I am writing this blog post in order to express some current frustrations of mine but out of this frustration is an opportunity to educate you and the public.
Over the past few months, I have been keenly aware of the fact that there are individuals calling themselves "yoga therapists" who have absolutely no training in yoga therapy. I think one perception of this profession is that it is glorified psychotherapy or glorified physical therapy. The truth is, it is neither. Yoga Therapy is its own individual profession with its own (centuries old) philosophy on healing.
In recent months, I have seen individuals who are yoga teachers, licensed psychotherapists who are yoga teachers, clinical social workers who are yoga teachers, and physical therapists who are yoga teachers all calling themselves yoga therapists. The truth of the matter is, they are not yoga therapists. These individuals have not been trained in the art and science of Yoga Therapy.
In order to be a yoga therapist, one has to have either been grandfathered in by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) due to their years of practice and experience, or they have to have graduated from an IAYT accredited yoga therapy training program. Furthermore, IAYT is the only governing authority in the world that can credential yoga therapists. In June of 2016, IAYT will begin their official credentialing process by credentialing individually qualified yoga therapists with the credential "C-IAYT"--this will be the first step towards this profession becoming licensed down the road.
So what is the difference between a yoga teacher and a yoga therapist?
A yoga teacher teaches the practices and principles of yoga.
A qualified and credentialed yoga therapist is an integrative health professional who utilizes the tools of yoga to facilitate healing. Additionally, Yoga Therapy is a holistic practice that is highly individualized and patient-centered.
Yoga Therapy education includes advanced training in anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, pathology, biomedicine, classes on the yoga philosophy of healing, mental health, mind-body science, professional practices, classes on therapeutic relationships, and supervised clinical internships.
My concern and frustration in all of this is, number one, people are misrepresenting themselves and the profession of Yoga Therapy. Two, they are not qualified. Three, this profession is about healing. Not knowing how to properly and ethically utilize all the tools of yoga therapy could harm an individual physically, mentally, and spiritually, or a combination of those.
All of that said, there are psychotherapists, clinical social workers, and physical therapists who actually are IAYT accredited yoga therapists.
The message in all of this is, if you seek the care of a yoga therapist in the future, please make sure they are actually an IAYT credentialed yoga therapist.
Thank you for taking the time to read this!