At the present time in the United Kingdom there is little legal or regulatory mechanisms that may be applied to alternative health practitioners. The existing controls are applied to the practice of conventional medicine. Literally anyone may set themselves up as a therapist and offer services to the public. We believe that regulation must be introduced quickly and the way forward is by ethics led regulation.

We believe:

  • The Alternative Health profession should be concerned about promoting the interests of those members of the public who seek its help.
  • Membership of the profession should be restricted to those practitioners who undertake approved training, subscribe to professional principles and an ethical code of conduct as laid down by the governing body for their discipline in the UK. They must have substantial clinical experience, undertake regular in-service training and accept the principle and practice of professional supervision and professional practice inspection.
  • Legislation is overdue in the UK in regard to the practice of alternative health therapy and complementary medicine and will be welcomed when it is introduced.
  • Until legislation is introduced, the average member of the public seeking advice or treatment for a specific condition from an alternative health practitioner in the UK is at somewhat of a disadvantage.
  • How does this member of the public recognise a practitioner whose practice is based upon ethical principles from the rest? A good place to start is to ask the practitioner for a copy of their ethical code of conduct as laid down by their professional association. If the practitioner cannot produce one then you are advised to seek another practitioner.

Please don't get the impression that the Alternative Health profession is full of 'rogues and charlatans'. There are many wonderful practitioners who have their clients interests and well-being close to heart and who work extremely hard to achieve positive results for their clients. But, as with any profession, there is always the exception. No professional practitioner will mind answering any of the questions below and will be pleased to provide you with appropriate answers. Indeed, such demands from prospective clients are welcomed because the Alternative Health profession is genuinely concerned about promoting the interests of the profession and those members of the public who seek its help.

Ask the practitioner :

  • What are their qualifications, which course did they undertake and how long was the training ?
  • When did they undertake their training ?
  • Are they a member of a recognised, registered body which lays down specific codes of practice ?
  • What postgraduate training have they undertaken since graduation?
  • Can they provide you with the details of their claims so that you may check ?
  • Are your records discussed with anyone else ?
  • What is the cost of treatment ?
  • How many treatments should you expect ?
  • What insurance cover does the therapist have ?
  • Do they have a copy of their ethical code of conduct which you can take away ?

As a guide for members of the public who may perhaps have never seen an ethical code of professional conduct before, the Alternative Health Service has put one together which should bear a resemblance to the codes of practice that any of the professional associations expect their practitioners to adhere to.

A Code of Ethics and Professional Practice

Each Practitioner/Therapist Shall act at all times in such a manner as to:

  • safeguard and promote the interests of the client
  • justify public trust and confidence
  • uphold the standing and reputation of the alterantive health professions

As an alternative health practitioner you are personally accountable for your practice and in the exercise of your profession must:

  • ensure that no action or omission on your part, or within your sphere of professional or personal life is detrimental to the interests, condition or safety of clients or the profession.
  • use those skills and abilities commensurate with your trained competence to the best advantage for your client, without prejudice and with due recognition of the value and dignity of every human being.
  • avoid any abuse of the privileged relationship with your client and of the privileged access to their person, property or residence.
  • protect all confidential information concering the client obtained in the course of professional practice and to disclose such information only with consent, where required to do so under order of a court or where you can justify such disclosure in the wider public interest
  • disclose your qualifications when requested and not make claim to or imply qualifications you do not possess. Physical eveidence of such qualifications claimed should be made available to any legitimate enquirer.
  • work in an open, collaborative and co-operative manner with other health care profesionals.
  • maintain and improve your own professional knowledge and competence, acknowledging any limitations and declining therapy unless able to perform therapy in a safe and skilled manner
  • maintain appropriate and adequate indemnity assurance for all professional work
  • restrict advertising to dignified wording and not make claim for cures

The above should form the core of any ethical code of conduct and there may be further requirements e.g. for practitioners of Hypnotherapy there should be the requirement for practitioners to agree not to provide public shows, performances or displays for entertainment.

Finally, there should be a recognised complaints procedure and the ability for the professional organisation to remove the practitioner from any register in the case of non compliance with the code of conduct.