I find it a little ironic that I’m finally writing about my experience as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) at a time when I’m transitioning away from being an NTP. But I’ve always wanted to write this post so you know what they say..better late than never. That said I’m still using my training as an NTP albeit in a slightly different way (which I’ll explain a little later in this post).
But I think this is still a good time to write about my experience because the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Training Program is growing immensely and I get a lot of questions about it. So I hope this post will be helpful.
First things first…
I’ll include some links at the end of the post with more detailed info but here’s a brief summary:
1. A Nutritional Therapy Practitioner completes an intensive 9-month certification program through the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA).
As stated on the Nutritional Therapy Association website, “The program provides students with a foundation in holistic nutrition and includes the tools to turn that knowledge into a career.”
More specifically, it teaches students how to asses nutritional deficiencies in the body and correct them via diet and supplementation.
This includes learning a detailed client-consultation process which involves the use of nutritional questioning software, a hands on assessment known as a “Functional Evaluation” and a biofeedback technique known as “Lingual-Neural Testing.”
2. A Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Practices Bio-individual Nutrition.
In other words, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner is not taught a “one diet fits all” philosophy. We are all different and a multitude of factors (such as our age, genetics, activity levels, climate we live in and current state of health) will determine an optimal diet.
Much of this philosophy is rooted in ancestral nutrition and the teachings of Dr. Weston Price, a nutrition pioneer, who studied the diets of dozens of traditional cultures in the first half of the 20th century
Dr. Price found a HUGE variety of diets around the globe, some high fat, some high carb, but each one conveying excellent health generation after generation as long as the ancestral diet of each individual culture was maintained.
NTPs are required to read Dr. Price’s seminal work, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and learn about these incredibly varied diets which are united by time-honored traditions in food preparation and cultivation that maximize nutrient density and digestibility. Much of this wisdom has been lost to the modern world and is certainly not taught in conventional nutrition programs in colleges and universities.
3. A Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Practices a Foundational Approach.
Though Dr. Price found vastly different diets around the globe he also found unifying foundations in the health of traditional cultures.
Though we all have different nutritional needs, NTPs learn that these foundations are universal to everyone. The most important one is a properly prepared whole foods diet.
Other foundations include proper digestion, blood sugar regulation, fatty acid balance, mineral balance and hydration.
NTPs learn to assess each of these foundations in clients and how to recommend nutrition and supplement protocols to bring imbalances in those foundations back into balance.
Now just as the program has a foundational approach, I also feel there’s an additional two foundations that anyone who wants to be an NTP must possess.
1. A passion for nutrition.
People are waking up to how toxic our food supply has become. Factory farms, GMOs, chemical sprays, processed foods, the list goes on and on. Though the demand for better quality food is increasing, we have a long way to go. And we need more people to help change it!
If you have a passion for nutrition, the NTA program will fuel that passion even further. It certainly did for me. Almost everyone I know who comes through the program has a newfound understanding for not just nutrition but also for thing like nutrient-dense cooking, sustainable agriculture and even political change on the local and national levels.
2. A passion to help people.
If you’ve been craving a career change that can truly help people, becoming a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner will certainly give you that experience.
Make no mistake about it, YOU WILL CHANGE LIVES.
So many are so sick, so confused and so desperate for help. In fact, many people decide to become an NTP to address their own health challenges.
I was one of them.
By the end of the 9-month program, my many years of chronic digestive issues had faded. And that inspired me even further to take my training out into the world and help others. I can’t tell you how many fellow NTPs I’ve talked to through the years with a similar experience.
But it’s a lot.
I’ll be honest. Starting over with a new career in my mid-30s wasn’t exactly easy. There were many bumps in the road. But I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s led me to where I’m at today, which is a slightly different place than where I started. If you become an NTP, I can almost guarantee you’ll have a similar experience. You’re going to meet some amazing people and you might find the training takes you on a journey you weren’t expecting. That’s just life!
After I graduated from the program I moved to western Massachusetts where I knew NOBODY. So I was starting from an absolute ground zero place. I had to work extremely hard at getting my name out in my community and building a clientele. For many years, I had a part-time job to make ends meet. I made a lot of mistakes but I did a lot of good things too.
For example, as soon as I moved to western MA I joined a business networking group, BNI, that connected me to people in the area. I gave talks at the local library and health food stores. I went to local networking events. I connected with other wellness practitioners. I started this blog. I wrote a book, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution.
And I got more and more clients. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened.
Most of my clients were women with chronic gut issues. And most were eating what they thought was a good diet – whole grains, low-fat everything, juices galore, very little meat and lots of sugar for the physical and emotional (albeit temporary) lift.
Getting my clients to change their diet was not always easy.
But I was good at listening. And I think that’s one of the reasons I was successful at it. My clients really appreciated that even if they never said it. I could see it in their eyes.
