Traditional Chinese medicine therapist

A traditional Chinese medicine therapist


Traditional Chinese medicine therapists use alternative medicine approaches to cure illnesses in all its forms. They also use various therapies, such as herbal medicines, acupuncture, massages and dietary therapies, to increase the general health of the patient and prevent a disease from occurring.

Includes doctors of medicine or other healthcare professionals (e.g. midwife).

Here are the typical duties of traditional Chinese medicine therapists:

  • Conduct thorough assessments of patients’ health, considering physical, emotional, and lifestyle factors.
  • Develop personalized treatment plans based on TCM principles to address specific health concerns.
  • Administer acupuncture treatments to stimulate specific points on the body for therapeutic purposes.
  • Prescribe and prepare herbal remedies to support patients’ health and well-being.
  • Perform cupping therapy, gua sha, and other TCM modalities as appropriate for individual cases.
  • Educate patients on lifestyle adjustments, including diet, exercise, and stress management.
  • Monitor and evaluate the progress of patients throughout the course of treatment.
  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as Western medical doctors, when necessary.
  • Stay updated on advancements in TCM, attend training, and participate in continuous professional development.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to traditional Chinese medicine therapist:

therapist in TCM
practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine
TCM practitioner
traditional Chinese medicine practitioner
TCM therapist
specialist in traditional Chinese medicine
Chinese medicine therapist
TCM specialist
therapist in traditional Chinese medicine

Working conditions

Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapists may work in private practices, holistic health clinics, or integrative healthcare settings. The working conditions can vary, and practitioners may need to adapt to the preferences and needs of their clients. The role may involve flexible hours, including evenings and weekends, to accommodate patients’ schedules.

Minimum qualifications

To become a Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapist, individuals typically need formal education and training in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This may include completing a degree program in acupuncture and TCM from an accredited institution. Additionally, practitioners often undergo clinical training and gain hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced TCM practitioners. Licensing or certification requirements may vary by location, and practitioners should adhere to the regulations in their region. Continuous learning, attending workshops, and staying connected with the TCM community contribute to the ongoing success of TCM Therapists in providing holistic and effective healthcare.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Traditional Chinese medicine therapist is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Traditional chinese medicine therapist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to traditional chinese medicine therapist.

complementary therapist
occupational therapy assistant

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of traditional Chinese medicine therapist.

  • Pathologies treated by acupuncture: The types and range of conditions, such as physical pain, headaches, back pain, allergies, addictions, digestive problems or cold, which are treated by acupuncture.
  • Biomedicine: The study of the human body in relation to medicine and the environment. This includes the applications and practices involved in biological and natural sciences.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine: Theories of traditional Chinese medical practices that put emphasis on various mind and body practices, as well as herbal medicine to treat or prevent various health problems.
  • Phytotherapy: The characteristics, the effects and the use of herbal medicines.
  • Human physiology: The science that studies the human organs and its interactions and mechanisms.
  • Human anatomy: The dynamic relationship of human structure and function and the muscosceletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, integumentary and nervous systems; normal and altered anatomy and physiology throughout the human lifespan.
  • Pathology: The components of a disease, the cause, mechanisms of development, morphologic changes, and the clinical consequences of those changes.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of traditional Chinese medicine therapist.

