Equality and diversity in complementary therapy training
I’m a self-employed aromatherapist based near the Hampshire/Surrey border. Equality and diversity are important, but it isn't something that I consciously think about because, in my eyes, everyone is equal.
I trained as an aromatherapist after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Initially this wasn’t to create a business but to learn how to manage my symptoms without taking medication. Being self-employed, I’m able to manage my diary and pace myself excluding outside pressures.
When a client, was diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to provide support through her journey as best I could. I attended Jennifer Young’s Cancer Awareness for Beauty and Holistic Therapists course, which was really informative. I wasn’t aware how hard it is for people living with, and beyond, cancer to access therapies. My client was able to elicit a letter from her consultant so I could still make products for her but I understand not all consultants are so accommodating.
During my aromatherapy training we discussed cultural differences including, for example, being aware of differing attitudes towards undressing for a massage. I would be interested in more in-depth training on how other cultures view such practice. Geographical location may mean some therapists have a better understanding of other cultures and it would be useful to pool this information, so all therapists have the same understanding.
Similarly, knowledge of how to manage different skin tones would be useful because our society can be very diverse and, having this information, would mean the therapist would be able to cater for whoever came through the door.
Additional training is the key to therapists encouraging diversity within their own practices, this would also enable them to help those with specific health issues such as cancer and fibromyalgia.
I’d like to see the FHT take a more active role in spotlighting articles discussing cultural differences and practices. It’s also important to raise awareness of challenges faced by people with different illnesses who try to access therapies.
Cultural and ethnic differences must form an integral part of any training syllabus rather than being treated as an add-on or ‘nice to have’ extra. We should all be making the most of opportunities to work together to create a truly caring profession regardless of background, ethnicity and status.
Sue Bond is an aromatherapist and reiki master. She runs her own business, Tranquil Tea House Therapies, which specialises in treatments and products tailored to meet her client’s needs. www.tranquilteahousetherapies.com