And that’s an important skill most NTPs possess because you are trained to LISTEN to your clients. So many people don’t feel listened to by their doctors. They get their 15 minutes (after an hour in the waiting room) and a drug prescription and that’s it.
As an NTP, you will listen to clients and really learn and understand their challenges with changing their diets. Every client is different. For some there are barriers with cooking, with work routines, with family resistance, with social situations or with the dietary conditioning in their own head. You will gently educate them to why their current choices are not helping or even harming them.
You’ll learn to assess where they need the most support, be it digestion, blood sugar balance, etc. And you will gently guide them to make changes.
And it’ll be so very rewarding when they come back to you feeling better. Some will thank you with tears in their eyes.
And then you’ll know it’s all worth it.
My experience working with clients was incredibly rewarding. I did it for 8 years. That said, I learned some things in the process that I wasn’t expecting which took me in an unexpected direction.
As I mentioned above, I started a blog a few years after I opened my practice. I really had no clue what I was doing though. I just thought it was a good way to share my perspective and hopefully get some clients as a result. And it worked.
But then I learned that blogging could actually be a source of income. I started writing and creating more content. I created two online programs. And I wrote two cookbooks on bone broths and broth-based soups (two things you’ll probably recommend a lot to clients with digestive problems).
Eventually, I realized I could no longer do both. That is, work with clients in person and have a successful online presence.
So I chose the latter. I just love writing and want to do more of it. It also re-ignited a love of travel as my last book, The Thai Soup Secret, was born out of a trip to Thailand. I’m actually in the process of turning this blog solely into one based on broths and soups.
I know, crazy, right?
But that’s the thing, you see. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT when you become a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. You don’t have to work with clients.
Some of the more successful Nutritional Therapy Practitioners I know don’t see individual clients. They’ve taken the knowledge they’ve learned in the program and turned it into books, group programs, cooking classes, online courses, wellness retreats, podcasts and even their own line of holistic products. Some become business coaches and help other NTPs with marketing and promotion. Some even take their training into the political arena and become an advocate for small farms and sustainable agriculture.
Many people do several of those things and continue to work with clients 1:1.
It’s totally up to you.
My biggest piece of advice is that if you have a passion for helping others and a passion to learn more about nutrition, just do the program and you’ll figure the rest out.
More than likely, it will change over time. Trust the process and let it take you on an incredible journey. You’ll end up where you’re meant to be.
There’s two questions I get more than any other about the program. So let me address them very quickly.
1. What’s the Time Commitment?
I’d estimate you’ll need about 15-20 hours per week to keep up with the material. Most students with full-time jobs (and that’s most everyone) find time in the evenings and the weekends.
Personally, I found the materials fascinating and looked forward to studying and learning (as opposed to my college experience). I never fell behind or felt overwhelmed by the material.
You’re also required to attend three in-person weekend long workshops over the course of the 9 months. This is mostly to learn the hands on Functional Evaluation but it’s also an invaluable experience to connect with and meet your class instructor and fellow classmates. Many of your fellow classmates will become part of a lifelong network of colleagues and even friends.
I should also mention that there’s a new option to become a Nutritional Therapy Consultant (NTC) which is less of a time commitment. This option wasn’t available when I took the program so I’m not 100% sure about the difference but you can read about it on the NTA website (links below). I believe this option is for those that know for certain they’ll only be working with clients long distance via phone and/or video chat.
2. What’s the Cost?
Listen, we’re not talking a lifetime of debt here. Personally, I found the tuition incredibly reasonable. You can find the cost on the NTA site in the links below. And if the cost is a barrier for you they do offer financing and partial scholarships.
1. Do your research.
Go to the Nutritional Therapy Association website and read everything you can about the program. A good place to start would be the program overview page.
2. See the program start dates and the list of workshop locations.
Thanks to the growing interest in the program, there’s so many workshop locations now. You may be surprised to learn that one is not far from where you live.
Click here to see start dates and venues.
3. Talk to a Lead Instructor.
Sign up for an information webinar. This is an invaluable opportunity to talk to a Lead Instructor and ask questions.
4. Call Me.
I’m dead serious. Please do NOT email me your questions. They take me way too much time to answer.
I’ll be able to answer your questions much clearer and quicker in a phone chat. Please understand I can’t chat for hours on end. But I’m happy to chat for 10-15 minutes.
Simply click here (or scroll up to the top of the page and click the “contact” link on the menu bar) to let me know you’d like to set up a time to chat. Evenings on east coast time (I live in Massachusetts) are usually best for me.
5. Sign up!
If and when you’re ready, you can register for the program by downloading an application at the bottom of this page.
I would greatly appreciate if you could put my name down on the application form where it says, “Who Referred You?”
I do get a small commission which really helps with the costs of running this blog!
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.