  • Counsel healthcare users on medicines: Discuss and agree with healthcare users on the appropriate use of medicines, providing the healthcare user with sufficient information to assure the safe and proper use of the medicine.
  • Empathise with the healthcare user: Understand the background of clients` and patients’ symptoms, difficulties and behaviour. Be empathetic about their issues; showing respect and reinforcing their autonomy, self-esteem and independence. Demonstrate a concern for their welfare and handle it according to the personal boundaries, sensitivities, cultural differences and preferences of the client and patient in mind.
  • Monitor patients’ progress related to treatment: Observe and report on healthcare users’ response to medical treatment, monitoring their progress or decay on a daily basis and modifying the treatment procedures whenever necessary.
  • Maintain work area cleanliness: Keep the working area and equipment clean and orderly.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Develop therapeutic relationships: Maintain the individual therapeutic relationship to engage the individual’s innate healing capacities, to achieve active collaboration in the health education and healing process and to maximise the potential of healthy change.
  • Advise on healthy lifestyles: Promote healthy lifestyles, preventive measures and self-care by strengthening empowerment, promoting health and enhancing behaviours and therapeutic compliance, providing patients with the adequate information in order to support compliance with and adherence to prescribed treatments, medication and nursing care.
  • Follow-up on healthcare users’ treatment: Review and evaluate the progress of the prescribed treatment, making further decisions with the healthcare users and their carers.
  • Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, ask questions as appropriate, and not interrupt at inappropriate times; listen carefully to the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
  • Observe healthcare users: Observe healthcare users and record significant conditions and reactions to drugs, treatments, and significant incidents, notifying a supervisor or physician when required.
  • Promote mental health: Promote factors that enhance emotional well-being such as self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose in life, control of one`s environment, spirituality, self-direction and positive relationships.
  • Ensure safety of healthcare users: Make sure that healthcare users are being treated professionally, effectively and safe from harm, adapting techniques and procedures according to the person’s needs, abilities or the prevailing conditions.
  • Apply context-specific clinical competences: Apply professional and evidence-based assessment, goal setting, delivery of intervention and evaluation of clients, taking into account the developmental and contextual history of the clients, within one`s own scope of practice.
  • Monitor patient’s health condition: Frequently examine the mental or physical health condition of a patient, monitor the use of medication and report on their condition to your superiors or to the patient’s family.
  • Refer healthcare users: Make referrals to other professionals, based on the healthcare user’s requirements and needs, especially when recognising that additional healthcare diagnostics or interventions are required.
  • Apply massage therapy: Apply massage therapy to relieve patient’s pain by using various specialised techniques.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of traditional Chinese medicine therapist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Complementary and alternative medicine: Medical practices which are not part of the standard care in healthcare.
  • General medicine: General medicine is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • Pharmacology: Pharmacology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • Composition of diets: The planning, selection, composition and manufacturing of diets for healthy and ill persons.
  • Sterilization techniques: The methods and techniques used to destroy or remove microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria that can contaminate medical instruments or any type of material in a health care setting.
  • Relaxation techniques: The various methods and techniques used to alleviate stress and bring peace and relaxation to the body and mind. This includes activities such as yoga, qigong or t`ai chi.
  • Auriculotherapy: Alternative medicine therapy, which has as its basis the idea that the ear is a microsystem that represents the entire body. Thus the physical, mental or emotional health conditions can be treated from the ear surface by means of reflexology and acupuncture.
  • Acupuncture methods: Techniques and methods used to normalise the flow of Qi energy in the body for relieving pain and related symptoms by applying various specific types of needles into different acupuncture points.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of traditional chinese medicine therapist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Educate on the prevention of illness: Offer evidence-based advice on how to avoid ill health, educate and advise individuals and their carers on how to prevent ill health and/or be able to advise how to improve their environment and health conditions. Provide advice on identifying risks leading to ill health and help increase the patients’ resilience by targeting prevention and early intervention strategies.
  • Select acupuncture points: Based on the examination of the patient and his/hers symptoms, decide on which acupuncture points to be stimulated and with what technique.
  • Apply acupuncture: Use procedures involving the stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques, such as penetrating the skin with thin, metallic needles manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation to relieve pain or achieve other therapeutic benefits.
  • Provide health education: Provide evidence-based strategies to promote healthy living, disease prevention and management.

ISCO group and title

2230 – Traditional and complementary medicine professionals

  1. Traditional Chinese medicine therapist – ESCO
  2. What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine? – WebMD
  3. Traditional Chinese Medicine: What You Need To Know | NCCIH
  4. Featured image: Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash
Last updated on December 25, 2023