What an unfortunate experience you have had. I have never come across any problems with competition from beauty therapists, in fact quite the opposite. I have gained clients which have found the pressure and technique from beauty therapists not to their liking. (I don't know much about massage offered by beauty therapists, but understand there is a difference).
Have you tried to find a room to rent, there are quite a few about. It is hard work getting your name out there and if you are on your own as opposed to working from a "boutique" it takes time.
Personally I prefer not to be mobile and am rarely asked, so not sure how much you, or I would be missing out on, but I prefer the security and safety from working from a single location. I speak from experience.
I know there are rooms offered for rent as part of this forum, you can pay either as a unit of time as in mornings or per client. Make sure you find out which they want first.
Good luck, but do persevere, it is worth it
Rebecca - as a tutor/lecturer of CAM, I have a lot of empathy with your situation. I'm afraid I agree with your view that Beauticians should stick with beauty therapies. The current situation creates a 2 tier system of holistic therapy provision (mainy massage and reflexology) by Beauty Therapists and Holistic Therapists. As Marion pointed out, there is a difference (a big one!)- and not all clients are as well informed as the few who know the difference and make their choice.
Do perservere - and good luck!
I should have added - at least we can say we are honest with our potential students and make it very clear that they are more than likely to have to go self-employed. I would also suggest it really should be up to the student applying for any course to research the job market for themselves before deciding to undertake that course!
You may find the following books useful:
Sole Trader - The Holistic Therapy Business Handbook by Jane Sheehan. ISBN 978-0955059322
A quick search using the keywords "complementary therapies business" on amazon.co.uk will throw up a host of others, some specifically on marketing and promotion.
Gill Tree will soon launch her own "Therapists Business Passport"(an online resource which is in the final stages of production) - check it out on her website www.essentialsforhealth.co.uk (though there isn't very much information available just yet). I shall probably be "reviewing" this package for her in the near future.
I also have to agree. I do feel very sorry also for the many therapists who have paid a lot of money for their courses. We also have a college near by who churn out lots and lots of beauty therapists who are under the impression that they have a wonderful profession - but for heavens sake there are only so many institutions to work for. I'm cross with the college for misleading the poor young women.
I have been approached by letter asking if I have any positions vacant, which I don't because I'm an independent practitioner.
I totally agree and empathise with you. The general public seem to place more importance on looking good rather than feeling good. They are very quick to run to a beauty salon and, worse still, a tanning booth, rather than come to the likes of us who would actually do these people some good, safely.
I too have this problem, luckily I have a purpose build room in my home that I work from so my situation is not too bad. However my neighbour behind me is a beauty therapist also working from a room in her home and she has a better trade than I do.
You are right, trainee therapists are mislead and misguided. It would appear that there are very few complementary/holistic therapists who do it full time, most seem to do it as a paying hobby. Like you I feel I have found my "calling" and I constantly struggle to make ends meet. I'm also finding that complementary therapists are expected to work for free when approached by organisations and shops etc. Because we are such kind hearted people we are easily taken advantage of and the sadest thing is most of us don't even realise that we are being abused.
Training courses to show you how to bring in more clients is another way to dupe us out of what tiny money resources we have. I've been on these courses and learned all the "tricks" and, after 15 years in the business (self-employed) I've discovered that none of them work.
I have no hints, tips or solutions for you, all I have is the greatest empathy with you, you are in a very difficult situation and perhaps it may be of some comfort (cold though it is) to know that you are not the only one. I applaude you however on being awake and alert and honest enough to face the hard, cold, stark reality. Well done!
My heart goes out to you Rebecca, I know how you feel and I feel awfull that I don't have any answers for you.
Hang in there, will it to happen and fill that wish with everything you've got and, most of all, don't stop believing!
i have been thinking about this problem and perhaps it is up to us to try and get some thing in the press about it, what do you think??
Perhaps we should ask the CThA to try and get articles in the press and magazines??
What a wonderful suggestion. This would highlight the problem and start the ball rolling on solving it.
I have just penned an email to CThA asking what action are they taking.
Also - how about local radio?
Well done Angela, for penning the email, fair play to you.
Local radio is another good idea. This would help to highlight it further.
