Careers In Natural Therapy

June 7th, 2008

A growing number of animal lovers are opting for a career in natural therapies as an alternative to traditional veterinary medicine. Hayley Stansell takes a closer look at the benefits of choosing a holistic profession and how it can improve the life of your animal.

Educator and author Christine Scully was shocked when her mare, Glenellen Park Chantilly, took a bad fall in 1994 and was left with little feeling in her hindquarter and back. Her vet at the time gave the horse a poor prognosis.

In an attempt to save her beloved animals life, Scully turned to massage, herbs and homoeopathy. And as a result of her mares remarkable recovery, Scully began to massage other horses and, thus, flourish in her career in equine holistic health, then chose a career as a tactile therapist.

Horses movements were enhanced, performances improved, attitudes improved, bad behaviours like bucking, pig rooting and biting disappeared, Scully tells Dogs Life.

After completing her Bachelor of Applied Science (Equine Studies) at university, Scully returned to Melbourne and began training in massage, becoming a certified tactile therapist.

Increasing natural therapy careers

According to Sara Rooney from The Holistic Animal Therapy Association of Australia (HATAA), which represents the interests and provides support for animal therapists, the number of enrolments in natural therapy courses is increasing and students are showing a tendency to move towards animal massage-related careers.

Bowen Therapy and remedial massage [courses] are getting more popular, Rooney tells Dogs Life.

Rooney says there has also been an increase in courses offered through various colleges to meet consumer demand for natural animal therapists.

Mainstream treatments do not always succeed. People are also seeking natural therapies for themselves, so its only natural they would seek the same for their dogs, she says.

An experienced animal naturopath, Rooney has had much success in treating dogs with illnesses such as ear infections, chronic skin conditions and degenerative joint conditions. Well-trained natural animal therapists can gain a lot of satisfaction, because the results on dogs are just as effective as modern medicine, she says.

It can give you a huge amount of satisfaction when you can help an animal, particularly when there is a history of long-term illness, Rooney says.

Dogs Life looks at some of the more popular careers in natural therapy. For more information about any of these therapies, please contact the Holistic Animal Therapy Association of Australia via the website or email

Canine Myofunctional Therapy
You can help to improve the health and wellbeing of mans best friend with Canine Myofunctional Therapy (CMT). Predominantly described as professional dog massage, this field also focuses on stretching, canine behaviour, nutrition, and canine anatomy and physiology.

Certificate and diploma courses are available in VIC, NSW, SA and Qld through private colleges and are designed for the graduate to practise as a fully qualified Canine Myofunctional Therapist. For instance, six or 12-month courses are available on weekends, while intensive speed lessons can be completed within five months with a distance education commitment of 150 hours.

According to Michelle Gatt, marketing manager of a leading college that offers courses in natural therapies, the number of canine myofunctional therapists is on the increase. There is a gap in the marketplace and so many are choosing Canine Myofunctional Therapy instead of western medicine, she tells Dogs Life.

Canine myofunctional therapist Silva Mirovics says that while the study is demanding – for example, a log book must be completed of at least 20 treatments and plenty of essays courses provide a grounding for further canine education.

You will need other things to supplement this as a business, as you will never earn a decent living just from CMT, Mirovics tells Dogs Life.

Animal homeopathy
Homeopathy is a traditional therapy founded by a German physician, Dr Samuel Hahnemann. This career focuses on the energy component to animal healing and can be used to help in a range of physical, emotional and behavioural canine disorders.

By examining the symptoms of your dog and treating through herbal remedies (for example, Urtica for a symptom such as itching), this profession can be rewarding because of the dramatic results to skin problems and arthritis.

When studying the fully accredited Diploma of Animal Homeopathy (for a non-vet, approximately 2000 hours) via distance education, you have the option of one year full-time or two years part-time. In order to become a fully qualified health practitioner, you will need to study at a college that is accredited and affiliated with a health association.

Many colleges accommodate students from all academic levels from beginner to advanced, with the lecture material easy to manage and the assignments clear and straightforward. But to become a registered animal homeopathic practitioner, a human course in health science must also be completed.

A Bachelor of Animal Science is recommended to run over four years full-time at university. A component of the topics covered are animal behaviour, nutrition and pet therapies.

Small-animal Bowen Therapy
Small-animal Bowen Therapy is the soft-tissue rolling, stretching and energy-based technique to promote self-healing and bring balance to an animals wellbeing.

With options of a Diploma of Bowen Therapy (government accredited), Diploma of Equine Smart Bowen Therapy, Certificate in Small Animal Therapy or Postgraduate Workshops, you can be qualified by attending training intensives over 10 to 12 months

Animal Reiki
Animal Reiki can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. Founded by Japanese scholar Dr Mikaeo Usui in the early 20th Century, it works by the art of holistic healing and channelling natural energies through the human hand.

Commonly, Reiki courses involve two-hour sessions starting at level one, moving to stage two and finally master (teaching) level, running over a whole week. Reiki practitioner Joanne Schoenwald tells Dogs Life that learning about the depths and complexities of animals is a gratifying career and she enjoys nourishing their lives.

Because Reiki works on the levels of body, mind and soul, it can provide a wonderful relief in ways that other therapies cant, Schoenwald says. People are much more open to energy medicine. Many don’t question how something could be true; they just understand that it is.

Animal naturopathy
Once your ill pet has been diagnosed by a veterinarian, natural therapies are a great second option. A Small Animal Naturopathy Diploma in Animal Naturopathy at various private colleges can be studied by distance education with a tutor available via email, fax or mail.

This diploma includes the study of the anatomy and physiology of mainly dogs, plus herbal medicine, flower essences, herbal manufacturing, cat and dog nutrition, pet food analysis, minerals, colloids, vitamins, benefits of massage, pathology, aromatic medicines, business practices and behavioural aspects, as well as looking at ethics, safety and efficiency. Once the assignment work is completed, 100 supervised clinical hours, which combine the theoretical and practical training, must be completed.

Equine aromoatherapy educator Catherine Bird believes enrolments in this type of course are on the increase. People are starting to see this method work. Many tested out the olfactory application after reading about the success of this treatment it sparks interest enough to try it out themselves, Bird says.

She recently told the Sydney Morning Herald, In the early 1990s, I could probably count the number of animal therapists on one hand. Now there’s a lot more out there.

Animal Communication
Animal communication involves the silent language of animals. Workshops are usually held at zoos and wildlife centres, or through animal communicators.

Animal communicator and educator Trisha McCagh believes it is possible to send and receive messages to animals and hold conversations with all species of the animal kingdom, and eventually heal their illness.

People are getting back to the natural ways – getting back to basics and the more ancient medicines – its like doing a full circle, McCagh said. They are realising that natural therapies are achieving results on emotional, mental, physical and spiritual levels.

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