Academy 4 Coaching

Training Professionals to Practice Legally


Interview of Dr. John Gilbert
Naturopath News
February 23, 2007

Since the demise of Naturopath News on December 31, 2008 we feel it's essential to reprint this outstanding interview. We do so with Dr. Gilbert's permission.

NN: Dr. Gilbert is currently the president of the Natural Therapies Certification Board (NTCB). He is the past executive director of the Neurotherapy and Biofeedback Certification Board. He is one of the principals in Natural Therapies Conflict Resolution Services (NTCRS).

NN: Dr. Gilbert, exactly what kind of doctor are you?

JG: Good question. My first doctorate is in divinity with emphasis on comparative religions. My second doctorate was in naturopathy but I relinquished that during confidential negotiations with a medical license board. My third doctorate is in education and business administration.

NN: What medical license board? Explain the details.

JG: Since these were confidential negotiations, on the advise of my attorney I will read you the following statement:

The medical license board investigator and executive secretary summoned me to an informal hearing to discuss pending charges that I was practicing medicine without a license. They had confidential client information indicating that I was diagnosing, treating and curing medical conditions. They thought I was practicing medicine without a license. By their definitions, I probably was. But I never admitted that to the board.

They offered me a deal. The deal was that I would relinquish my ND degree, agree not to practice homeopathy, naturopathy, medicine nor give nutritional advise in that state for the remainder of my natural life. In return they would not prosecute me, fine me or incarcerate me unless I violated this confidential agreement.

On the advice of my attorney, I agreed, signed the papers and closed my part-time business. Several years later I learned that nobody can take your hard-earned degrees away from you except the institution that issued the degree and yourself. I also learned these license board tactics are intended to intimidate unsuspecting people into doing exactly what I did. I gave up without a fight because I thought I was doomed.

NN: What would you do differently today?

JG: Well, first of all, I would protect myself against license board accusations by using a very well constructed informed consent form. I would work with clients only after they understood each paragraph of that form and voluntarily signed it. I would give my client a copy of that form and remind him or her of the contents of that form every time we spoke about her or his health or diet.

Secondly, I would avoid all kinds of counseling, recommending, suggesting, advising, cautioning, prescribing or warning clients about any intervention that might help them. Instead I would Coach and empower my clients to make their own decisions.

Thirdly, I would become certified as a natural health, naturopath, homeopath or nutrition Coach. I would become licensed in my profession at the state, provincial or national level if that were possible. And, I would become licensed as a spiritual healer and practice as a spiritual healer, spiritual health Coach, spiritual naturopath, spiritual homeopath and/or spiritual nutritionist.

Finally, I would join a professional association that provided professional insurance benefits for a reasonable fee.

NN: What licenses and certifications do you have?

JG: Too many to count. Seriously, I do. I am licensed as a traditional naturopath by the License Commission of the Americas. That license allows me to practice aromatherapy, biofeedback, health Coaching, homeopathy, naturopathy, nutritional Coaching and reflexology. I am licensed as a spiritual health Coach through the Federation of Spiritual Healer Licensing Boards. That license allows me to use any spiritual healing technique I choose and any healing technique for which I am properly certified. I keep certified in all of the professions listed and more.

NN: Why would you avoid counseling?

JG: I've watched the trend in license counselors develop for the past ten years. It's gaining momentum. Most states and provinces already license some type of counselor. Over the next few years all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces will license counselors. They will also license more types of counselors. By and large these counselors are not health counselors and they are definitely not alternative health counselors.

NN: As you say, not all kinds of counselors are licensed. Why can't I practice as a naturopath counselor?

JG: Today you probably could in many states and provinces. But that would be very risky in the states that license medical naturopaths like Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Connecticut. But licensed medical naturopaths is just another trend that will continue to grow and finally explode in the US and Canada.

NN: I still don't understand why I can't function as a counselor.

JG: As I said, today you probably could. But in a few years every state and province will license counselors and if you don't have one of their licenses, you will be guilty of practicing counseling without a license. There are two trends happening here. The first is more and more people are becoming licensed as counselors. The second is that more and more kinds of counselors are being licensed. Both trends will continue to grow and expand in my opinion.

NN: But why is that a problem for naturopaths who counsel their clients?

JG: The more powerful a license board becomes, the more exclusionary they become. They protect their own and eliminate all competition to the best of their ability. The more people they license, the more people they charge with practicing their profession without a license. I've watched this trend for several years and it seems that each year more counseling boards are getting larger and more people are being charged with practicing counseling without a license.

NN: So, being a Coach protects one from being charges for practicing counseling without a license? Its that right?

JG: Precisely. If you're not counseling, counseling boards have no jurisdiction over you.

NN: You said you'd become certified as a naturopath Coach. Is there a certification board that will do that?

