Complementary Therapy Week: Meet the Tutor

This Complementary Therapy Week, we sat down with Specialist Lecturer Nancy, to learn all about working in the industry, what to expect from a typical day and more.


This Complementary Therapy Week, we sat down with Specialist Lecturer Nancy, to learn all about working in the industry.

Name: Nancy Tobitt-Yates
Job title: Advanced Tutor
Number of years working at Oaklands: 15 years
Number of years working within the industry: 21

What inspired you to work in the Complementary Therapy industry?

I worked as a scrub nurse for 15 years and loved my job thoroughly. I have always had a fascination with all things anatomy and physiology.

After the birth of my child I decided that on-calls and shift work were sadly not compatible with family life. This was influenced by my realisation that health was something to treasure, using preventative methods rather than the last resort of surgery.

I became more and more interested in alternative, complementary therapies. I retrained in antenatal education as a teacher for the National Childbirth Trust and taught adult and teenage classes for some years (this included teaching parents massage for childbirth and baby massage following birth). During this time I saw the amazing impact that Complementary Therapy had on overall health and wellbeing of parents and children alike. This irrefutable evidence is what spurred me on to train in further complementary therapies and consequently led into teaching, which has enabled me to pass on these skills and share good practice amongst as many students as I could.

What is your favourite thing about working in the industry?

My clients and students!

I am so lucky to work with intrigued students and interesting people. I enjoy learning new skills and there are always more skills to learn in this industry, which changes all the time to encompass evidence based practices. I often liken working with people’s bodies to being a body detective where you try and unpick and work out what the physical and psychological issues are, in order to create physical and psychological equilibrium for your clients. The satisfaction when this all comes together is addictive!

What gives you the most pleasure about training future complementary therapists?

I enjoy the realisation that happens when my students begin to witness the link between the emotional and physical imbalances in the body. The power that they have at their fingertips to not only provide physical therapy, but effective advice and suggestions for lifestyle changes for their clients and the consequent positive impact that this can have for their continued improvement, overall health and wellbeing.

This realisation can create a zeal for learning further techniques and trainings that enhance not only their employability skills but also, their own ability to set up their own private practices. 

Would you recommend working within the industry?

Of course I would recommend working in the industry for all the above positive reasons but the biggest and overriding factor is the ability to work with other Complementary therapists as they are generally amazing, inspiring and thoughtful and caring people. This makes for a supportive, caring and often inspiring working life.

Describe a typical day as a complementary therapist?

Complementary therapy can be physically challenging for the therapist themselves. The trick is to keep fit, perform daily stretches, have complementary or alternative therapies yourselves (swap treatments with other therapists) and make sure you make time for this in every working day.

Every day is always different as each client will appear with a very different set of expectations and issues for you to work with. As I said before, being an inquisitive ‘body detective’ helps. Clients will tell you what they want you to know but their bodies give up the ‘clues’ that help you to really work out what is going on for them. This allows every treatment you perform to be different, interesting and always so satisfying when you start to really make a difference to clients comfort levels both emotionally and physically.

I have experience supporting women in labour, sports men and women in training for Iron women/man events and marathons, post-traumatic event therapies for fire servicemen and women, rugby teams, baby clinics, Mother and baby unit for mental health, to name but a few – So you can see the variety and differing skills needed. It has been a constant intellectual and physical joy.

I have recently retired from a full-time contracts and gone back to staff bank teaching this year, just teaching on the L3 Complementary Therapy course at Oaklands College. This is so that I can fulfil my final careers work, offering therapies for clients with life limiting conditions. I have spent the last three years training to provide this in hospices and privately, and I feel this is a fitting stage of my career. I started working with babies and parents and have gone thorough all aspects of active and lively life styles, and am now slowing my career down in order to offer treatments to clients who previously had been denied the comfort of any complementary therapies, due to their life limiting condition.

With this specialist training, clients can now receive the comfort of a relaxing and non-medical treatment at any stage of their health at a crucial time in their life cycle. This is something that I am hoping to teach at Oaklands as a post-graduate course for past students who, through their own private practices, have realised that this new training is crucial to offer a full service for all clients, at all stages of their lives.

End of life care, in my opinion, was a previously ignored part of our health care system. The Hospice movement was born out of this premise and is to this day, mostly charitably funded. I have felt passionately for years that this is something I wanted to try and offer to clients at a time where medicalisation is a massive part of their lives. With this relatively new (to the industry) training I am now in a position to do this in a comforting, calm and totally non-medicalised way. It seems like exactly the right thing for me to do at this time in my career and I am looking forward to working with a vast variety of clients who are all experiencing the commonality of end of life diagnoses.

So as you can see there is not really a typical day for complementary therapists, it’s what you choose to make of it and there is so much to choose from!

How can I become a Complementary Therapist? 

As mentioned in Nancy’s interview, you can start making the right steps towards a successful career in complementary therapy by enrolling onto the Level 3 course at Oaklands College, where you will benefit from Nancy’s expansive wisdom, knowledge and experience. 

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