The intention of this page is to give you a basic understanding of the legal system and natural healing so you can do additional research and contact with your local or regional organizations. More specific information is also contained in the course “Legal and Ethical Consulting“. Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic. If you have additional questions please send them to us at: CustomerService@TheBEarthInstitute.com.
What is an affiliation?
An affiliation is a relationship one organization has with another that indicates approval. The process of affiliating with an organization is not the same process as accreditation. However, it is similar and usually involves a measure of the same standards. Affiliation with an organization is what happens when that organization does not offer accreditation as an option. Affiliations can be just as valuable as accreditations.
Being affiliated with an organization indicates, “this organization is approved by us but we don’t offer accreditation so we are simply saying they are affiliated or accepted by us.” Affiliation with an organization means that students and/or graduates are able to become members in that organization, that their credits are accepted by that organization, and that they are often eligible to take board exams, transfer credits and more. Affiliation offers most of the same benefits as accreditation.
Affiliation is usually a free service.
Is the Avicenna Institute affiliated with any organizations?
Yes, we maintain an affiliation with the American Association of Traditional Naturopaths, The Board of Natural Medicine Certification Council, and the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants.
We can have an unlimited number of affiliations. If you want us to be affiliated with an organization in your area please submit our information to them via this page HERE.
What is accreditation?
There is a lot of confusion about this term because once an organization gets accredited by anyone under any circumstances they “fly the flag” of accreditation, raise their prices and make exaggerated claims about what they are able to offer. This is misleading. We are dedicated to transparency and honesty in this area so we will share the reality with you below.
The term accreditation simply means, “a process of validation in which colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated.” That’s all it means. The standards for accreditation are usually set by an, organization, a person or a peer review board.
However, this is where it gets “tricky”. Some review boards are sponsored by the state and members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities, some review boards consist of only one or two people, some review boards simply charge a fee and then issue a statement that your organization is accredited.
In addition there are hundreds of organizations that offer accreditation in each state and region. In institution could become accredited by the state of Iowa but this would have no value for someone in another state. It also has no value for most review boards.
This is because there are also different kinds of accreditation. An institution could become accredited as an educational institution (this simply means they can teach something – anything), they could become accredited as a medical institution (meaning they could issue MDs), they could become accredited by the herbal guild in their state, by the county agricultural board or even by the city design club.
Ultimately, what you want as a student, is to know that the organization you are attending is led by legitimate teachers, offers teacher contact and/or feedback, offers legitimate text books and topics of study, offers the number of hours to earn your degree, keeps records for each student, holds themselves accountable to a certain standard, is dedicated to giving their students the skills and tools they need to succeed and has a back-up plan in place if something were to happen to the institution. Accreditation should indicate that all of these requirements are met.
However, this is not necessarily true with every accreditation process. Instead of asking, “is your organization accredited” the student should be asking, “what accreditation requirements does your organization fulfill”?
Under all circumstances accreditation is an expensive and lengthy process which can often be political or restrictive.
Does accreditation guarantee me anything?
No. If you read the definition of accreditation again you will see that it is simply a statement and not a guarantee. There are no guarantees with accreditation. It does not guarantee you can sit for the state boards, it does not mean you will be accepted to the herbalist, homeopathic or other organization you apply to. It does not even mean your education is guaranteed.
A good example is the institution previously known as Clayton College of Natural Health. They were accredited as an educational institution in their state but students who paid tens of thousands of dollars for their courses found out later that they would still need to apply for approval to various natural healing boards in their region. To make matters worse, as you may already know, Clayton College of Natural Health closed and did not have security measures in place for their students (like we do).
Is the Avicenna Institute accredited?
We maintain the requirements for being accredited and post these on our accreditation page so you can submit these to the organizations and boards in your region. We do we feel it is valuable to the student, to pursue accreditation from one institution in particular when this title will not help you as a student. In addition, it is impossible for us to apply to each institution individually for each student.
Instead we are dedicated to seeking affiliations, approvals and partnerships with organizations that are valuable to you.
Since it is impossible for us to predict what our students may need from year to year and impossible for us to keep up with accreditation by hundreds of organizations we have chosen to submit our standards on an individual basis based on your needs.
