The world of health and wellness is a large and sometimes confusing one, but it doesn't need to be. Many wellness practitioners may have similar titles but there are in fact differences between them when it comes to their training, approaches, and certifications or licensing requirements.
Abundance Coach. Helps clients believe in themselves so they can make changes and attract financial abundance.
Acupuncturist. A practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, who uses needles to target different energy points and the meridians or channels through which energy flows. The typical length of a program in acupuncture is three years. There is a growing body of studies devoted to acupuncture, many of which are positive, especially when it comes to conditions like lower back pain, nausea, neck pain, and headaches.
Addiction Recovery Coach. Helps encourage people suffering from addiction issues to create better habits.
Alternative Medicine Practitioner. A broad designation that covers practitioners outside the typical Western paradigm.
Anger Management Counselor. Helps individuals dealing with explosive anger issues find ways to control their anger.
Aromatherapist. Works with essential oils and scents to bring about healing. Aromatherapy is often combined with yoga or massage therapy.
Astrological Counselor. Provides advice based on readings of the stars, including birth charts and current astrological conditions.
Ayurvedic Doctor. Practices a holistic Indian philosophy of the body based on the belief that an individual's health depends on a balance between the body's elements. According to WebMD, Ayurveda holds that people are composed of five basic elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. These commingle in different proportions to form different body types, which are called "doshas." The National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) and its accreditation council (NAMAC) oversee Ayurvedic qualifications in America.
Ayurvedic Health Counselor. Makes diet and lifestyle advice recommendations in keeping with Ayurvedic principles, aiming to prevent disease and promote a healthy lifestyle and diet. The required training is not nearly as lengthy as that for becoming an Ayurvedic doctor and consists of a NAMA-approved course of studies.
Ayurvedic Practitioner. Receives, according to NAMA, "full clinical training in disease pathology, as seen through the Ayurvedic model”.
Bereavement Coach. Helps clients with the emotional distress of losing a loved one.
Biofeedback Therapist. Employs electronic monitoring to help people gain more control over bodily functions like heart rate. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can help anxiety, chronic pain, and ringing in the ear, among other difficulties. Biofeedback therapists tend to be doctors or psychologists who have added biofeedback tools to their arsenal.
Birth Doula. Provides non-medical support during pregnancy and childbirth. After childbirth, birth doulas can help new mothers with the necessary skills for maternal and natal health.
Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition. Has received certification in holistic nutrition from the National Association of Nutritional Professionals (NANP). Holistic nutrition, according to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, takes into account "a whole-life approach — when and where you eat, where your food comes from, and what your food ate.”
Breathwork Practitioner. Uses a variety of possible breathing techniques to alleviate mental distress or induce elevated states of consciousness.
Cancer Recovery & Prevention Coach. Supports people suffering from cancer or at risk of it to make healthy lifestyle and diet choices.
Certified Clinical Aromatherapist. Has received certification from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) showing study and knowledge of essential oils and their applications, as well as basic botany, organic chemistry, and aromatherapy safety issues.
Certified Dietary Supplement Professional. Has been certified by NANP to guide people toward supplements that are evidence-based and right for their personal health situation and individual needs.
Certified Health Coach. Helps motivate clients to achieve their health goals by having clients clarify their wellness aims and subsequently providing them with benchmarks and accountability. The National Society of Health Coaches provides a pathway to certification.
Certified Health Education Specialist. An individual who has met the highest standards in health education determined by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.
Certified Herbalist. Uses the healing properties of plants to help their clients' health and is so certified by the American Herbalists Guild.
Certified Nutrition Consultant. Assesses patients' diets and lifestyles and highlights areas that can be improved. Certification comes from the American Association of Nutritional Consultants (AANC) usually following a degree in dietetics, and a series of exams.
Certified Nutrition Professional. Refers to either a Certified Nutrition Consultant or Certified Nutrition Specialist, with qualifications varying depending on which category is involved. The Certified Nutrition Specialist is “the most advanced certification for personalized nutrition practitioners,” according to the American Nutrition Association website. A Certified Nutrition Consultant usually completes a certificate program following a degree in dietetics.
Certified Nutrition Specialist. Provides advanced nutritional advice in settings like hospitals and clinics, that is, in places where clients have more specific nutritional needs. Certification is by the American Nutrition Association.
Chakra Healer. Channels energy to make sure the chakras are open and energy can flow freely. Chakras are an ancient Sanskrit system of energy points or centers in the body. In this system, there is a physical body and an energetic body. The energetic body has seven chakras. According to this philosophy, chakras must be open for the body to properly channel energy and avoid disease.
