Resources for CAM and Integrative Practitioners
Alternative, complementary, and integrative health practices represent a world of opportunity. Complementary and alternative medicine ‘CAM’ is enjoying growing respect even from those in traditional Western medicine. Practice can be tricky, however, as professionals often find themselves asking just what credentials they need to practice the disciplines and modalities that interest them. Practitioners also seek the types of resources that professionals across disciplines benefit from at the early stages of their career — particularly those who are self-employed or are otherwise charting their own path.
Fortunately, there are plenty of organizations there to help, including professional associations, governmental agencies, and certification bodies. They provide mentorship opportunities, continuing education, information about regulatory issues, and access to research.
Some organizations will provide professionals with credentials, even adding initials to their name. They issue professional certificates which may or may not be linked to the professional regulatory process.
The following is a list of go-to organizations and websites, arranged by discipline and interest area.
The Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health (https://integrativehealth.org) boasts a core membership drawn from a group of licensed integrative health professions from massage therapy to chiropractic care). Membership also includes emerging professions and traditional world medicine disciplines that promote responsible practice and a level of regulation.
Nutrition Information and Nutrition Practice
The Center for Nutrition Advocacy (http://www.nutritionadvocacy.org) is a go-to organization for professionals who wish to provide nutrition advice outside the auspices of the American Dietetic Association. The website includes information about licensing and license-exempt activity. It also includes discussion of how scope of practice affects professionals in other disciplines (e.g. massage therapist and chiropractor) who wish to incorporate nutrition advice in their practices.
Ayuverda and Homeopathy
The National Ayuverda Medical Association provides general information about Ayuverda as well as resources for those who are interested in practice at any of the three levels (https://www.ayurvedanama.org).
The North American Society of Homeopaths (https://homeopathy.org) has a range of resources for homeopaths, including information about schools, teachers, and mentors, plus a discussion of the various industry certifications.
The American Herbalists Guild (https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com) is a membership organization for herbal practitioners; it grants the AHG Registered Herbalist credential. The organization can help future practitioners connect with mentoring opportunities; this in turn can facilitate credentialing. The website provides basic information on regulatory issues.
Bodywork and Energy Modalities
The American Massage Therapy Association (https://www.amtamassage.org/index.html) and Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (https://www.abmp.com/) are industry leading professional associations for the massage therapy profession.
The American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (https://aobta.org) is a membership organization for Asian bodywork professionals (a group that includes some practitioners who are not licensed as massage therapists). The website provides a directory of AOBTA-recognized schools.
The International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA) supports somatic movement educators and therapists (https://ismeta.org/). ISMETA has a process of approving training programs as well as registering practitioners. Institutional members include the Feldenkrais Guild of North America, the Body-Mind Centering Association, and Alexander Technique International.
The Energy Medicine Professional Association (https://www.energymedicineprofessionalassociation.com), a membership organization, can provide insurance for practitioners.
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (https://naha.org) is a membership organization that provides educational resources, networking opportunities, and the option of discounted insurance. The website includes a directory of approved schools and information on a variety of subjects from career development to sustainability resources.
The Alliance of International Aromatherapists (https://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/) another member organization also has a role as a standard setter. Prospective aromatherapists will find a list of recognized schools at different levels. The website is a portal to aromatherapy databases.
The International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching (https://ichwc.org) offers a new certification that represents the work of many stakeholders. The website includes a directory of academic programs and approved training providers; holistic health, integrative, and wellness are terms that appear frequently in program names.
Graduate Professions: Naturopathy, Naprapathy, and Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (https://aanmc.org), a member institute for colleges, can provide information about naturopathic schools and residency programs.
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine awards diplomate status to professionals (http://www.nccaom.org). The website includes resources for acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Also included is state-level information about herbology (whether it is included in the scope of practice and/ or carries any special requirements).
The American Naprapathic Association (http://www.naprapathy.org) is a professional association for naprapathy, a doctoral level profession currently licensed in just two states.
The Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health provides, among its resources, evidence summaries about “moving beyond medication” (https://imconsortium.org/resourcesjournal/moving-beyond-medications/#section3).
Organizations of Interest to CAM Researchers
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (https://nccih.nih.gov), operating under the banner of the National Institutes of Health, is a source for research and funding opportunities.
The Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (https://cam.cancer.gov/) operating under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute, can link professionals with training, funding, and research opportunities specifically related to cancer. The website includes research about CAM modalities and their efficacy for particular types of cancer (from risk reduction to alleviation of side effects of treatment).
Health Freedom Act Information/ Legal Advice for CAM Practitioners
The National Health Freedom Coalition (https://nationalhealthfreedom.org) provides links to state health freedom laws as well as advocacy. Some states have their own chapters or organizations (https://nationalhealthfreedomaction.org/state-organizations/).
Most organizations state that they provide information, not legal advice. Practitioners, though, can seek the services of lawyers who specialize in CAM. The New Mexico Complementary Alternative Medicine Project (https://nmcaamp.org/other-resources) notes two: Jerry Green (http://www.greenermediations.net/medagree) and Michael Cohen (https://cohenhealthcarelaw.com/). Michael Cohen has provided a wealth of information on his website and on the Alternative Medicine Law Blog (http://www.camlawblog.com).