I agree wholeheartedly and sympathise with the problem. I trained as a nutritionist, but everyone and their grandma gives out nutritional information and without being a fantastic salesperson (which I'm not) I can't handle all the competition. There were perhaps 100 people on my course and I know of very few currently working full-time in the industry.
Following three years training I was unable to make a full-time living (by a long way) so I work part-time on nutrition and full-time on my previous (totally unrelated) profession. It's not at all how it's represented when you take up these very expensive training courses - and I stopped advertising because I had more people ringing me to sell me adverts or wanting jobs/experience than clients.
I am lucky enough to have a spare room I can use, although not wild about strangers coming into my home.
Despite this, thinking it might increase my business I applied to rent rooms in several different venues, but it seemed to me that all they wanted to do was take a rake-off from my existing clients and rent out rooms they couldn't fill themselves!
Funny how this has been the most active thread on here for a long time. Let's hope some prospective students see it before they spend their money and time.
HI it is hard when you first start out and the majority of therapists will either continue full time in their previous employment whilst builing up their practice. Unfortunately until a health problem is compounded into illness the public does not want to consider complementary therapies and looking after themselves in a maintenance manner, even then there is a financial consideration that will come into play and people tend to let themselves fall off the therapies bandwagon when everything is feeling alright (or at least better than when they came in).
If we charge too much we don't attract any business. If we are too cheap the public think we must be no good. If mobile we run the risk of postural problems when carrying equipment and working in confined spaces.And then theres the competition with the Beauty Therapist who has also trained to the best of his/her ability and may well have taken the same type of course.
I think the best way would be to rent a room, perhaps 1 or 2 evenings and a Saturday to build up a base - unfortunately clients won't come to you unless you are based in a busy therapies clinic and you are likely to have to pay for the room whether you have clients or not. Embody in Glasgow does a starter offer of a set percentage charge for those starting up, there may be a clinic near you.
buy the way, i'm mobile and only work part-time when my kids are at school or a few evenings a week - buy a trolley if you do consider going mobile.
I must say, I am saddened to say that this whole situation has become much much worse since volutary regulation. It appears that in trying to set out National Occupational standards that a split between therapy treatmentrs into separate fields has compounded the issue whilst the NOS for Beuaty seems to have included more than just Beauty treatments into the role.
Over the last 11 years, it is true to say that in most colleges and places I was tutoring/attending for different reasons, that the Beauticians and Holistic Therapists attended the exact same massage sessions.
It is also true to say that in this current economic climate,the numbers of people who think that taking Therapy or Beauty courses as a way of 'supplementing' their usual income is growing. Competition out there is extremely strong and for clients, price is not the issue, despite student therapists being told that it is. A good business education is what is needed for anyone who wants to set up in self-employment and any reading and advice you can get in this area is well worth it's weight in gold (For instance, in addition to my therapies qualifications and teahing qualifications, I hold both a degree in Business stuidies AND am a fully qualified Chartered Marketeer).
To try and help fellow therapists, I have tried to bring together as much information on work opportunites as I can and publish them as ongoing work opportunities for therapists on
In addition, for those therapists who wish to further their knowledge about Health & Wellbeing, I have established our Health & Wellbeing infobase on: www.TheHClub.co.uk
We can but try to help each other out as much as possible and although it has taken me a decade to get to this point in the 2 web-sites - they remain a work in progress designed to help others.
This discussion is proving to be very interesting. Joy and Helen make some very valid points about advertising and charging for our services. If advertising gave me as many clients as jelous advertisers and sales people I'd be a very rich therapist indeed. As for charging a fee I no longer work for free that is a recent decision I made. As for trade fairs they are exhausting, time consuming,expensive and don't result in clients or students.
As for being financially successful in this business, I'm glad to learn that I am not the only one with this problem. I was beginning to think that I was doing something wrong, or that I wasn't doing something I should be doing but I now see that I'm just part of a bigger problem what we all have.
It's not funny at all that this is the most active discussion because it is a fundamental issue that effects us all.
