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Regulation of Group 2 Complementary Therapies

by Carole Preen(more info)

listed in clinical practice, originally published in issue 107 - January 2005

I have decided to address the question of regulation of 'Group 2' therapies and in particular Aromatherapy, Massage and Reflexology.

Regulation is not something that may happen in the future; it is happening now. It is important that therapy groups work together to develop regulation for each therapy as otherwise regulation will be imposed by government without us being involved in shaping our futures.

Firstly, we need to look at the House of Lords Select Committee 6th Report 2000 and the Government response, where the emphasis to get regulation underway really started, although some organizations had already been involved in regulation initiatives for years. In Chapter 5 (Regulation), item 23 clearly concludes: "Therefore, we recommend that practitioners of each of the therapies in Group 2 should organize themselves under a single professional body for each therapy. These bodies should be well-promoted so that the public who access these therapies are aware of them. Each should comply with core professional principles, and relevant information about each body should be made known to medical practitioners and other healthcare professionals. Patients could then have a single, reliable point of reference for standards, and would be protected against the risk of poorly-trained practitioners and have redress for poor service".

It further defined the features of an effective regulatory system under section 5.14: "The primary benefit of effective regulation is that it protects the public." This is done through five main features which the BMA outlined: "To provide a code of conduct, a disciplinary procedure, and a complaints procedure; to provide minimum standards of training and to supervize training courses and accreditation; to understand and advertise areas of competence, including limits of competence within each therapy; to keep an up to date register of qualified practitioners; and to provide and publicize information on CAM." (p46).

Aromatherapy Consortium (AC)

The Consortium is developing regulation for the UK Aromatherapy profession. Currently it is in the final stages of agreeing the core curriculum for Aromatherapy training. It has been developed in wide consultation with education specialist and awarding bodies and is aligned with the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Aromatherapy. They are also developing the code of ethics and complaints and disciplinary procedures.

The AC has a national register in operation already which signifies that Aromatherapists registered are competent to practise to agreed national standards (NOS) and this is available as a public referral service to ensure the public has access to properly qualified Aromatherapists. Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) procedures are also currently being developed for those therapists trained prior to the NOS being published (originally in 1998 and revised in 2002). This will take into account evidence of ongoing learning in aromatherapy specific studies and clinical experience. A quarterly newsletter is published for AC Registered Aromatherapists.

Find out more information on their website at All Aromatherapists are currently being encouraged to voluntarily register themselves with the AC. The cost is just £25.00 per annum and you can download the application form from the website or telephone the office on 0870 7743477 or e-mail

The General Council for Massage Therapy (GCMT)

The GCMT is the emerging organization for the self-regulation of Massage Therapy in the UK. It has been the remit of the GCMT to standardize Body Massage/ Body Works by aligning their core curriculum with the National Occupational Standard (NOS) for massage therapy.

They are also developing the criteria for entry onto the National Register of Massage Practitioners when the self-regulatory body comes into being. As with the Aromatherapists and the AC, Accredited Prior Learning will be taken into consideration for those practitioners who qualified prior to these standards being put in place.

In the meantime, supported by the major professional associations representing massage therapists, the GCMT has decided to launch the National Register of Qualified Massage Practitioners to help the general public locate reliable and competent practitioners, who themselves are represented by a responsible organization requiring strict codes of conduct, ethical standards and who carry professional indemnity insurance.

All qualified massage practitioners who are full and insured members of an association within the GCMT are eligible to apply for entry onto the National Register at an annual subscription of just £10.00. For more information you can view their website at; or telephone 0151-4308199.

The Reflexology Forum (RF)

The Reflexology Forum is the developing regulatory body for Reflexology in the UK. The Forum is currently in the process of refining its core curriculum and the second draft was published for consultation on 20th September 2004. The RF has developed this in line with the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Reflexology as in the other groups.

The Reflexology Forum is also developing all the necessary areas to ensure they are well placed to meet all the requirements of a voluntary regulating body. These developments are ongoing with significant progress planned for 2005. Quarterly updates on the activities of the Reflexology Forum are made available via a regular newsletter to Reflexologists of the member organizations. You can contact the Reflexology Forum via e-mail: and view their website a

The Prince of Wales' Foundation for Integrated Health helps facilitate the regulation work of complementary therapies and a full list of regulatory bodies can be viewed on their website at


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About Carole Preen

Carole Preen FCHP FANM HonMIFA is a Fellow of the Association of Natural Medicine and the former Aromatherapy & Allied Practitioners' Association and has been a practitioner since 1994 and an educator since 1997. She is also an honorary lifetime member of the International Federation of Aromatherapists awarded for her contribution to the profession. As well as specializing in Aromatherapy and Anatomy, Carole also introduced Neuroskeletal Re-alignment Therapy to the UK. Carole is an specialist educator, and internal and external moderator working in both the private and FE sector and has level 4 qualifications in quality assurance. She is Director of Complementary Health Professionals and may be contacted on Tel: 0333 577 3340;
For further information about Neuroskeletal Re-alignment Therapy (NSRT) please view the website at with links to published articles and a Facebook page. The diploma course is accredited by Complementary Health Professionals through Natural Therapeutics. Training details and information on booking a treatment with me is available via Mob: 07455 195 515

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