A homeopath uses a small, diluted amount of a substance thought to be causing symptoms in the patient, to treat symptoms and help the body heal itself.
Homeopathy is an alternative medicine, which uses the principle of treating symptoms with 'like for like' remedies. A homeopath uses a small amount of diluted substance diagnosed to be the cause of the problem, to treat the client's symptoms. Homeopaths believe this will help the body's own way of healing to get started. Homeopathy is used to treat a range of physical and psychological issues such as arthritis, depression, skin problems, and phobias.
Homeopaths assess their patients by asking them in-depth questions about their health problems, lifestyle, medical history, diet and personality, and then draw up prescriptions for their patients based on this holistic evidence.
Most homeopaths are self-employed and it can take a while to build up a reliable client base, so positive referrals and word-of-mouth is key to gaining a good reputation. This, in turn, will lead to an increased number of appointments and a growing client base. A new homeopath may need to supplement their work with a part-time job until client referrals and bookings increase.
Work is done on a one-to-one basis and can take place in your own home, in client's homes, from an alternative therapy clinic or occasionally in a GP's practice.
Typical duties include:
- talking through a client's medical history, lifestyle and diet
- prescribing and preparing a homeopathic remedy
- talking through the effects of certain remedies
- keeping a record of progress and evaluating the effectiveness of particular remedies prescribed
- referring patients to GP where necessary
- self-promotion and advertising services
Working hours will vary according to how many appointments are booked, but may include some evenings or weekends in order to suit clients' needs. Initial consultations usually last one or two hours with follow-up consultations lasting between 20 and 45 minutes.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for a homeopath
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- in-depth knowledge of remedies and disease processes
- calm bedside manner
- the ability to gain the trust of a patient
- a tactful approach
- the ability to use intuition and analytical information to choose a remedy
- Self-motivation to build up a client list
- the ability and confidence to promote and run your own practice
- business administration skills
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of a homeopath
The majority of homeopaths are self-employed working from home or in a private practice alongside other alternative therapy specialists. Some homeopaths make home visits or work in clinics dedicated to homeopathy. As most homeopaths are self-employed, jobs aren't generally advertised. A homeopath, therefore, needs to be good at promoting their business and advertising their services to attract clients. Some homeopaths do this by social media or word-of-mouth but they also might advertise their services via the registers of the main authoritative bodies such as the Society of Homeopaths (http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/) or the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (http://www.a-r-h.org/).
Qualifications and training required
Some homeopaths might have previous medical training and can therefore complete a short course through the Faculty of Homeopathy http://www.facultyofhomeopathy.org/ to use homeopathy in their treatments, whilst those without a medical background will need to take a course at a homeopathic college that is recognised by a professional body such as the Society of Homeopaths (http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/), which has a list of recognised courses, or the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (http://www.a-r-h.org/).
Most courses are part time and you'll usually attend college one weekend a month. Courses usually take three to four years to complete. Courses will vary as to what focus they have so it's important to research all courses carefully before making a decision.
If you're not sure you want to commit to training to become a practitioner, one-year foundation courses are also available, with the option of transferring on to the second year of the professional training course.
After qualification, in order to gain a good reputation, it's important to register with one of the main professional bodies:
- Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (ARH) http://www.a-r-h.org/
- Faculty of Homeopathy http://www.facultyofhomeopathy.org/ (for statutorily regulated healthcare professionals providing homeopathy)
- Homeopathic Medical Association (HMA) http://www.the-hma.org/
- Society of Homeopaths http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/),
After qualifying, many homeopaths undertake further courses and personal research to hone their skills and knowledge. A variety of organisations, including the Faculty of Homeopathy, offer training courses for experienced homeopaths.
Opportunities for career progression are fairly limited in this area of work. Most homeopaths work on a freelance basis and, therefore, career development is all about building up a good reputation and securing regular and new clients.
Some homeopaths eventually develop their practice enough to employ other people who specialise in different areas of complementary medicine.