Why is accreditation mentioned by the Natural Healing Institute of Naturopathy?
The Natural Healing Institute of Naturopathy (NHI) says: “For license and certification, states have recognized training only from state-approved, state-licensed colleges. It is easy for schools to buy or receive “accreditation” from a private accrediting group, but that accreditation bears absolutely no legal or significant meaning.When students graduate from a state-approved, state-licensed school, a student will be grandfathered in when programs later become licensed! States and cities only grant licensing and give reciprocity if you attended a state-approved, state-licensed school anywhere in the country.”
The issue with this statement is that they (along with a few other “Naturopathic” organizations”) do not define the word naturopathy in the same way. Organizations like the NHI consider the word “naturopath” to apply only to students who have attended one of the three physical medical-ND colleges in the United States such as Bastyr University.
So while their statement does point out an important point (that accreditation can be purchased) – we do not agree with their premise that naturopaths also have to be medical doctors. We believe in the rights of traditional naturopaths (as defined by the AATN).
Unfortunately, organizations such as the NHI present themselves as working to gain more rights for naturopaths when in reality, they are working with the medical profession to restrict the rights of traditional healers. Their statement sounds grand, but in reality they are using fancy language to say “you can only be a naturopath if you graduate from Bastyr or the other two physical colleges – all of which require you take the same classes as an MD”. This is why they make the statements they do about accreditation – they are talking about the same accreditation that is awarded to most MDs.
Be careful what organizations you get your information from and which ones you support. We support Traditional Naturopaths as defined by the AATN and will always support the rights of those students and professionals who have this title.
What is a membership?
A membership means that and individual or organization applied to and paid to become part of an organization, network with other professionals and perhaps receive a newsletter or access to member-only privileges. A person or organization can be a member of any number of organizations. This indicates that the person or organization is using these memberships to connect with others. It also indicates that the person or organization had to submit their qualifications to the organization to become a member. So, for example, to become a member of the National Center of Homeopathy we had to submit documentation of our work in the field.
Is the Avicenna Institute a member of any organizations?
We can have an unlimited number of memberships. If you want us to be member with an organization let us know. Since membership usually requires a payment we would need to contact them directly. The Avicenna Institute is a member of The American Herbalist’s Guild, The American Nutrition Organization and the National Center for Homeopathy.
What does it mean to be licensed?
A license is a document given by the government and is considered a government privilege. This privilege may be bestowed by the federal, state or local government. A license involves the police power of the state. That is, if one violates the licensing law, either by acting without a license, or failing to uphold true rules governing that license privilege, one is subject to prosecution under civil or criminal laws of the governing body. The purpose of licensing is to restrict entry and control a profession or activity.
For this reason you will notice that within your state not all natural healing fields have an available license within your state. This is because natural healing only recently became regulated and controlled by many states. This can have a positive and negative side. On the positive side it can lead to better standards in the industry. On the negative side it can lead to additional restrictions for practitioners. For example, 15 years ago a person could become an herbalist and work in Iowa. Today they would need to be licensed as an MD or Chiropracter to legally talk about herbs. 15 years ago a person could practice reflexology in Iowa. However, today, one must be licensed as a massage therapist to do so. In some areas you have to be both licensed as a massage therapist and a reflexologist.
You will need to check with the licensing requirements in your state. If an activity does not have an available license there are usually no restrictions on the practice of that activity. So, for example, I can practice iridology in Iowa without a license. If an activity does have an available license and you cannot gain that license then you would need to avoid advertising that you are offering services in that area and would only be able to offer similar services under a different name. For example, if herbal healing has a required license in your state you can either acquire that license or you can offer herbal advice as a nutritional consultant or teacher, but not as an herbalist that gives advice about which herbs could heal a particular ailment.
What is certification?
Certification is a statement that a student has completed a course of study, passed an examination or otherwise met specific criteria for certification in that field of study. Certification is not a regulated permission to act by the government but rather is a statement of completion or qualification. Certification is issued by private organizations. it does not involve the police power of the state and is not a state privilege.
Certification is based on the premise that citizens have a right to work. It also provides the client with information about their practitioner. For example, if you walk into an office and see that someone has a certification for aromatherapy on their wall then you know that they have dedicated some time to studying aromatherapy.