Chakra Healing Practitioner. Uses such modalities as meditation, yoga, and essential oils to help people balance their chakras.
Childbirth Educator. Offers scientific, physiological information about labor and childbirth to expectant parents.
Chiropractor. A trained professional who cares for the neuromusculoskeletal system and aligns the spinal column through gentle, hands-on adjustments. A Doctor of Chiropractic degree is usually a four-year program post-undergrad.
Chronic Illness Recovery Coach. Helps inspire people dealing with chronic illness to see that healing is within reach and provides tools, specific goals, and strategies to heal.
Codependency Coach. Helps people regain their sense of self and set goals for achieving healthy relationships; holds clients accountable for maintaining boundaries in relationships to avoid codependency.
Cognitive Behavior Therapist. Practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which according to the American Psychological Association is based on addressing patterns of unhelpful thoughts and behavior. CBT is practically focused on the present. It is considered an effective treatment for disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Confidence Coach. Specializes in inspiring their clients to overcome shyness and become more confident in social settings.
Corporate Wellness Consultant. Helps corporations design programs to support employees' nutritional, exercise, and stress management needs.
Crystal Healer. Uses the traditionally reputed healing properties of crystals.
Dietetic Technician Registered. Licensed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and generally works under a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to help supply quality food and nutrition services in settings like hospitals and clinics. A Dietetic Technician Registered may work on their own in places like schools and daycare centers to provide general nutrition education to healthy populations.
Divorce Recovery Coach. Helps clients make good choices in the wake of the emotional and possibly financial trauma of divorce.
Dietetic Technician. Has completed a course of study in nutrition care.
Dietitian. Helps people form healthy habits in their nutrition and diet. If registered, see below under Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. If not registered, there are no specific requirements for the title. Some states legally require registration, however.
Doula. Provides support and guidance, typically during childbirth, but now also through a range of medical or life events, including miscarriage and death.
Ecotherapist. A psychologist who, as part of their practice, works out ways for patients to spend more quality time with animals or in nature in order to receive the healing benefits of the natural world.
Emotion Code Practitioner. Practices a specific energy-based therapy designed by retired chiropractor Dr. Bradley Nelson. Practitioners help individuals find and address their emotional and energetic blocks to allow the body to heal itself.
Emotional Intelligence Coach. Uses the theory of emotional intelligence, developed by Reuven BarOn, Ph.D., to support clients in the process of making better decisions.
Empowerment Coach. Helps individuals get unstuck and feel empowered to make positive decisions and take action in their lives.
End-of-Life Doula. Provides emotional support and perhaps support in the form of gentle physical touch to people who are dying.
Empty Nest Coach. Provides clients with inspiration and concrete goals to help them get through the difficult emotional transition of children leaving for college.
Energy Healer. Works across a range of techniques like Reiki to restore the body's energy and improve its flow to improve health.
Family Coach. Helps clients to improve their family dynamics and face their unique challenges.
Fertility Specialist. A doctor, typically an OB/GYN, who has undergone additional training in fertility-related issues.
Fitness Coach. Empowers clients to live a healthier lifestyle. Their services might include personal training but also nutrition advice and fitness-related goal setting.
Goal Attainment Coach. Works with clients to achieve their own personal definition of success.
Grief Counselor. Provides therapy and counseling to people who have suffered bereavement or loss.
Health Coach. Works with individuals to motivate them and help them set and achieve specific health-related goals.
Health & Fitness Coach. Someone who motivates individuals to feel in control of their health, transform their relationship to their bodies, and improve their overall fitness.
Health Recovery Coach. Typically works with people who have suffered from chronic illness and are looking to regain control of their healing potential.
Health & Wellness Coach. Helps clients set and achieve health goals, such as fat loss, better energy levels, or stress management. The emphasis is on shifting behavior and setting goals, rather than acting as a personal trainer.
Herbal Practitioner. Uses plants and herbs for holistic healing, typically in a long-standing tradition like traditional Chinese medicine or Ayurveda. This term is interchangeable with "herbalist."
Herbalist. Uses plants and herbs to help the body heal. Herbal medicine focuses less on particular symptoms and more on the individual and the underlying cause of their malady. Herbs are often given in tincture or tea form.
Holistic Chef. Prepares food in keeping with holistic nutritional principles, that is, with the whole body in mind. The emphasis is on maximizing the nutritional value of food and making sure that its elements are all in support of a client's overall health goals.