I suggest the first thing we must all consider doing is to regard ourselves as PROFESSIONALS. We must run our practice (in whatever form that takes) as a BUSINESS. That means we have bills so that means we have to charge a PROFESSIONAL FEE for a PROFESSIONAL SERVICE. We then meet and greet everyone as a PROFESSIONAL and we demand that we be taken seriously by not letting ourselves be taken advantage of. We must somehow balance our kind hearted nature with a hard cold business approach. At first this will be difficult and will disrupt the order of things but it will eventually pay off. The more professional we present ourselves the more people will respect us. With the national health system breaking down people will need somewhere else to go and this is where we can "cash in" and we do it by being PROFESSIONAL.
I'm glad to see that there are a few "warriors" among us and perhaps our little group can be the first to be The Professionals. Let's all keep this discussion going and let's all take it upon ourselves to do everything in our power to professionalise ourselves. It starts with us, on behalf of our colleagues, eventually others will follow because it is in all our best interests to do so.
Let's all stand up and fight (gently, of course)but firmly too.
I've just sent the following email to Irish Reflexologists Institute, Dr Edward Bach Foundation, Perrens, Natural Medicine Company, Complementary Therapists association and my own BIEP group.
I've just become part of a very active forum through the Complementary Therapists association where we are discussing the issues of Holistic Therapists finding employment and charging for their services. It seems these two issues are fundamental and, I'm beginning to realise, universal.
What is emerging is that student holistic therapists are being given to understand that they are heading into a lucretive industry whereas the reality is quite the opposite. Most holistics are unable to "make a living" out of their therapy and are therefore forced to do it only as a paying hobby. The brave ones who do it "full time" are most often self-employed with no real assistance from their governing body and therefore are "poor struggling artists".
It seems that because beauticians are also trained in massage the public perceive that beauty massage and therapeutic massage are one and the same thing. It also appears that beauticians are far more employable because looking good is more important than feeling good. Hotels, centres, spas and the like have no problem taking on beauticians but have absolutely no interest in therapists. Doctors won't take therapists into their practices because they are not perceived as professionals. Shops will gladly rent out rooms but make very little effort in "drawing in the crowds" (therapists are expected to do that for themselves)and won't refer customers to them either because of insurance. Advertising is enormously expensive and doesn't bring in enough business to offset the cost. All this takes away from the very important work that holistic practitioners do and makes it hard for them to find employment.
It has also emerged that holistic practitioners are expected to work for free as a means of "spreading the word". Organisations, foundations, and all manner of charitable Societies are very quick to take on "willing volunteers" yet, I have just discovered, pay enormous fees to event management companies to organise an occasion. It is extremely exhausting and expensive for a therapist to be part of such an occasion and "working" for these places for free means that time has to be taken out of paid employment to do so, not getting paid for their efforts makes it professionally unproductive.
On behalf of my colleagues I request that students be told the truth right from the beginning and that a clear distinction be made between beauty and therapy. Doctors specialise and so should we. Beauticians should be restricted to making people LOOK good so that holistic practitioners can specialise in making people FEEL good.
Let's see where this goes and let's hope this helps our "cause".
Well done and worded! Perhaps this should be sent to the colleges who train them?
I do an event for my local University - I AM PAID, albeight not as much as I'd like, but not too cheap and, this year I've had most clients from it - even if they've been only a couple of times:)
What about sending your email to:- Choice,Health & Wellbeing magazine atwww.choicehealthmag.com - good magazine for therapists:)
AND also The Association Of Reflexologists - www.aor.org.uk
I am also a member of.
Good suggestion Angela. Now that you mention it other magazines come to mind which I will email it to as well.
Perhaps we could all email something similar to the mags that we know of.
Let us hope that we can keep this momentum
For years I have been advocating therapists need to charge clients fees based on their running costs. Indeed, a couple of years ago I ran a seminar in Edinburgh on how to work out your costs. This was well received by the group of qualified therapists attending.
It was no surprise to me that the therapists were greatly impressed to learn the 'How of product costing'. I had only a short time before been shown the curriculum for massage therapy training being put forward by voluntary regulator representatives of GCMT. The curriculum included a whole 30 minutes for business skills training!.
I guess the reason why I'm so vocal about this issue is because i've just recently completed a three month business training course specifically aimed at therapists and, while I was professional in everything I did before the course, I have since been looking at ways of making my practice even more professional.