Certification also provides practitioners to improve their competency, to gain new knowledge, keep up with new or changing information and to advertise to others that they have completed a specific course of study. Certification by an institution can be used to gain access to a license. Usually, to earn a license in a state, the first step is to show you have a certificate so you can qualify to take the licensing exam.
It is like when teens take a diver’s ed class (in Iowa – but this is different in different states). The class does not earn them a driver’s license but taking the class is what gives them the right to take the test for the license.
What are the requirements to earn a doctorate degree?
A doctorate degree is the highest level of academic degree. Everyone is familiar with the medical doctor, who holds an M.D. (Medical Doctorate). But you can earn a doctorate in almost any subject area. For example, most states require licensed psychologists to hold a doctorate degree in psychology. Typically a doctorate degree takes four years to complete, post-bachelor’s degree. If you already hold a master’s degree, you may be able to complete a doctorate in the same subject area with only three years of additional full-time study. It is possible to “fast-track” and combine these degrees by accumulating the hours required for each degree. In the United States a doctorate will require about 90 to 120 semester credits and usually requires that you submit a final doctoral thesis of at least 15-30 pages, which is then reviewed by a Ph.D. or board.
However, the requirements for a Ph.D actually vary in each country and vary largely between Universities even within the same country so you cannot assume if someone else has a Ph.D. that they studied the same number of hours or the same materials that you did. Although we don’t consider Wikepedia a 100% reliable source of information this short Ph.D. article is an interesting insight into the many faces of the Ph.D. and can provide you with some insight.
This degree allows the holder to teach at the University level. This is why the courses and materials you take at The Avicenna Institute are provided by Ph.D.s. The Avicenna Institute offers you a respected Ph.D. by assuring you fulfill the required number of hours, produce a final thesis paper, and are supervised by a Ph.D.
Can I really earn a Ph.D. online?
Yes, this is an acceptable and widespread option for many students in the modern world. Many colleges such as the University of Phoenix offer online doctorates.
Can I use my Naturopathic ND in my region or state?
This depends on your state. Each state is different. Some states do not recognize anyone as a naturopath unless they have graduated from one of the three physical (not online) colleges in the United States such as Bastyr University in Washington. All of these three colleges require that students complete the requirements for an MD as well as an ND. Other states, such as Michigan, recognize traditional naturopaths and accept that you are a naturopath when earning a degree from The Avicenna Institute and many other institutions.
Can I use my Ph.D in my region or state?
This depends on each state. Check the requirements for your state. In all cases you can use the Ph.D. after your name. In some states this also allows you to use the title of Dr. In some states and some countries you can only use the title of Dr. if you are an MD.
Can I call myself a Dr. if I have a Ph.D?
What does it mean to be board certified?
There are a lot of certifying boards out there. Each one says that they are the “only one” or the “standard” but there is not any board, as of now, that is recognized as official by any one organization. There are more than 30 certifying boards for naturopathy in the United States and over 50 for nutrition. If you or an organization you are part of is certified by a board it does not guarantee this certification will have any value beyond the fact that it “sounds and looks impressive”.
The only exception to this would be if your state or region requires you are “board certified” by a specific organization before you can take the licensure exam. If this is the case then you would need to be “board certified” by a specific organization required by that specific state. Being “board certified” in general does not mean it is the correct one you need for that state. If you are seeking “board certification” make sure it is the specific one you need for your state.
And yes, you will usually need to go through the entire process again if you move to a different state or region. It is the same for medical doctors and teachers. The good news is that not all states or regions have the same requirements so if you are fortunate your move will take you to a less regulated state.
Do I need to be licensed to practice?
This absolutely depends on your state. Some states like Texas do not have licensing requirements. However the state of Washington does. Please check with the AATN for additional information or contact a holistic organization in your state. The basic rule is – if your state offers a license in an area you will need a license to say you are practicing in that area of expertise. However, if your state does not offer a license this means they are not currently regulating this field of work so you can work in that field without a license.
Keep in mind that you can use your skills and certifications without a license as long as you do not work in that capacity. So, for example, you may not be able to work as a full-time reflexologist in your state without a license. However, you could teach clients about the benefits of reflexology and demonstrate the techniques they can use at home for optimal well-being.
