, then it will be necessary to attend some hands-on workshops where your technique can be assessed and corrected where necessary.
Naturally, you would not want to be treated by someone who had never been observed by a qualified professional and voluntary registers, once established, will almost certainly demand some on-site attendance. Choose a school that backs up high quality home study with accessible and cost-effective workshop attendance. Find one that runs regular workshops and ensure that they are happy for you visit their premises and meet the personnel involved including your would-be tutors. Good schools will even put you in touch with existing students who can give you an unbiased, third-party perspective.
Hopefully these simple guidelines will not only ensure your own personal satisfaction, but will also help to improve the general standards of training in complementary therapy. As greater numbers of people turn towards more holistic forms of healing, it’s important that the great therapeutic traditions and disciplines are imparted not only skilfully, but with integrity and a high level of professionalism.
Good luck with you studies. Who knows? It may one day be my pleasure to find myself under the influence of your healing hands or insight.