Millions of certified holistic health practitioners across the United States are currently operating without a solid legal basis to do so. Few realize the risk of serious legal and professional consequences before it's too late.
Most don’t even know they are doing anything that could put themselves or their business in jeopardy. Other practitioners have been operating for decades and haven’t kept up on how new legislation and crackdowns can affect them.
Do you think that your certification and training provide a solid legal basis for you to offer your services? Unfortunately, no. In the United States a shocking number of certified holistic health practitioners do not have a solid legal basis for their services and are fair game for any of the many state regulatory boards that may decide a provider is practicing activities regulated by that board.
You’ve gone through rigorous training, studied, learned and apprenticed in your holistic health field. You have worked hard to create a business helping your clients achieve better health, naturally. But practitioners are missing critical requirements and protection in order to operate legally. And that could — and often does — lead to a world of legal and financial trouble.
The first step in empowering and protecting yourself as a holistic health practitioner is to have a solid legal basis and defense for the services you provide.
Certification: A voluntary process determining that a person or entity has met the predetermined qualifications and standards and fulfilled the educational and testing requirements to competently perform their profession.
What it means for holistic health practitioners
While certifications attest to an individual’s training in a given holistic health specialty, you should avoid thinking of certifications, training or education as providing any legal basis for selling your services. Health regulatory boards do not consider certifications, abilities, education or training. Their only concern regarding holistic health practitioners is whether or not they are providing a service that the board regulates.
Licensure: A license enables a defense for doing something that may otherwise be prohibited under the threat or possibility of legal action. License can be issued for many purposes, from software licenses to drivers’ licenses and medical licenses, among others. It provides not only an element of defense for the holder, but credibility because it is evidence that an individual has met the required qualifications in order to obtain the license and is accountable to those standards under the license to serve the public.
What it means for holistic health practitioners
When it comes to any health-related activity, state regulatory boards routinely declare or define holistic services as “regulated” activities. This freedom of the board to “decide” is the largest risk of practicing any health-related activity, which includes all holistic health modalities. Holistic health practitioners operating without a clear and reasonable defense for their services put themselves and their businesses at risk of legal troubles.
In the field of holistic health, there is a lot of confusion around what it takes to provide services legally as a practitioner.
You may have wondered: Is my certification enough? Do I need to be licensed? And what exactly is a 'defendable legal basis'?
We provide the answers to common questions below on what it takes to provide holistic health services in a safe, legal environment.
ANSWER: First things first, we want to help define what a defendable legal basis is, and why it’s SO important to holistic health practitioners. It’s critical to start here since this is what lays the foundation for whether or not you’re operating legally.
Essentially, a defendable legal basis helps protect your business from state regulatory board concerns. It provides you with a safe, legal environment to provide your holistic services, worry-free.
A solid legal basis (like the one offered by the PWA) is one of your best defenses and protection against a cease-and-desist order from the state that could easily shut down your business.
ANSWER: Providing holistic health services without a defendable legal basis can put you at risk of losing your business, hefty fines and legal fees, and even jail time in some states.
Imagine this scenario: What would happen if the state came knocking at your door tomorrow, and served you a cease-and-desist order — or worse, an arrest warrant — just for providing holistic services?
Would you have a defendable legal basis to stand on?
If not, you and your business are at serious risk of being shut down, in addition to costly fines and legal fees. And in some states, maybe even the threat of jail time.
You could even lose your existing state license if you’re providing holistic services outside of what your license covers.
In fact, in our 20+ years of experience of working with holistic practitioners, we have seen legal action taken against several practitioners by the state.
Just look at the example of Heather Del Castillo (in Florida) or Donna Harris (in Mississippi), both of which were shut down by their states for dishing out holistic nutritional advice without a license.
Any holistic health practitioner operating without a solid legal defense is in danger of legal and financial consequences. On average, start-up legal fees can range between $5,000 - $15,000, which is the initial retainer for a lawyer to accept a case. Total legal defense fees can be upwards of $20,000 to $200,000, which is the cost for a lawyer to defend a case in court.
And that doesn’t even include the fines or potential jail time that might be placed on you from the state.
ANSWER: You may be wondering whether or not you have a defendable legal basis for your holistic health business.
Take our simple “Are My Holistic Services Protected?” Quiz to find out instantly if you’re operating your business legally.
Also, you can watch the License Education Webinar to learn more about licensure and if it’s right for your business.
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Across the United States, practitioners are responding to the growing demand from current patients for holistic services. For example, practitioners who are state-licensed in fields such as chiropractic, massage therapy, naturopathy and counseling want to start offering more holistic therapies such as essential oils, cupping, energy medicine, functional health and cranial sacral therapy.
Before offering any services outside of the scope of a current state-licensed practice, it is important to know the regulatory realities and legal implications of incorporating additional holistic health specialties.
In the United States, there is no standardized system across all of the states regulating holistic health services. Therefore, state governments are responsible for regulating credentials, and this varies greatly depending on the state and holistic health service in question. While a state license may provide some holistic services in its scope of practice, some states don’t even issue a license for certain types of holistic services.
Given the climate of increasingly strict enforcement and stricter state regulations, many practitioners are hesitant to offer holistic health services outside of their state-licensed field. Their concerns are well-grounded. Yet they shouldn’t stop practitioners from offering much needed and sought after holistic health services.
To protect yourself and your business from legal problems, you need a defendable legal basis that will provide you a solid legal defense for any holistic health areas that are not explicitly covered by your existing state license.
The best way to protect yourself from legal consequences is to obtain a license like the one offered by the Professional Wellness Alliance (PWA) to integrate holistic health specialties in addition to your current practice. A license like this increases your credibility through training and verification, keeps you accountable to standards and ethics, and demonstrates that you are a quality practitioner in the holistic health specialties that you offer.
One of the biggest challenges for holistic health practitioners is successfully marketing their services. Even if you are highly skilled and experienced in your holistic health field, without good marketing and a legal basis for your services, you may struggle to make a livelihood or even put your profession at risk.
Having a well-informed, focused and multi-faceted marketing plan and defendable legal basis to offer services will make an enormous difference for your success personally and financially. Whether you are a crystal healer, Reiki master, yoga instructor, or other holistic health practitioner, bringing in new clients is key to your long-term success.
Here we’ll provide some ideas to help you get started or improve your marketing and reach your ultimate goal of helping more people achieve improved health through natural means.
In this Marketing 101 Guide, we cover TONS of fresh, creative ideas for holistic health marketing, including:
It may not be something that you considered much until now, but the vast majority of holistic health practitioners are at-risk of costly legal troubles — without even knowing it.
This short, 3-minute quiz will help you determine if you’re operating your holistic health business legally and, if not, how you can ensure it is legal moving forward.