JG: Yes.

NN: Which one?

JG: The Natural Therapies Certification Board certifies Naturopath Coaches.

NN: What benefit is it for me to become certified by them as a Coach?

JG: The greatest benefit for any certification is the perception of the public. One benefit is Naturopath Coaches pay about half as much for professional insurance as other naturopaths. Another is certified Naturopath Coaches can join an association for less and obtain conflict resolution benefits that will resolve any problems they have with any license board. There are other benefits for Naturopath Coaches who join a professional organization like the Natural Therapies Association of North America. {{Editor's note: Todat the TNCEA or TNEAA is a better choice.)

NN: I understand you're one of the people who helps naturopaths resolve issues with medical license boards. How is that going?

JG: Unfortunately, it's a booming business. More and more license boards are investigating more and more naturopaths all the time.

NN: What boards?

JG: Counseling, psychology, psychotherapy, medical and dietician boards are investigating naturopaths for practicing their profession without a license. In a few cases chiropractors, medical doctors and nurses have been investigated by their own boards for improperly practicing their profession.

NN: Please explain this investigating process.

JG: It usually starts out because a client or licensed professional charges you with illegally practicing some profession. These complaints are turned over to investigators who work for the board, the police, the district attorney, the state or provincial attorney general or some other enforcement agency. These investigators usually make an appointment with you for some specific complaint. They ask questions designed to encourage you to do what they think you're doing. They really do try to trap you.

These investigators do an in-depth background check of you. They attend local gatherings and ask if anybody knows a natural doctor. When they hear your name, they interrogate the speaker until they glean all the information about you they can.

When the investigator is ready to confront you they have the option of arresting you. But in my experience, most of the time they request your presence at a hearing to discuss your business. If you don't show up, then they have a warrant issued for your arrest. If you show up, they will ask you questions about what you do. These questions will become more and more specific. In the end, they will accuse you of doing everything they can prove you do and everything they can imagine you might do.

What starts out as a friendly discussion gets very confrontational even if you have an attorney. The investigator usually has recordings and pictures. The more convinced they are that you really are practicing some profession without a license, the more investigators they have to testify against you.

Finally, one of your inquisitors or observers will make the statement: "I'm going to place you under arrest for - fill in the blank. If you're convicted, and with the evidence we have already, you will be convicted, you will face a fine of - some big number - and incarceration up to blank years. The following silence is intended for you to process the possible outcomes.

Then a friendly voice intrudes the silence and says: "But we can make all of this go away if you agree to accept our terms." The terms are you will agree to voluntarily stop doing what you are doing under threat of the penalties already explained being implemented if you should violate the agreement.

If you sign the agreement you're literally out of business. If you don't sign, you're in for an expensive court battle you have a very small chance of winning. That's really sad, because all of this can be avoided.

NN: How?

JG: Become certified as a naturopath, homeopath or nutrition Coach. Use a very well constructed, up-to-date informed consent form. Join a professional organization with great benefits and stay current with developments in your profession.

NN: How does one keep their informed consent form up-to-date and why?

JG: If you use the right educational organization to help you construct your informed consent form, you will have lifetime access to their current teaching materials at no additional cost. One such organization is the Academy 4 Coaching.

We live in a time when things are changing rapidly. Five years ago naturopaths could counsel their clients without fear. Today that is not the case. In the future it will be a profession killer. Other things will change. Right now, I tell professionals to update their informed consent form annually. Within a few years it will probably be necessary to update these forms quarterly or even monthly.

NN: One final question. Do you see a trend growing in license naturopaths and what can traditional naturopaths do to survive this trend?

JG: There's definitely a trend in license medical naturopaths. Seven more states are in the process of license medical naturopaths. Four more colleges are in the process of being accredited to offer medical naturopath training. Codex Alimentarius, and that's another whole discussion, is spending millions to lobby for this to happen. The drug companies want more professionals pushing their drugs. The one thing I know about the drug companies is they have billions of dollars to buy exactly what they want.

In my opinion there are several survival strategies for being able to continue doing what you love to do:

  1. Become licensed as a traditional naturopath
  2. Become licensed as a traditional homeopath
  3. Become licensed as a spiritual healer
  4. Become licensed as a spiritual health Coach
  5. Become certified as a naturopath Coach
  6. Become certified as a homeopath Coach
  7. Become certified as a nutrition Coach
  8. Become certified as a natural therapies specialist
  9. Become certified as a health Coach

The more putative license boards become in your jurisdiction, the more you need to take a serious look at being licensed as a spiritual healer or Coach.

NN: Thank you.

Editorial Update: Licensed Traditional Naturopath and Licensed Traditional Homeopath licenses are no longer available at this time. August 15, 2011.

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