Holistic Health Coach. Urges clients to look not only at isolated aspects of their health but at the integrative big picture, including relationships, spirituality, and mindset.
Holistic Nutritionist. Uses natural whole foods to heal patients' ailments. 'Holistic' implies that the emphasis is on the whole person, rather than isolated symptoms, so a holistic nutritionist will also look at patients' overall big picture and lifestyle, as well as their diet.
Homeopathic Practitioner. Uses the system of homeopathy, developed in Germany in the 1700s. It is based on the premise that "like cures like." A very small amount of a plant or mineral that causes similar symptoms in a healthy person is diluted in a pill or tincture and given to an individual in the belief that it will spur the body to heal itself.
Hormone Specialist. A doctor with advanced training and expertise in conditions related to hormones. Hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol, serve as chemical messengers in the body, regulating areas like growth, stress responses, and sexuality.
Human Design Practitioner. Uses a New-Age system of thought that combines elements of Kabbalah, astrology, and Eastern meditation to help individuals discover their individual paths. Human Design was founded by Ra Uru Ha, né Alan Robert Krakower.
Infertility Coach. Helps couples to find motivation and joy in life while going through the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Introvert Coach. Helps clients achieve their goals in life while acknowledging and embracing their unique strengths as introverts.
Intuitive Healer. Not traditionally qualified but uses their intuitive skills to help diagnose and sometimes treat patients. This usually involves taking a reading of their biomagnetic energy.
IVF Coach. Helps inspire and support clients undergoing IVF. They look out for everything life-related beyond actual medical concerns, which may support IVF success.
Kundalini Teacher. Trains students in breath control, movement, and increasing energy in the "subtle body", to awaken their Kundalini force. Kundalini, meaning "coiled snake" in Sanskrit, is considered a form of divine feminine energy that Kundalini adherents believe can be awakened to lead to a state of bliss and enlightenment.
Lactation Counselor. Helps new mothers navigate issues related to breast milk and feeding their newborns. These could be physical, like poor milk supply or sore nipples, or emotional and psychological issues caused by difficulties in lactation or bonding with a newborn.
Law of Attraction Coach. Inspired by the idea that inner states shape external reality, helps clients adjust their mindset to create and manifest the life they want.
Licensed Dietitian. A dietitian who has been recognized by either the Commission on Dietetic Registration or the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists, based on their education and experience. This allows them in turn to receive state licensing.
Licensed Herbalist. A herbalist who has met the requirements of an organization like the American Herbalists Guild or the American Association of Natural Wellness Practitioners can be considered certified. There are, however, no licensing requirements for herbalists unless the herbalist is also an acupuncturist.
Life Coach. Works with clients to identify things that are holding them back, and helps them work through and overcome obstacles. A life coach can help clients see opportunities they may be missing, as well as help identify unique strengths and talents. A life coach can help with general issues like confidence or abundance, or specific ones (such as sobriety and addiction).
Life Force Energy Healer. Looks for blockages in life force and opens them up to avoid disease and promote good health. Life force energy is concerned with "prana," or "Qi," the basic primal energy that moves through every living thing and needs to flow freely for individuals to live their fullest and healthiest lives. Techniques for life force energy healing might include Reiki.
Manifestation Coach. Uses the Law of Attraction to help clients pinpoint the mental and subconscious blockages that are preventing them from manifesting their desires in reality.
Marriage Coach. Specializes in helping support clients set goals that relate to improving the dynamics of their marriage.
Master Mind Coach. A facilitator of a group of like-minded peers who can essentially coach each other. The facilitator lets the group do most of the work. The premise of master mind coaching is that creating the right mix of people facing similar challenges will let them find solutions and implement success together.
Medical Herbalist. Interchangeable in the U.S. with "herbalist." In the U.K., it can suggest that the holder of the title has "completed degree-level qualifications, or, equivalent," according to the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. In the U.S., the American Herbalists Guild recommends approximately 800 hours of education and 400 hours of clinical practice to become a herbalist.
Medical Intuitive. Uses their natural intuition to diagnose disease. An intuitive may receive training to enhance this skill, though private institutions exist that offer certificates in Intuition Medicine and short training in reading the electromagnetic energy field that surrounds the human body.
Meditation Guide. Helps meditators enter a state of intense, calm, focused relaxation. A guide may help meditators achieve mental clarity by encouraging them to focus on their breath, or on different parts of the body, and encouraging them to progressively relax. A guide may also use a guiding narrative, or paint a mental picture of a soothing landscape.