Many years ago, GCP era, the GCP used to do an inhouse seminar in London. Your business seminar would be of great value to therapists and it would have been great IF The CThA did the seminars:))
I agree with most of what's been said here but worry when we say beauticians can't/shouldn't offer massage. I've had some excellent massages from beauticians and some very average massages from holistic therapists - it depends on the individual and the level of training/skills they have.
Many of us enter our profession with unrealistic expectations & an increasing number of training schools (many of which staffed by therapists who can't make ends meet) are happy to take our money. It's only on graduation we face reality & realise there isn't enough demand for what we do to pay the rent. I was lucky to start up 13 years ago, had a marketing background and was able build a company but not sure I could do it again now.
I agree trade associations should support the market by educating the public about why a well trained therapist is best but I also think trade associations have a role in making it clear to people considering entering the profession today that, while it has many rewards, they may not be able to make a living and, if they do, it's hard physical and often solitary work.
Ideally schools should also carry the same reality check (and I know the better ones do) but not convinced there is a way to prevent irresponsible people from painting the sunny but unrealistic picture that keeps them in business.
Thanks, June. This is just the point I was trying to make early on in this thread - but also to hightlight that the potential student, too, has a responsibility to research the market and acquire the necessary skills. There is only so much that one can ocver on a college course! And, of course, our professional bodies (many of which cover Beauty and Holistic Therapies) also need to be more proactive and responsive to membership needs and concerns. Not surprisingly, there hasn't been a single response from anyone representing the CThA Committee (or whatever).
Health care and NHS is another kettle of fish - have you noticed how many nurses, Physio's are offering say Reflexology? Well - unfortunately for us, this type of practitioner will be considered better than the regular Complementary therapist because 'they are a nurse'
I have been sent notification recently on a Seminar for Reflexology and pregnancy - think it is, well, run by nurses trained in Reflexology!
I think expecting to find a" a job" like qualifying as a teacher, nurse etc is not what happens: anyone who has looked at centre advertising waged posts will have seen they pay minimum wage-whether for massage or beauty I notice. I think most people have to expect to be self employed. I think also the concept of being in business doesnt sit easily with some people and that's not their orientation. i think i should have gone for trying to find work in the NHS or similar, not cos i expected a regular waged post but because that is a setting I would be happy in ie public sector with equal access for all.
I came from another profession (social work) where I earned a decent salary and when I was working as a therapist (gave up most of my work in Jan this year)i did up to 4 other sessional/temp posts in social work training and education to make a reasonable living. eventually, especially as the credit crunch hit in, I decided i could not continue earning a few thousand from therapy and went for 2 solid p/time jobs in social work and tutoring and now much better off plus it's easier to divide work from home which hadnt happened for the last 5+ years!
i am lucky tho to have this option....i agree I sometimes felt...even in the eyes of the public...that i was a glorified beautician!!! hope things pick up for the original poster of this
PS if skiing is your thing then there are agencies who offer work over the season in europe...some recently improved their pay but its still low plus getting accom and sometimes a car! but you get a lot of skiing done!
This morning I received a reply from the Dr Edward Bach Centre on our concerns. This is the first reply from the governing bodies and I felt I should share it with you all. I recreate it below word for word as I received it.
Basically, we agree with you. For our part we have always made clear to students that very few BFRPs are able to make a living doing Bach alone. People who do other things besides Bach - either other therapies, or giving training of one sort or another - are most likely to succeed. With our own therapy the likelihood of being self-supporting is even less because good BFRPs teach their clients to help themselves - are in effect continually eroding their own client base. Again, we make this clear in books, on our web site and on courses.
There is as you say a disconnect between companies spending high on marketing etc. but expecting therapists to donate time for free. Unfortunately though this is difficult to overcome, and for each individual therapist the choice is often between saying no to these "offers" (knowing this means that you miss out on an opportunity to tell more people about your services - and that another therapist is probably going to say yes) and saying yes (and feeling exploited).
The Bach Centre
Perhaps this is something the new CNHC can take up in their role to protect the public, in that they could also educate them, particularly around the various types of massages that complementary therapists perform ie. aromatherapy, myofacial release etc. and the potential benefits.
