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Complementary and alternative therapists

There are two main groups of complementary and alternative therapists: those who are legally registered and those who aren't:

Osteopaths and chiropractors are legally recognised professionals just like doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. This means their training is regulated by a body set up by the government and by law they must register with this body in order to practise. They must be insured, and they can be struck off and prevented from practising if they’re incompetent or unethical.

There are proposals for legal regulation of medical herbalists and acupuncturists, but at the time of writing these practitioners aren’t legally registered. If you consult a practitioner who is not a member of a legally registered health profession, they should:

  • have an agreed code of ethics
  • be insured in case something goes wrong with your treatment
  • be a member of an organisation that promotes self-regulation and doesn’t make unreasonable claims about their treatments.

Where can I find a therapist?

For legally registered therapists, you can contact the appropriate regulatory body.

For therapists not currently required to register by law, such as aromatherapists, Alexander technique teachers and massage therapists, there’s a voluntary regulatory body, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). The CNHC can provide details of therapists registered with them.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.