Midwife. Assists in the process of labor and delivery. There are different degrees of midwife certification, including nurses who have additional qualifications as midwives. The American Midwifery Certification Board and the AmerIcan College of Nurse-Midwives offer certification.
Mindfulness Meditation Teacher. Focuses on mindfulness meditation, which according to the Mayo Clinic, emphasizes "being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment".
Motivational Coach. Offers their clients support and encouragement as they identify and work through their problems.
Native Healer. Uses indigenous American health traditions to help clients heal their ailments, usually involving the use of traditional herbal remedies, with the overall goal of being in harmony with nature.
Natural Health Coach. Motivates clients to take control of their health by looking at gaps in their nutrition, physical activity, relationships, and spirituality, finding concrete ways to improve their wellness in an integrative way, and setting specific goals to enhance their wellness.
Nature Immersed Core Energy Coach. Helps a client locate the core issue that is holding them back and find ways to tackle it. Nature immersion draws on research in ecopsychology, showing how being in nature helps to reduce stress and promote healing.
Naturopath. Uses natural remedies to encourage the body to use its own self-healing capabilities.
Naturopathic Physician. A graduate of an accredited four-year graduate-level school of naturopathy.
Naturopathic Practitioner. Could refer to any naturopath (who may be non-traditionally accredited), MDs who have additional naturopathic training, or naturopathic physicians.
Nutrition Consultant. Looks at clients' current eating habits, points out where their nutrition is not meeting their requirements, and suggests improved meal plans.
Nutrition Therapist Master. Nutrition Therapist Master certification is provided by the Nutritional Therapy Institute to signify 500 hours' worth of study on the human body and its interactions with nutrition.
Nutritional Coach. Empowers their clients to make healthier eating choices.
Nutritional Studies Coach. Helps clients better understand the world of nutrition and motivates them to gain knowledge of this complex field, so as to make healthier choices.
Nutritional Therapist. Works with patients to help them make healthy changes to their food intake. It requires a BS or similar degree and subsequent certification by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board.
Nutritionist. Provides information about healthy food choices and diet in order to positively affect changes to their clients' health. State requirements for nutritionists differ. When certified by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, they can earn the title, "registered dietitian" or “registered dietitian nutritionist.” When registered, these terms are interchangeable. Without registration, there are no standardized qualifications for nutritionists. A clinical nutritionist has an academic degree in nutrition and has completed additional training that varies by state. State requirements also vary as to whether nutritionists require licensing.
Parenting Coach. Provides support and tools for parents dealing with specific parenting issues or particularly difficult times of transitional courses, and is certified by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNBC).
Performance Coach. Supports and motivates clients to find places where they can improve their career performance level and keep raising the bar on their career success and achievement.
Personal Development Coach. More focused on holistic life improvement, a personal development coach focuses on asking clients where they are in life and where they'd like to make improvements. Personal development coaches then help motivate and provide tools and support so that people can make those improvements.
Personal Chef. Cooks meals for private clients. personal chefs usually work on a retainer basis and make meals according to clients' dietary needs.
Pilates Instructor. Delivers instruction in the system of exercises developed by Joseph Pilates. These exercises may involve machines like reformers or props like Pilates balls. They are intended to maximize core strength and flexibility in a low-impact fashion that preserves joint health.
Positive Psychology Coach. Focuses on positive psychology, a field pioneered by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., that seeks to cultivate positive psychological states like optimism and joy. Positive psychology coaches empower clients to feel more positive emotions in their lives and make changes to engender these emotions.
Pregnancy Coach. Focuses on giving pregnant clients tools and motivation to get through the difficult transition period that is pregnancy.
Prenatal Fitness Instructor. Trained in helping women maintain their physical health before giving birth.
Psychologist. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, "psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments". To practice clinically, psychologists must have at least a master's degree, and many have a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) degree and have completed their state‘s licensing protocol. Clinical psychologists may specialize in specific areas (eg, LGBTQ issues) or techniques (like cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT).
Purpose Coach. Focuses on helping motivate clients to discover their purpose and help them act upon that knowledge.
Qigong Practitioner. Practices Qigong, an ancient Chinese martial art involving meditation and slow, controlled sequences of movements designed to shift energy ("Qi") in the body.
Qigong Teacher. Transmits Qigong teaching and exercises to others. A teacher can be certified by the National Qigong Association ranging from "Level 1" to "Senior" according to their years of personal experience as well as formal training.
Qigong Therapist. Helps transmit their own Qi to clients to help clients' Qi flow more freely (as in energy healing).