I am not sure what people think the two voluntary regulators are going to be doing but from my experience of when the process first started, they are definately NOT going to be educating the public. Nor were they intended to involve themselves in the plight of therapists who appear to have fallen foul of the numbers and funding game relating to education & funding. As was stated earlier - it is a case of 'buyer beware' ....learners need to do more research into what they are actually going to be able to gain financially from paying out for their vast array of different therapies courses.....clients need to do more research into what they think they are paying for and what the therapies they buy can actually do for them.
I would have argued that it is the Professional Associations and Affinity groups that should be doing the educating of the public and that should be ensuring that learner therapists have sufficient business skills in thewir courses to know how to market, cost and sell their services and how to account for the income and expenditure of their business - whether working as an employee or as a sole trader/limited company. After all, why else do we pay to be members of such groups?.
It would seem that the general perception is that therapists, after being trained, are left to sink and swim and they are deemed to be responsible for what they do with their qualification. The "bodies" don't seem to care, nor do they feel it is their responsibility to assist therapists find placements. This appears to be the case with all educational establishments. We really do seem to be in a bind on this one.
And has there been a squeak from the CThaA management that take our membership feees on this subject? Their silence on this is deafening (as it has been on other issues in the past).
Not many people know, but ALL adult educational establishments with government funding should be providing IAG - Information, Advice and Guidance to their learners. This is one of the OFSTED reporting requirements and establishments are required to include it in their SAR's - Self Assessemnt Reports each year to show how they are improving the quality of their provision. They should also be asking learners to complete Course Evaluations which include this subject.
Additionally, one of the quality criteria for many of the courses funded by the government is that learners should be progressing. Both progression status and where learners ended up, ie in employment, unemployed, not seeking to work, in further education etc are also supposed to be reported.
Wonder how they get at that information ?
It also seems that none of the privately funded colleges/schools etc that pay to have their course 'accredited' by 'Professional Bodies/Affinity Groups' have to go through this process as they aren't subject to OFSTED inspection.
This makes our problem all the more worrysome. I smell a scam do you?
The silence here in Ireland by the governing bodies is just as deafening.
Support your local co-ordinators!
Go to the meetings, they are there to take your queries, complaints to the CThA - WELL that is what 'we' used to do and I still do!
We need to put forward all our concerns en mass to the CThA and be HEARD.
Meetings are for all members of the CThA, you most probably will have to pay a small cost towards the expense of running BUT the benefits are:
I find that unfortunately I do not get the number of attendees that I email about my meetings, why I have no idea........ apathy with the industry?
I have had several comments of 'what really good speakers I get' so it's not boring:)
Find yours today - have your say!
Well, I read so far down this rather long chain of 'lively' emails..... complaints that the 'industry' is apparently not as 'lucrative' as many were 'promised'...... I see.
A surprising number of contributants.
Looks like profit and status matter around here?
That's quite provocative but earning a living certainly does!!
Diplomatically put Rona :)
Do not those beings classified as 'Beauty Therapists' also need to 'earn a living'?
I wonder, as you are already a co-ordinator, would you consider being the co-ordinator for this group and go to CThA on our behalf with the contents of this thread?
I've already contact them on this and other matters and have received nothing, not even an acknowledgement. Perhaps you could consider us as your "virtual group".
I did send an email some time ago, you can see from the posts. I, still have had no reply
One thing I think they will mention is about Regulation and I would think it would weed out non-complimentary therapists but only IF they are not on the CThA list and only on the Beauty therapy part. Well, Regulation is a huge melting pot of problems.
I'm really not sure what can be done about the many colleges producing therapists by the hundreds giving the people the false impression that they can earn a living wage.
I could perhaps ask what they are doing on the publicity front to improve knowledge of the public about Complimentary therapists and how they train?
Are any of you going to the CamExpo??? Because I'm sure Kush Kumar will be there and you could ask him in person:)
I'm not going to the CamExpo because I live and work in Ireland and the cost would be prohibitive right now for me. However I'm about to email the Irish Reflexologists Institute with our concerns and will send out a letter to all the therapists on my data base as well. This is a much as I can do as a self-employed therapist working alone. What good it will do I don't honestly don't know but I will feel that at least I've done my bit.
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Thank your for your very useful information:)) I as you probably know am the co-ordinator for Three Counties Border Group. So, everyone, this is an excellent idea and we should try to have a go:)) !