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How to Become a Naturopath

Last Updated Jun 07, 2023

How to Become a Naturopath

Naturopathic treatments are one-of-a-kind, focusing on nutritional medicine and lifestyle advice that never fail to restore optimal health. Although this type of natural treatment does not intend to replace medical care, there's no denying the fact that it has demonstrated the ability to treat a wide range of issues, ranging from allergies and skin conditions to infertility and weight loss.

If you're interested in learning about the holistic approach to health care as well as various naturopathic programs and applying them in clinical settings, the first step is to enrol in a relevant course at an accredited school.

Today, there are a variety of accessible pathways that will lead you to becoming a certified naturopath. These include online, on-campus and blended learning options to obtain a diploma, an advanced diploma, an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

With numerous pathways to choose from, which one is right for you? This article will walk you through your options so you can make an informed decision that will support your dream of pursuing a career in naturopathy and using it in integrative medicine.

What is Naturopathy?

Naturopathy is a natural approach to healthcare that is based on the idea that the human body has the ability to heal itself using natural remedies and therapeutic techniques. Naturopathic physicians, as opposed to conventional doctors, treat the underlying causes of an illness or disease rather than simply suppressing the symptoms.

A conventional treatment usually starts with an assessment that typically lasts between 12 and 15 minutes, whereas one with a naturopathic doctor can take up to an hour because the latter looks at the family history, medical history, lifestyle habits and diet of the patient to get to the root of their health issues. It's only by identifying the real cause of an illness can a naturopathic practitioner develop a treatment plan tailored to the needs of the patient and support their body's natural healing mechanism.

Students of naturopathy learn about the human body and its functions, as well as psychology, nutrition and natural medicine. They also gain clinical experience at school, where they apply various diagnostic techniques and treatment procedures used in naturopathic care. They are also introduced to a vast array of natural therapies commonly used in naturopathic medicine, including herbal remedies, nutrition, counselling, homoeopathic medicineTraditional Chinese Medicineremedial massage and iridology.

6 Essential Skills and Qualities of a Successful Naturopath

Becoming a successful naturopath requires more than just a passion for holistic healing and natural therapies. It demands a unique set of skills and qualities that enable practitioners to provide effective and compassionate care to their clients. Whether you're an aspiring naturopath or looking to enhance your existing skills, here are six essential attributes to cultivate for a thriving career in naturopathy.

1. Strong Communication Skills

Effective communication is at the heart of any successful healthcare practice, and naturopathy is no exception. As a naturopath, you must be able to actively listen to your clients, ask pertinent questions and clearly convey complex information in an understandable manner. The ability to establish a rapport and empathize with patients is crucial for building trust and fostering a healing relationship.

2. Holistic Approach

Naturopathy is based on the principle of treating the whole person, rather than just the symptoms. Successful naturopaths embrace this holistic approach, considering the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of their clients' wellbeing. They strive to identify the underlying causes of health imbalances and develop individualised treatment plans that address the root causes rather than merely alleviating symptoms.

3. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving

A successful naturopath possesses strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They are skilled at assessing complex health issues, interpreting lab results and formulating comprehensive treatment strategies. By analysing various factors and connecting the dots, naturopaths can provide personalized recommendations and guide their clients towards optimal health.

4. Empathy and Compassion

The practice of naturopathy often involves supporting individuals through their healing journeys. Empathy and compassion are essential qualities that allow naturopaths to understand their clients' struggles and provide emotional support. By cultivating a caring and non-judgemental attitude, naturopaths can create a safe and nurturing space for their clients to share their concerns and experiences.

5. Continuous Learning

The field of naturopathy is dynamic and constantly evolving. Successful naturopaths recognise the importance of lifelong learning and staying updated with the latest research, advancements and best practices in the field. They actively seek out opportunities for continuing education, attend conferences and engage in professional development activities to enhance their knowledge and skills.

6. Business and Entrepreneurial Skills

While the primary focus of naturopaths is patient care, possessing business and entrepreneurial skills is essential for running a successful practice. Understanding marketing, financial management and networking can help naturopaths establish and grow their practice, reaching a wider audience and making a positive impact on their community.

Licensing and Certification Requirements for Naturopaths

Naturopathy is a growing field in Australia, with an increasing number of individuals seeking natural and holistic approaches to healthcare. If you're considering a career as a naturopath, it's crucial to understand the licensing and certification requirements that govern the profession. Meeting these requirements not only ensures legal compliance but also demonstrates your commitment to practicing naturopathy safely and ethically.

In Australia, the regulation of naturopathy varies across states and territories. While there is currently no nationwide regulatory body specifically for naturopaths, several associations and regulatory bodies exist to ensure professional standards and public safety. Let's explore the general licensing and certification requirements for naturopaths in Australia.

Educational Qualifications

To become a licensed naturopath, you need to complete an accredited naturopathic education program. The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree in naturopathy or a related field. It's important to choose a program recognized by the relevant industry associations and regulatory bodies in your state or territory.