Raw Food Transition Coach. Helps clients who want to make the change to eating only raw foods, making the progression manageable.
Reflexologist. A practitioner who puts pressure on certain points in the feet, ears, and hands in the belief that stimulating these points can help the body and organs function better. Practitioners who have the requisite training and pass a national written and practical exam are certified by the American Reflexology Certification Board.
Registered Aromatherapist. Has met the requirements for certification by the Aromatherapy Registration Council. These involve a high level of knowledge, agreeing to uphold the council's ethical standards, and a commitment to the safe and effective practice of aromatherapy.
Registered Dietitian. Interchangeable with "Registered Dietitian Nutritionist“.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Has met the requirements laid out by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), involve a bachelor’s degree in dietetics with coursework approved by the ACEND, followed by supervised practice at a suitable facility, passing a national exam set by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), and fulfilling continuing education requirements. From 2024, a Master’s degree (not just a Bachelor’s) will be required to be recognized as an RDN.
Registered Holistic Nutritionist. While there is no national registry of holistic nutritionists, board certification by the National Association of Nutritional Professionals (NANP) and the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board (HNCB) is available.
Reiki Master. Has completed all three levels in the study of Reiki, a Japanese energy healing system that does not involve physical touch.
Reiki Master Teacher. Has achieved a slightly more refined level of energy attunement than a Reiki Master. They can be licensed by the International Center for Reiki Training but not necessarily.
Reiki Practitioner. Someone who practices Reiki, a Japanese system of energy manipulation, to promote stress relief and relaxation. Typically, Reiki practitioners put their hands over (but not on) a patient's body.
Relationship Coach. Helps motivate and give tools to individuals to improve the quality of their relationships.
Self Talk Coach. Helps clients create an internal monolog that is positive rather than harsh and full of judgment.
Sex Coach. Motivates and support clients looking to improve their sex lives.
Shaman. Shamans are religious practitioners who invoke spirits or spiritual energies for healing or transformation.
Skin Therapist. Takes a holistic approach to improving the health of the skin.
Sleep Coach. Focuses on giving clients tools to enjoy better and more restful sleep.
Spiritual Healer. Helps channel spiritual energy into a client in order to heal them.
Sports Nutritionist. Focuses on the dietary requirements needed to maximize athletic performance.
Stress Management Coach. Helps clients manage their response to stress, which can be chronic issues in their life or stem from specific sources or transitional periods.
Tai Chi Practitioner. Engages in Tai Chi, an internal Chinese martial art with meditative, self-improvement, and self-defense properties.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioner. Versed in traditional Chinese medicine, an ancient system of herbal and energy medicine that includes modalities such as Chinese herbalism and acupuncture.
Time Management Coach. Helps clients see where their time management is lacking and how they can make improvements to maximize their productivity.
Traditional Herbalist. Works in a particular tradition such as TCM or Ayurveda, using herbs and plants in a holistic way to improve a patient's health.
Transformational Life Coach. Helps people see where they are settling for limiting patterns in their life and gives them tools to create a richer, more fulfilling existence.
Trauma Coach. Helps individuals who have suffered trauma (physical, emotional, or sexual) see how they might approach setting goals in their lives to get back to a fuller existence and a sense of peace of mind.
Vegan Health Coach. Helps clients take part in a vegan lifestyle that also supplies them with all their nutritional needs.
Weight Management Coach. Helps motivate clients to take stock of their weight, set goals to manage it, and hold them accountable.
Wellness Educator. Teaches approaches to mental balance, eg, reducing anxiety and depression, and increasing self-compassion and self-care. Typically this is a position on campuses and in corporations.
Women's Empowerment. Involves any process designed to boost women's agency. This could involve education, making a concerted effort to listen to women's voices, or ensuring there is workplace parity between men and women.
Yoga Nidra Instructor. Yoga Nidra is a relaxing, stress-reducing form of yoga. An instructor helps students achieve this state of peaceful consciousness, usually via guided meditation.
Yoga Teacher. Instructs clients in the ancient Indian system of yoga, which comprises a number of physical exercises, philosophies, meditations, and breathing techniques all designed to still the mind and induce a feeling of calm. Individual yoga studios provide teacher training, usually requiring 200 hours of instruction. The Yoga Alliance is one organization that provides certification, but it is far from universally required.
Yoga Therapist. Uses yoga's healing properties in a therapeutic fashion, to promote mental healing and recovery from trauma.
Zen Healer. Draws on the principles of Zen Buddhism, which seeks to find a sense of peace via detachment and quieting of the ego.