Erica Cardenas

Healing holistically

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So, where can one look for education and training in holistic care?

The Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA), located in Tempe, is licensed by the state of Arizona and accredited by ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training) as a private college for holistic healthcare careers and continuing education.

One of the many holistic types of degrees offered through SWIHA is their Holistic Healthcare with a Concentration in Massage Therapy degree. To give you an idea on program requirements for such a degree, the program exceeds the 700-hour requirement for massage therapy training in Arizona. Upon completion, students are prepared for an entry-level position or may choose to begin their own practice.

Completed in as little as 11 months full time, or 22 months part time, this 750-hour program includes all of the core competencies required of a classically trained massage therapist, plus additional hours of training in one or two primary specialty areas.

According to the BLS, today’s massage therapist charges an average of $60 for one hour of massage and earns an average annual income of $29,250 providing 15 hours of massage per week; with the top 10 percent earning $66,323 or higher for full-time massage work.

The field of chiropractic also is another career possibility within the naturopathic and holistic fields.

Dr. Lori Contreras, owner of Phoenix Family Wellness, is a doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) who opened her own practice in February of this year.

She describes her passion and love for the field.

“Through my practice, I get to see patients go from a state of health where they were relying on medications and were at the end of their rope … to their bodies performing the way they were meant to perform, and becoming new, healthy individuals [and] no longer need drugs and medications,” says Contreras.

Contreras offers a variety of services through Phoenix Family Wellness, including chiropractic care, nutritional counseling, lifestyle “coaching” and more.

Chiropractic focuses on the relationship between the spinal column and the nervous system. The philosophy behind it is that when someone suffers interference or misalignment in these systems, they become more susceptible to disease.

In general, students complete a four-year bachelor’s degree prior to starting their chiropractic education. Earning a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree typically involves a minimum of 4,200 hours of combined classroom, laboratory and clinical experience, and takes an average of four years to complete.

The majority of chiropractors in the U.S. work in independent practices. According to, average salaries for chiropractors range from $68,791 to $103,218 annually, with the lowest 10 percent earning $52,885 per year, and the top 10 percent making over $117,000 per year.

In general, self-employed chiropractors make a higher income than salaried ones. Geographic location plus the chiropractor’s individual qualities, level of experience and accomplishments also influence earnings.

When it comes to your health and well-being, the 34-year-old Contreras says it’s really all about the approach.

“In our culture, our nanas have that special soup or tea they give us when we’re sick … things passed on from generation to generation,” she says. “It’s really all about keeping that mentality of embracing and using natural approaches to care.”

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