Professional Association Membership

Joining a professional association is highly recommended for naturopaths in Australia. Associations like the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) and the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS) provide support, resources and professional development opportunities. Membership in these associations often requires meeting specific educational and ethical standards.

Continuing Education

The field of naturopathy is continually evolving, with new research and advancements emerging regularly. Therefore, ongoing professional development is vital to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and evidence-based practices. Participating in continuing education programs and workshops can enhance your knowledge and skills, ensuring you provide the best care possible to your clients.

Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

Naturopaths who choose to use restricted titles, such as "naturopathic doctor" or "naturopathic physician," may need to register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). AHPRA oversees the registration of various healthcare professions in Australia and ensures that practitioners meet specific educational and professional requirements.

Health Fund Provider Status

Many private health insurance funds in Australia require naturopaths to have provider status to offer rebates to their clients. Provider status is typically granted by associations or regulatory bodies after meeting certain criteria, including qualifications, insurance coverage and adherence to professional standards and codes of conduct.

It's important to note that regulations and requirements can change over time. Therefore, it's essential to regularly check with the relevant associations and regulatory bodies in your state or territory to ensure you are compliant with the latest licensing and certification requirements.

The Educational Path to Becoming a Naturopath

If you're passionate about promoting wellbeing through natural therapies and considering a career as a naturopath, it's important to understand the educational path required to become a qualified professional in this field.

Undergraduate Education

The journey to becoming a naturopath typically begins with an undergraduate degree. While there are no specific bachelor's degrees in naturopathy in Australia, many aspiring naturopaths pursue degrees in health science, naturopathy, herbal medicine or related fields. These programs provide a solid foundation in the sciences, anatomy, physiology, nutrition and herbal medicine, among other relevant subjects.

Specialised Naturopathic Programs

After completing an undergraduate degree, aspiring naturopaths often pursue specialised programs to gain in-depth knowledge and practical skills specific to naturopathy. These programs include graduate diplomas, master's degrees or postgraduate certificates in naturopathy. These programs focus on naturopathic principles, diagnostics, herbal medicine, nutrition, lifestyle counseling and other key components of naturopathic practice.

Clinical Training

A crucial aspect of becoming a naturopath is gaining hands-on clinical experience. Many naturopathic programs incorporate clinical training as part of their curriculum. During this period, students have the opportunity to work with patients under the guidance of experienced naturopathic practitioners. This practical experience allows students to apply their theoretical knowledge, develop clinical skills and gain confidence in providing naturopathic care.

Continuing Education

The learning journey doesn't end with graduation. To stay abreast of the latest research, developments and advancements in the field, naturopaths engage in lifelong learning through continuing education. Workshops, seminars, conferences and online courses offer opportunities to deepen knowledge in specific areas of interest, explore emerging therapies and refine clinical skills. Continuing education ensures that naturopaths provide the most effective and evidence-based care to their clients.

Professional Association Membership

Joining a professional association, such as the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS) or the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA), is highly recommended for naturopaths. Membership offers numerous benefits, including access to resources, networking opportunities, professional support and ongoing education. These associations often have specific educational and ethical requirements for membership, ensuring that practitioners meet high standards of professionalism.

How do I find the best naturopathic school?

With so many options for naturopathy schools before you, knowing which course to choose and where to study can be daunting. While studying for a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) or a Diploma of Naturopathy is the ideal route, there are other courses that will qualify you for a graduate degree in naturopathy later on.

Your list of choices could include a Diploma in Nutrition, Bachelor in Complementary Medicine, Diploma in Remedial Massage, Certificate in Infant Massage or Diploma in Herbal Medicine.

If your goal is to become a licensed Doctor of Naturopathy and have the letters N.D. etched on your nameplate next to your name, it would be wise to pick a naturopathic school that offers accredited postgraduate courses to make your transition effortless.

A postgraduate program in naturopathic medicine is no different from a medical degree. It takes four years to complete; the first two years cover basic sciences like anatomy, biochemistry and pharmacology, while the last two focus on naturopathic diagnostic techniques and clinical practice under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

To make the selection process easier for you, we've provided a list of nationally accredited institutions that offer courses relevant to naturopathy, as recognised by the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA):

These institutions offer on-campus and online courses, so you have the option to study on a full-time or part-time basis.

What happens after I've obtained my qualification?

So, you've obtained a certificate in naturopathy from one of these recognised institutions.

What's next? Upon completion of your studies, it is highly recommended that you register with professional associations that evaluate and approve the education and practice of naturopathy, such as the Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists (ARONAH). This professional body sees to it that its members regularly undergo Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs to expand their capabilities.

Many associations encourage naturopathic students to apply for membership free of charge, so they can access the vast educational resources available on their online portal to improve their learning outcomes. Moreover, student members can easily transition to professional membership in the future once they have obtained their qualifications.

