As more and more people choose complementary practitioners alongside orthodox medical treatments, the public and medical profession are becoming more interested in the safe practice and efficacy of complementary therapies. Regulation balances the interests of consumer protection with the profession's needs for agreed minimum standards and continued innovation and development. Unregulated therapies can be perceived as less safe, for example, due to the lack of nationally agreed training standards and disciplinary procedures. The public's only course for redress in unregulated therapies is the Common Law - an expensive and long-winded legal action rather than the implementation of a professional disciplinary procedure.

What is regulation?

Regulate v.t

1. To control by rules.
2. To keep in order.

Regulation n.

1. The act of regulating.
2. A rule or order.
(Source: Chambers Paperback Dictionary. Chambers Harrap Publishers, Edinburgh, 1992).
Regulation is defined as a process of controlling something through rules to keep it in order. It is often perceived as negative - words such as "control", "rules" and "order" do not sit comfortably with therapies whose approach involves an holistic view of healthcare. However, regulation can be a positive development for the complementary therapy professions. In this situation, we can replace the negative terminology with positives such as "unifying", "professional competence", "good practice" and "public safety".

Statutory Regulation and Voluntary Self-regulation

There are two categories of regulation applicable to the complementary therapy professions: voluntary self-regulation and statutory regulation. Statutory regulation is recommended in therapies where there is a higher possible risk to the public from poor practice. Most complementary therapies choose a voluntary self-regulatory system the most appropriate route for their therapy. See future information sheet "What is the difference between statutory regulation and voluntary self-regulation?"

What is Regulation?

Regulation acts as a framework for good practice - outlining minimum standards for accountable, safe and effective practice within a complementary therapy. In the healthcare environment, regulation involves establishing rules and standards for training, practice and registration, as well as the implementation of processes to tackle complaints and deal with disciplinary procedures.

Regulation is

Led and agreed by the profession - it requires openness within the whole profession to work together to agree standards. A framework for safe and accountable practise of complementary therapy. Helpful to the public when choosing a practitioner. Helpful to practitioners by supporting their daily work and identifies good training providers for initial training and continuing professional development.

Regulation isn't

Government determined or imposed by Europe - British Common Law applies to the practice of complementary therapy. The medical profession imposing it's standards on complementary therapy designed to undermine innovation and development within complementary therapy. Without help - complementary therapies can access external support from specialist agencies, for example, Skills for Health, the Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health and business support agencies.

Regulation Does it have to be a medical model?

Regulation for the complementary medicine professions does not result in the adoption of a medical model of regulation. Each complementary therapy develops it's own voluntary self-regulatory framework, using the core features of regulation.


The aim of regulation in the healthcare environment is to protect the public and the profession.

The purpose of regulation is to establish a nation-wide, professionally determined and independent standard of training, conduct and competence for each profession for the protection of the public and guidance of practitioners and employers.

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