What is an Ayurvedic Health Counselor

Becoming an Āyurvedic Health Counselor is the first step on the educational path for any new student of Ayurveda.  

Students take part in a 600 hour program typically over the course of 1 – 2 years.  As of July 1, 2021 students will be required to complete a minimum of 180 hours of onsite or in person study to meet their requirements.  

Schools are currently offering a mix of in person study (which is optional) and online study to complete these requirements.  

In addition to the course hour requirement for Ayurvedic Health Counselors, students pursuing their AHC certificate must meet a minimum requirement of 50 patient encounters.  These encounters are typically offered as a part, or additional component of the AHC program, and are required for graduation.

Āyurvedic Health Counselors are competent in health promotion and disease prevention. They utilize the principles of Āyurvedic medicine to create diet and lifestyle recommendations according to their assessment of:

  • The patient’s Āyurvedic constitution and imbalances
  • State of the doṣhas (energies believed to circulate in the body and govern physiological activity)
  • Digestive and metabolic strength
  • The strength and robustness of the body’s tissues
  • The quantity and quality of the body’s waste products
  • And evaluating the mind.

They educate, motivate and counsel patients in order to support them to be successful in implementing the principles of Āyurveda into their lives. Āyurvedic Counselors refer patients whose disease state is beyond the third stage to Āyurvedic Practitioners or Doctors of Āyurveda for diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

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Both Ayurvedic Health Counselors and Ayurvedic Practitioners use diet and lifestyle in order to provide preventive health care and health promotion. The main difference between these two levels of practice is that the Ayurvedic Practitioner is a professional with additional training in pathology and disease management beyond that of the Ayurvedic Health Counselor.

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When we talk about the “Scope of Practice” of either an Ayurvedic Health Counsellor, Practitioner or Doctor, this describes the area in which a healthcare provider practices, including procedures, actions and processes. By understanding what can be expected from a professional trained in a particular discipline, the consumer has a frame of reference when choosing healthcare options.

Ayurvedic Health Counsellors, Ayurvedic Practitioners and Ayurvedic Doctors alike need to possess certain skills and knowledge to fulfil the basic needs of those who ask for their services. Basic training includes ::

  • Counselling skills in the form of a professional “bedside manner,” 
  • Taking a detailed current and past personal and family health history,
  • Taking basic vital signs such as blood pressure.
    They will also assess physical and mental constitutions and physical/mental imbalances using Ayurvedic diagnostic methodology.

The very foundation of Ayurveda is understanding and determining which qualities are predominant in someone’s original constitutional makeup, and which qualities prevail to cause any current imbalances. Ayurvedic Professionals should have competence in determining which tissues and channels/pathways are affected in a presenting imbalance, regardless of their chosen level of education. Through questioning and observation, Professionals will determine the clinical state of the digestion and metabolism, toxic buildup, as well as the health state of the lifeforce energies (prāṇa, tejas and ojas) at work in the body. 

Paramount to the Ayurvedic Professional on any level, is assessing and determining patients’ strengths and willingness to follow recommendations when recommending appropriate food choices according to the original constitution, current imbalances, prevailing qualities within the body and mind, the season, digestive strength, age and proper eating behaviours. Appropriate daily and seasonal and life cycle routines will be recommended to the patient. Professionals who are able to recommend and educate patients about at-home preventive and promotive measures and positive conduct measures to willing participants will see a greater success rate.

Recommending appropriate use of the sense organs also fall within the Scope of Practice for Councillors, Practitioners and Doctors, though Professionals will refer patients to an Āyurveda Yoga Therapist for further assessment and possible treatment-related to Āyurvedic Yoga therapies – if this is in the best interest of the patient. Professionals are able to educate patients on the general scope and value of Āyurvedic Yoga Therapies, and also the value of practising yoga for promotion of health and disease prevention. 

Like Ayurvedic Doctors and Ayurvedic Practitioners, the Ayurvedic Health Counsellor (AHC) is proficient at recommending pacification therapies to balance the system and eliminate toxins and recommend tonification for the body and mind.

Furthermore, Health Counsellors are versed in the application of appropriate recommendations for children over the age of 5 and can recommend a plan to pacify the imbalances that affect the digestive system in any life stage.

While AHC’s can administer, combine, provide, compound, and dispense herbal medicines, minerals, or other natural substances, herbs are to be used for internal or external use for the purpose of balancing digestive strength and metabolism, and eliminating toxins while supporting the body’s elimination processes and protecting and building immunity and vitality only.

Recommending Panchakarma (The Five Cleansing Techniques) or post-Panchakarma rejuvenation is beyond the scope of the Ayurvedic Health Councillor, though they can recommend basic diet and lifestyle guidelines for prenatal and postnatal women.

Ayurvedic Health Councillors, Practitioners and Doctors will all refer patients to a Jyotiṣi (vedic astrologer) for assessment and education on general scope and value of Jyotiṣa (vedic astrology), a Vāstu practitioner (vedic architect) to educate patients on general scope and value of Vāstu (vedic architecture), or to a Western medical doctor for assessment and possible treatment as needed, based on a general understanding of the scopes of practice of various western medical disciplines. They do not need to be fully versed in all of these complimentary arts themselves, though all categories should have a general idea of how yoga therapies, Jyotiṣa and Vāstu could potentially benefit their patients. Practising these requires separate certifications.

The AHC is able to create and collect case studies to contribute to research on health promotions and disease prevention. 

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At the Yoga Veda Institute, our Vision and Mission is to make Ayurvedic education accessible to anyone, regardless of financial ability. You do not need to limit yourself or your scope of practice to your current budget. Talk to us.

What is the difference between an Ayurvedic Health Counselor and an Ayurvedic Practitioner?

The category of Ayurvedic Health Councillor represents an entire field of Ayurvedic professionals versed and educated to serve the community in the area of prevention and health promotion with a focus on diet and lifestyle. 

Ayurvedic Practitioners represent the category of Ayurvedic professional that also practice prevention and health promotion through the focus on diet and lifestyle, but with full understanding and clinical training in disease pathology, as seen through the Ayurvedic model. 

The Ayurvedic Doctor has more specialized training in Ayurvedic medicine and overview training in western allopathic medicine. These Professionals have the skills and knowledge to provide an integrative medical approach to their patients. *The use of the term “doctor” may be limited by individual state licensure regulations.

SOURCE: https://cdn.ymaws.com/ayurvedanama.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/3_official_documents/nama_sop_doc_updated_08-08-1.pdf