How do I know who to contact in my state?
I have been able to find information and contacts for all states I have researched by visiting Google.com and then typing in the state name and then key words like “holistic medicine” or “natural healing” and “legal”.
What can I call myself?
In some states you can call yourself a naturopath but cannot use the designation ND. In some states you can use both. In some states you are so restricted you cannot even call yourself an herbalist and naturopath is completely out of the question. What you can call yourself completely depends on your state and can change from year to year so it is good if you can be in contact with someone from your state. The AATN can also help with this. In Virgina and in Iowa, as well as many other states (as of July 2o15), you can use the designation Ph.D once you finish this program. You are then able to legally call yourself a doctor as long as you always follow it with the Ph.D. So I can write Dr. Kristie Burns, Ph.D. but I cannot write simply Dr. Burns.
I tend to prefer using names that are considered legal in most regions and states just so I don’t need to keep changing my presentation. I always put the Ph.D after my name, and hang all of my degrees, certifications and conference awards in my office. However, I advertise myself as a “Well-Being Consultant“. I often focus on bringing in clients for Typology & Temperament evaluations or Iridology readings and then use those as avenues for helping them find a healthy and holistic path in their life. Copying my method you will find that you do not have issues in any state or region.
Other popular all-around-safe terms include well-being coach, life coach, wellness coach, iridologist and typology consultant. However, you must also be careful about the words you use in the consulting sessions and how you present yourself to your clients.
What do you mean – be careful about the words I use?
When I wrote to the state of Iowa they sent me a long list of words I can’t call myself. But this list also included terms I am not allowed to use unless I am also an MD. Some words are designated to be used exclusively by physicians and thus it is illegal to use those words if you are not an MD. These words include: heal, prescribe, medicine, dosage, prescription, healer, cure and many more. Some words are also reserved for certain other degrees. For example you cannot use the word “dietician” unless you actually have a specific degree in that field. However, you can usually call yourself a “nutritionist”. You can read more about these words in the course, Legal and Ethical Consultations.
Will my credits transfer to another institution?
In all circumstances this needs to be cleared with the “other institution” first. Many will accept your credits from The Avicenna Institute. However, they usually want to see some additional information about our school. You can find this information HERE. On that page you can see that various institutions have already accepted credits from The Avicenna Institute of Natural Healing including Harvard University. Keep in mind that some institutions are very closed to accepting credits and that transfers have become more and more difficult in recent years. My college age daughter attended two state schools here in Iowa and the second one would not accept all of her credits from the first one even though both are accredited with the state of Iowa and highly regarded. So there is no guarantee but most allow you to submit paperwork to transfer credits and make appeals.
Will my credits count towards Continuing Education credits (also known as CEUs)?
This also depends on the board you are submitting your credits too. We have had many students use our courses for CEU credits around the world. However, recently a teacher submitted the course, Typology and Temperaments to earn teaching CEU credits and was denied in Alaska. We are working to remedy this situation with the Alaskan board. However, the process will take about six months and it is only with the teaching board in that state. Each state has numerous boards for different professions. If your continuing education board requires information about The Avicenna Institute you can direct them to this page HERE.
Will The Avicenna Institute accept credits from another institution?
What does all this mean for my business?
Business-wise you will find, as I have, over time, that most of your business will be word-of-mouth and clients will seek you out for your skills. They will appreciate that you have taken the time to get a naturopathic degree and have attended seminars (if you do) or studied other topics (if you have). Most will not consider your title or what you call yourself important. Clients will evaluate you by what you are offering and what you can do for them, what your results and track record are. As long as you are honest you will find clients who can benefit from what you offer.
Your clientele are only limited by your own perception of limits. As we learn more and more about natural healing we forget that there are still some people who consider a McDonald’s salad healthy and can’t understand why they have anxiety issues after drinking ten cups of coffee a day. Even if you never earned a degree and simply offered to help coach people in how to become educated about taking control of their own well-being you would find an endless amount of clients.
You do not need to have a fancy title, license, or MD to have a successful business. Business is based on marketing, targeting your audience and being honest about what you offer. So if all you can offer is a homemade herbal salve you learned how to make in the courses and sell that – you could make thousands of dollars by selling that one item alone. Be sure to always remember – success and business are different from titles, degrees and your skill as a healer.
