Homeopathy is a form of alternative or complementary medicine. Although most practitioners are professional homeopaths prescribing exclusively homeopathic treatments, some people trained in conventional medicine - doctors, dentists and vets - use it alongside conventional treatments.
Patients seek out homeopathic treatment for a range of conditions. These might be physical in origin, such as skin ailments, asthma, insomnia, arthritis, migraine, infertility or menopausal problems. Other treatable conditions are emotional or psychological in origin: depression, neuroses, phobias or relationship difficulties. Patients might consult a homeopath when conventional medicine has failed to find a cause for their illness, or they are unhappy with the side effects of the drugs prescribed by their doctor.
Homeopaths use highly diluted doses of substances made from mostly natural ingredients: substances that in a healthy person would produce symptoms similar to those of the particular condition under treatment. The intention is to provoke the body into fighting the complaint with its own self-healing capacities.
The homeopathic approach is holistic. It takes into account the patient's whole lifestyle, including physical, psychological and spiritual factors, rather than just the symptoms of the specific ailment. Two patients might therefore get a different remedy for the same condition.
The job can involve:
Some practitioners also offer other alternative or complementary therapies, such as massage, nutrition or aromatherapy.
Most homeopaths work part time and offer appointments in the evenings and weekends for their clients' convenience.
Most homeopaths are self-employed. They may work from their homes or in a clinic within a health centre, hospital or alternative therapy centre. They may also travel to visit patients at home.
A homeopath starting out is likely to earn up to £6,000 a year (taking into account start-up costs). With experience, earnings may rise to £10,000 to £15,000. A very successful homeopath might make around £27,000 a year.
Most homeopaths charge around £55 to £75 for the initial consultation and £35 to £50 for follow-up appointments, which usually includes the cost of the remedies.
Income usually depends on the number of patients. Many homeopaths take on other employment to supplement their income, particularly at the beginning. It is not easy to earn a living solely from homeopathy.
Since Samuel Hahnemann first developed homeopathy in the 18th century, its popularity has come in waves. There was a revival of interest in all forms of alternative medicine in the late 20th century. At present there are approximately 2,000 registered homeopaths and an unknown number of unregistered homeopaths working in the UK.
There are also over 400 GPs who practise homeopathy alongside conventional medicine.
There are four NHS homeopathic hospitals, in Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and London.
For the majority of homeopaths, the profession is a second career. It is very often practised alongside another occupation.
It is not yet compulsory to be registered in order to practise homeopathy.
The Society of Homeopaths and the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths run their own registration schemes. To be registered, a practitioner must complete one of the recognised courses listed on the websites of these organisations. Courses can be studied full time, part time or through distance learning. Some courses lead to a diploma and some to a degree.
Entry requirements vary. Some courses have no formal requirements. Entry to a degree course usually requires a minimum of two A levels, usually including biology, plus five GCSE's (A*-C), or equivalent qualifications.
The Diploma in society, health and development may be relevant for this area of work.
Degree courses usually take three years of full-time study or four years of part-time study and those currently available that are approved by the Society of Homeopaths are:
Life experience is an advantage in homeopathy, as is relevant work experience, whether paid or voluntary.
Qualified healthcare professionals working in conventional medicine can study homeopathy at courses in Aberdeen, Bristol, Glasgow, London and York. The Faculty of Homeopathy regulates these courses.
Homeopaths must keep up to date with developments in homeopathic research.
The professional bodies run continuing professional development (CPD) schemes and provide information on courses and training events.
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A homeopath needs to be:
For self-employed homeopaths, career progression usually comes through building up their practice and gaining a reputation.
It is also possible to move into the field of research and development.
Some homeopaths teach at colleges or promote homeopathy through writing books and articles.
Alliance of Registered Homeopaths,
Millbrook, Millbrook Hill, Nutley,
East Sussex TN22 3PJ
Tel: 01825 714506
British Homeopathic Association,
Hahnemann House, 29 Park Street West,
Luton LU1 3BE
Tel: 01582 408675
European Central Council of Homeopaths,
School House, Market Place, Kenninghall,
Norfolk NR16 2AH
Tel: 01953 888163
Faculty of Homeopathy,
29 Park Street West,
Luton LU1 3BE
Tel: 01582 408690
International Society for Homeopathy,
c/o Harebell Woods, Cranham,
Gloucestershire GL4 8HS
Tel: 01452 810979
The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health,
PO Box 65104, London SW1P 9PJ
Tel: 020 7024 5755
Skills for Health, 2nd Floor,
Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 922 1155
The Society of Homeopaths,
11 Brookfield, Duncan Close,
Moulton Park, Northampton NN3 6WL
Tel: 0845 450 6611
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.