Nutritional therapist: job description

Nutritional therapist: job description

Nutritional therapists advise about and treat a wide range of medical conditions by assessing patients' requirements for food, vitamins and minerals while taking general health, well-being and lifestyle into consideration to provide holistic treatments.
Creating personalised nutrition plans is a key task for nutritional therapists.

What does a nutritional therapist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Nutritional therapists work with adults and children who are affected by conditions such as depression, anxiety, learning difficulties, asthma, skin disease, fatigue, weight problems, arthritis, physical, psychiatric and neurological disorders, and migraines.

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • booking and undertaking confidential one-to-one consultations with clients
  • gaining information from clients about previous dietary and lifestyle history
  • analysing and interpreting laboratory test results
  • assessing and planning treatment requirements
  • recommending appropriate nutritional supplements and diets
  • providing education, information and advice about lifestyle, exercise, diet and nutrition
  • creating and keeping accurate confidential records and reports
  • tracking progress of clients on treatment plans
  • undertaking general administrative and business management tasks
  • attending conferences and training events
  • keeping up to date with developments in the profession
  • marketing and promoting the business
  • undertaking financial administration

Typical employers of nutritional therapists

  • Private practices
  • Specialist clinics
  • Complementary healthcare clinics

Qualifications and training required

Nutritional therapy courses are offered at diploma, degree and postgraduate level at a number of universities and colleges. Relevant experience is not normally needed, although course providers may expect knowledge of the profession. To apply for a degree or diploma course you will usually need five GSCEs, including maths and English, and a minimum of two A levels or equivalent qualifications, with at least one in science.

A degree in a relevant subject (for example chemistry, biology, medicine, nursing, nutrition, dietetics, health studies, food science and technology) can be beneficial if applying for postgraduate courses. It is also advantageous to possess a strong science background, for example, A levels or equivalent qualifications in chemistry, biology, physiology, anatomy or food science.

The nutritional therapy profession is regulated on a voluntary basis. Organisations that register nutritional therapists include the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) and the General Naturopathic Council (GNC). Eligibility criteria for nutritional therapists who wish to register with these organisations are set out on their websites.

One route to registering with the CNHC is to take a course accredited by the Nutritional Therapy Education Commission (NTEC). Providers of courses accredited by NTEC are listed on the CNHC website. If you belong to the Naturopathic Nutrition Association (NNA) you can also apply to register with the CNHC through them, if you have taken a suitable course.

Professional associations for nutritional therapists include the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT, formerly the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy), which offers various different types of membership. Full membership is open to nutritional therapists who have trained on a course accredited by NTEC or approved by the CNHC.

The Association of Naturopathic Practitioners (ANP) is another professional body that nutritional therapists can join. The ANP offers a range of benefits including registration with the General Naturopathic Council (GNC). You can find out about eligibility criteria for joining the ANP from its website.

Key skills for nutritional therapists

  • Interactive skills
  • Innovation
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Planning skills
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical and information skills

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