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Finding a therapist

Nurse and patients talking about cancer

This page tells you about how to find a reputable complementary therapist. There is information about


How to find a therapist

It is vital for your safety that your complementary therapist has the necessary training and qualifications. Some hospitals and cancer centres offer complementary therapies to their patients – either in the hospital or near to the hospital. All hospitals that employ complementary therapists make sure they are appropriately qualified.


Finding a therapist privately

Finding a private therapist can involve some work for you. Professional bodies representing certain types of therapy can put you in touch with a reputable therapist. But it is worth remembering that therapists register voluntarily and not all of them do so. 

Depending on the type of therapy it is best to have a therapist who is registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) or the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

You can also find the appropriate professional organisations for specific therapies in the individual therapies section. They can give details of some types of therapist, such as music therapists, art therapists and drama therapists. 

Some of the general complementary therapy organisations may also be able to help you to find someone suitable.

When looking for a therapist

  • Contact the CNHC, HPC or relevant professional organisation
  • Ask for a list of therapists in your area
  • Ask the organisation what level of qualification and training therapists must have before they are allowed to register
  • Check if the organisation has a code of practice and ethics, and also disciplinary and complaints procedures (the better complementary therapy organisations do)
  • Ensure that the therapist you find keeps to these codes and procedures

Questions to ask a therapist

Once you have found a therapist you think is suitable, it might be helpful to talk to them before making an appointment. You could ask

  • How long they trained for and how long they've been practicing
  • If they have insurance (in case of negligence) or what happens if you have an injury on their premises
  • How often they treat people with cancer
  • If there has been any scientific research into using their therapy for people with cancer
  • About the benefits you may be able to expect from using the therapy
  • How soon might you expect to see some benefit from the therapy
  • How long your course of treatment might be
  • How long a therapy session will last and how much it will cost
  • If the therapy has any side effects
  • If the therapy interacts with any medications you are taking
  • If it is cheaper to book more than one session at a time
  • Where you can get more information about the therapy they offer

Other issues you may want to find out about are

  • If you have difficulty moving around, you may want to find out if there is a lift or wheelchair access at the practice
  • If their therapy is covered by private health insurance (if you have it)

Take your time to decide on the right therapist to help with your specific needs. It is important to feel comfortable with them and understand what you might gain from using the therapy. 

Ask yourself and your therapist

  • Is the therapy just for relaxation purposes?
  • Will it help to control some cancer symptoms and side effects?

Stopping a therapy or changing therapist

You may decide to stop using a specific therapy, or change your therapist, for several reasons

  • You may not feel comfortable or at ease with your therapist
  • You may feel you aren’t getting any benefit from the therapy
  • You want to try something different
  • You can’t afford the therapy sessions

The decision to begin or end a therapy is yours alone. If the therapy doesn’t suit you, then let your therapist know that you would like to stop. It may help to talk to your therapist about why you want to stop, as there may be something they can do to help you.


Problems with your therapist

If you have a serious problem with the way your therapist has treated you, you may want to make a formal complaint or talk to someone about it. How you go about doing this will depend on whether or not the therapist is working for the NHS or in private practice.

If the therapist works for the NHS, the following people or organisations will be able to advise you about making a formal complaint

You can also look at our information about making a complaint about healthcare services.

If you want to complain about a private therapist, you will need to contact their professional regulatory body. Therapists usually register with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) or the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

If the therapist doesn’t belong to a professional body, you will find it very difficult to get help with making a complaint. So it is important to make sure they are registered before you see them for treatment.

Each therapy listed on our individual therapies pages has a paragraph about finding a therapist, which gives more information about specific professional regulatory bodies and their contact details. If the type of therapy you are interested in isn’t listed, you can contact one of the following organisations for advice

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Updated: 24 October 2014