I understand that I can be as successful as I want to – but what are some limitations I may encounter?
I have found that there are very few limitations you will encounter if you market yourself in the correct manner. As I mentioned before – there is always some aspect of what you can offer that you can market. You may be able to work as a natural health journalist or blogger, consultant, product developer, or even at a natural health store. You could even develop your own line of natural beauty or herbal products.
Another opportunity is to join together with other natural practitioners. At first it may seem like there are limits in this area. For example some offices say they can “only accept applications from board certified naturopaths who studied at one of the three physical naturopathic colleges in the USA (not online). However, despite this “requirement” I once cooperated with a natural healing office as a consultant in iridology rather than as a naturopath. If you want to join a practice with other practitioners there is usually a title you can join under that will work with the group.
You can always ask us for help with specific situations you may find yourself in.
Can I accept insurance?
This also depends on your state or region. In Iowa, for example, they only allow MDs and chiropractors to submit insurance claims. However, in the state of Washington an acupuncturist can submit claims. This may also vary depending on the insurance company. There is a growing movement to establish insurance companies that cover natural healing practitioners. You may want to encourage your clients to look into some alternative insurance companies as many existing traditional companies have been slow to accept any natural healing modalities.
However you can still be “budget-friendly” without accepting insurance. Some clients appreciate it if you offer a discount for payment in full if you are not able to accept insurance. Others appreciate payment plans or the option to consult with you online or during a mini-consult for a reduced cost.
Tip from a student: The CNC I (already) have (from another institution) is recognized by insurance companies as a nutritionist but not an RD. I am sure the same goes for Avicenna’s CNC. This is a new thing with insurance companies. Two years ago you still had to be an RD. Now they are seeing the economics in preventatvie and alternative care. Which is why I appreciate the individualized certifications through Avicenna as well. So even though VA does not license naturopaths I can do more with my individual certifications such as the aromatherapy and refloxology certifications will prefice me to wear clothing like in a medical spa without me charged as presentign myself as a doctor. – Unita Walburn
What are the experiences of other students?
We would love to hear about your personal experiences. Send us a note and we will post your experience here to help other students.
I applied a member to the American Association of Drugless Practitioners when I got my certificate in holistic nutrition. This school also wasn’t listed but it was approved. For this full naturopathy program, they will definitely accept it. This is more of an accrediting body and you can become “board certified” by becoming a member.
In VA I can call myself doctor when I graduate as long as I do not present mysef as a medical MD. We cannot wearing medical coats, etc. But the PhD allows me as well as any PhD to cal themselves doctor. I plan to list myself as CNC, MH, ND-PhD. I am a licensenced and credential to recieve individual insurances as a CNC. Once patients are in my office I then incorporate all my modalities.
Jennifer Confalone-Potruff Dnm DO
I’m in Ontario Canada. Here it is tricky. Naturopaths are regulated here. So are Homeopaths, Acupuncturists and TCM practitioners. Nutritionists are not and neither are Herbalists. Because of this I can’t use the ND designation or title. I have a Doctor of Natural Medicine designation I use and I use my Herbalist designation (I studied herbal medicine for 4 years) and I am a Manual Osteopath. So I use those. I am planning on applying to the regulatory body for Naturopaths as I have a lot of education in all areas that the full time schools teach, so if that happens I’ll be able to use ND but if I don’t then my other option is to register as a TCM practitioner but that regulatory body is much more expensive. You just have to know the laws in your area. The laws here say I can’t use Naturopath or ND. It’s frustrating as I will have 3 ND degrees by the time I’m done. But unless I’m registered with the regulatory body I can’t use those. So frustrating because here it is important to people to see the “Naturopath” and by want their insurance to cover it which I only have osteopathy covered right now. So if I can get regulated that’ll help me. But know what the laws are will allow you to practice. If the laws state that you have to be registered to be a Naturopath, see how. Is it only by graduating from the full time schools, or is there a prior learning assessment option. If there is, find out what their standards of practice and entry to practice are and make sure you have that. That’s what I’m going to have to do.