Holistic Health Counselor Careers: Training Info & Job Description

About this article
What are the real pros and cons of a holistic health counselor career? Get real job descriptions and career information to find out if this is the right path for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Holistic Health Counselor Career

Holistic health counselors work with clients to improve their lives by considering the broad picture of their lives, taking into account mind, body, and spirit. Read on for more details about this profession and decide if it is the right path for you.

Pros of a Holistic Health Counselor Career
Many career options, flexibility in training and specialization*
Helping profession, satisfaction of working to improve lives*
Option to live where you want (no main location for this field)*
Focus on work-life balance in holistic health counseling may lead to a more balanced life for professionals in the field as well*

Cons of a Holistic Health Counselor Career
Unregulated field that may be unfamiliar to many people*
Salary and job growth information is unavailable*
No clear education or training path to follow*
Lack of nationally recognized certification*

Source: *American Holistic Health Association (AHHA)

Career Information

The AHHA, a non-profit organization offering resources for those interested in holistic health, recommends starting your career with training in a healthcare modality, such as nursing or psychology and then adding holistic healthcare training to that knowledge base. Some people become physicians who specialize in holistic healthcare, while others come to holism from acupuncture or nutrition studies. As a holistic health counselor, you would work with clients on improving their overall wellness, potentially looking at lifestyle, diet, and sleep patterns in addition to traditional medical histories to find the root causes of client's illnesses.

Job Duties

As a holistic health counselor, you may work with basically healthy people to improve their overall wellness; alternatively, you may counsel seriously ill individuals to overcome life-threatening challenges. Regardless of your healthcare modality, working as a holistic counselor will probably involve meeting with individuals in some kind of office setting to discuss their health and to develop programs to work on improving overall wellness in addition to treating specific illnesses.

The type of clients you work with and how you specifically help them will depend on the healthcare modality you have been trained in. Some holistic health counselors may interview clients on their dietary practices and develop programs to improve their eating habits in order to address specific health issues. Others may work from a mental health counseling background, using talk therapy methods to discuss holistic wellness practices with their clients.

Education and Training Requirements

Although there are no formal educational requirements in place, several schools offer certificate programs for healthcare practitioners interested in focusing on holistic healthcare solutions. These programs include courses on integrative health, Asian approaches to healing, comparative dietary approaches, and holistic approaches to relationships. A limited number of colleges and universities also offer associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree programs in holistic healthcare.

What Employers Are Looking For

Job listings for holistic practitioners vary based on the modality they're looking for, but all of them seek people with knowledge and experience working from a holistic perspective to help people overcome illness. Here are some real job listings from June 2012, which show some of the various healthcare careers holistic health practitioners may work in:

  • A holistic health center in Rhode Island is looking for a medical professional to join its team. Applicants should either be nurse practitioners, physicians, or physician's assistants. The job requires collaborating with other holistic health professionals, in areas like energy medicine, hypnotherapy, and osteopathic manipulation to respond to patient's needs.
  • A holistic chiropractic clinic in Michigan seeks a registered massage therapist to join its practice. Candidates should be committed to working in a holistic practice, and be willing to work as part of a team.
  • A chiropractic wellness center in Philadelphia is looking for a chiropractic associate. Candidates should be prepared to work with patients on nutrition, stress management, exercise rehabilitation, and other holistic approaches to healing.

How to Stand out in the Field

The more training and education you have, both within a traditional healthcare modality and as a holistic health counselor, the better your chances in the job market. It may be a good idea to begin with a traditional training program in a healthcare field, such as medical school or a nutritionist program before earning additional training in holistic healthcare practices.

The American Alternative Medical Association offers voluntary board certification for drugless practitioners. If you practice drug-free holistic health methods, applying for this board certification may provide you with an extra level of legitimacy in the eyes of some potential clients.

Alternative Career Paths

If you enjoy working in the healthcare field, but you'd like a job with a more straightforward career path, you may want to consider becoming a registered nurse (RN). Nurses work in a wide variety of settings, from hospitals to medical centers to private and group homes. In order to become a nurse, you need to earn either an associate's or bachelor's degree or diploma from a nursing program and then pass a national licensing examination. According to the BLS, RNs earned a mean annual income of about $69,000 as of 2011.

Those more interested in training groups in health and wellness practices than in seeing individual clients may want to consider becoming health educators. Health educators work with companies, schools and organizations to train students and workers in various topics in health and wellness. To enter this profession, you'll need a bachelor's degree in health education or a related field. You may also need to earn the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential before beginning work. According to the BLS, health educators earned a mean income of about $52,000 in 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Nursing
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Bachelor: Health and Wellness
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Practical Theology - Practical Healing
      • Master of Divinity - Practical Healing
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Utica College

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
  • Campus Locations:
    7. Cortiva Institute

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Massage Therapy
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Abilene Christian University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Healthcare Administration
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Campus Locations:
    10. College of Health Care Professions

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Massage Therapy

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
  • Bachelor: Health and Wellness

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Practical Theology - Practical Healing
  • Master of Divinity - Practical Healing

What is your highest level of education completed?

Utica College

  • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Cortiva Institute

  • Massage Therapy

What is your highest earned degree?

Abilene Christian University

  • MBA - Healthcare Administration
  • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?