As you may be aware, the field of Yoga Therapy is an emerging profession in the field of Complimentary & Integrative Medicine.
The immediate answer to the question asked in the title of this blog post is...anyone can call themselves a yoga therapist. Kind of a scary, right?
In the field of yoga, training to become a yoga therapist is very different from training to become a yoga teacher.
For any profession to gain acceptance in the medical community and the world at large, an organization that represents a particular profession must create educational standards for that profession. For yoga therapists, that organization is the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).
That being said, creating educational standards for a profession is only half of what needs to occur for a profession to become established. The other half of the equation is credentialing individuals within that profession.
Starting in June of 2016, IAYT will begin credentialing individual yoga therapists with the credential, "C-IAYT." Those post-nominal letters will validate that an individual is indeed certified by IAYT, the only governing body of yoga therapists in the world.
Certifying individual yoga therapist is the first step IAYT will be making in the direction of yoga therapy licensure. Full licensure of this profession will likely be a few years out. Right now, IAYT is focused on creating one standard for yoga therapists.
If you seek the care of a yoga therapist before June of 2016, please be advised to find out one's educational experience and whether they are a IAYT member or have attended an IAYT Accredited Yoga Therapy Training Program.
In the spirit of transparency, if someone is calling themselves a yoga therapist and they are not a member of IAYT or they have never trained in an IAYT accredited yoga therapy school, they are not a yoga therapist.
Becoming a yoga therapist takes training and education in the following areas:
Yogic Philosophy on Healing
Supervised Clinical Experience
Within the yoga community, there are many people who have wonderful intentions and sincerely want to help people but without meeting the minimum standards set forth by IAYT for the yoga therapy profession, one could unintentionally cause another harm.
As you can see, being a yoga therapist takes great skill and knowledge of medical science, yoga, and the therapeutic relationship.
So...who can ethically call themselves a yoga therapist?
Only IAYT accredited individuals.
P.S. The picture above is with a coulple of colleagues of mine in the Yoga Therapy program.