All registered practitioners of naturopathy must secure a First Aid Certificate and a Working with Children Check card. They must also secure Professional Indemnity Insurance, which they can get at a cheaper price if they submit their application through the naturopathic association of which they are a member, rather than purchase directly from a private insurance company.

Once you have met all of these requirements, you can go and focus your energy on marketing your services to potential clients or employers.

What are my career outcomes?

Society and the medical profession are becoming increasingly accepting of natural therapies as an approach to medical treatment. In fact, it's not unusual to hear about medical doctors recommending naturopathic medicine as an adjunct therapy to expedite patient recovery. Earning a qualification in naturopathy is the key to unlocking your success in various natural health careers.

Most naturopaths work in private practice and conduct one-on-one consultations with their patients, even online consultations. Others work in a multidisciplinary clinic, community health centre, health food store, pharmacy, wellness clinic or retreat. Take note that naturopaths don't live in a world of their own. They are very open-minded and accommodating. In fact, several of them collaborate with other health professionals, whether in the realm of complementary medicine or Western medicine, to ensure patients high-quality care.

Naturopathic doctors function similarly to other primary care providers or family medicine doctors; they diagnose, treat and prevent acute and chronic conditions but through the use of natural medicine.

Career opportunities for naturopathic doctorsSource: National University of Health Sciences

As it offers a range of learning options and recognised qualifications, naturopathy can certainly lead to the best career paths for health sciences students and have a positive impact on the health of the community.

Additional Resources on Naturopathy Scientific Research Studies

Over the years, several clinical trials and studies have explored the efficacy and safety of various naturopathic interventions. Here are a few examples that highlight the breadth of research conducted in this field:

  • A randomised controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology examined the effects of naturopathic medicine on the quality of life in cancer patients. The study found that integrating naturopathic care with conventional cancer treatment led to significant improvements in physical, emotional, and functional well-being compared to standard care alone.
  • A systematic review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine evaluated the effectiveness of herbal medicine in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The review concluded that certain herbal interventions, such as peppermint oil and curcumin, demonstrated promising results in alleviating IBS symptoms and improving overall quality of life.
  • A study published in the journal Diabetes Care investigated the impact of a naturopathic-based lifestyle intervention on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. The intervention included dietary modifications, exercise, stress management and botanical medicine. The study reported significant reductions in HbA1c levels and improvements in several other metabolic parameters.
  • In a randomised controlled trial published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers compared the effectiveness of naturopathic care and conventional medical care for patients with chronic low back pain. The study found that naturopathic care resulted in clinically meaningful improvements in pain intensity, disability, and overall physical functioning.
  • A review published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine examined the use of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic pain conditions. The review indicated that acupuncture showed potential as an effective intervention for various types of chronic pain, including musculoskeletal pain, migraines and osteoarthritis.

If you're all set to embark on your journey to becoming a successful naturopath, we invite you to check out the list of Australia's top naturopathic diploma courses and university courses on the Natural Therapy Pages.

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Originally published on Jul 15, 2020

FAQs About Becoming a Naturopath

Is a naturopathic doctor a real doctor?

Yes. A naturopathic doctor (ND) is a licensed physician who has undergone the same training as a medical doctor, plus additional courses in nutrition, herbal medicine and other natural remedies.

Is Naturopathy a good career choice?

Yes. Naturopathy is a rewarding career as it offers a wide variety of natural remedies that allow people to treat their health conditions in a holistic manner. These don't produce adverse effects during treatment unlike over-the-counter drugs.

How much money does a naturopathic doctor make?

A naturopathic doctor in Australia can earn between $53K and $79K in a year. Their actual earnings will depend mainly on their location, level of experience and the nature of their work.

How hard is it to become a naturopathic doctor?

It takes years of laborious education and training to become a naturopathic doctor. Aside from completing a bachelor's degree, you have to take a doctoral degree and pass a national licensing exam.

Is naturopathy regulated in Australia?

Naturopathy is not currently regulated at a national level in Australia. However, there are professional associations and regulatory bodies that establish standards and codes of conduct for naturopaths to ensure ethical practice and public safety.

Can naturopaths prescribe medications in Australia?

In Australia, naturopaths generally do not have the authority to prescribe pharmaceutical medications. However, they may recommend and utilise natural remedies, nutritional supplements and herbal medicines as part of their treatment plans.

Are health fund rebates available for naturopathic treatments in Australia?

Yes, many private health insurance funds in Australia offer rebates for naturopathic consultations and treatments. However, specific requirements, including the naturopath's provider status and the patient's level of coverage, may vary among health funds. It is advisable to check with individual insurance providers for details on naturopathy coverage.

What educational qualifications are required to become a naturopath in Australia?

To become a naturopath in Australia, individuals typically need to complete an undergraduate degree in health science, naturopathy, or a related field. They may also pursue specialized naturopathic programs, such as graduate diplomas or master's degrees, to gain in-depth knowledge and clinical training.

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