Portrayal of holistic therapist in Casualty on 4 July, 2015

This FHT Statement, released on 14 July, 2015, relates to an episode of Casualty, entitled ‘Heart over Head’ (episode 38, series 29) which was first shown on BBC One on 4 July, 2015.

FHT Statement

We have received complaints from members over the portrayal of holistic therapists in a recent episode of Casualty on BBC One. The episode includes a storyline following an older
gentleman who relies on the service and support of a holistic therapist for ‘healing’ treatments, including the provision of plant extracts, and a variety of visualisation, energy and mindfulness techniques.

As the story progresses, the therapist is shown prominently as the reason the patient’s stomach ulcers have gone untreated and in fact worsened; he is depicted as unqualified, unscrupulous, and an impediment to essential medical care, offering nothing but ‘mumbojumbo’, both explicitly by the doctor and also by the general tone of the show.

As a direct result of the programme and the complaints received from members, we have written to the BBC to express our disappointment, at the same time requesting that a
disclaimer is added to the BBC iPlayer version of the programme, highlighting that it represents a single, fictional individual and is not representative of the industry. Our letter
to the BBC is as follows: 

Letter to the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit

We are writing to address with you a recent episode of Casualty, first aired on BBC One on 4 July, 2015. The episode, ‘Heart over Head’ (episode 38 of series 29) depicted an older
gentleman, relying on the services and support of a holistic therapist for ‘medical’ treatment. The therapist is shown prominently as the reason the patient’s stomach ulcers 
www.fht.org.uk have gone untreated and in fact worsened; he is depicted as unqualified, unscrupulous, and an impediment to essential medical care, offering nothing but ‘mumbo-jumbo’, both explicitly by the doctor and also by the general tone of the show.

As the leading professional association within the complementary, holistic, beauty and sport therapy industries, we - the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) - are writing to express our disappointment in the episode and to query its negative depiction of holistic therapists, along with a lack of disclaimers and signposting to bonafide practitioners, even at the credit stage of the programme.

As well as our own concerns, we have received member complaints, with feelings that they have been wrongly represented. Whilst not medical treatments, nor commonly advertised as such, complementary and holistic therapies are often used as a support to conventional medical and health care, helping to relax and improve the general well-being of patients,
working with cancer patients as one example. Benefits of treatment can be anything from a general improved sense of well-being and ‘wellness’, to reduced levels of anxiety and lower
pain levels as a result of muscular relaxation; something not alluded to in a positive light in the programme.

While we appreciate there are some ‘rogue traders’ in any industry, we felt this depiction was unfair and not representative, particularly on such a highly influential and viewed show
as Casualty.

We are very sad that an entire industry has been dismissed by the show and portrayed in such an unprofessional manner. At the FHT, we represent 17,000 therapist members and
also hold an Accredited Register of complementary therapists, which is independently approved by the Professional Standards Authority and provides assurance that those practitioners listed meet the highest of standards and are accountable for their actions.

How we would like you to address the problem:

  • We would like a written response to this letter, which we will then share with our members who have complained, as well as via our standard communication channels for others who have viewed the programme with concern www.fht.org.uk
  • We would like addition of a disclaimer to the BBC iPlayer version of the programme and any other versions of the show highlighting that this storyline depicts a single individual and not an entire industry
  • We would like members of the public to be directed to Accredited Registers if looking for a complementary or holistic therapist (https://www.professionalstandards.org.uk/accredited-registers), to help ensure their health and safety
  • We would like to be added to the database for BBC Researchers to contact us for anything relating to complementary, holistic, beauty and sports therapies, so that we can ensure fair and proper representation of the topic in future. 

In the meantime, we will be advising our members that we have written to the BBC, as well as issuing a statement on our website about the programme.

We appreciate your fair consideration of this topic.

Kind regards

Jennifer Wayte

President, Federation of Holistic Therapists.


Our message to FHT members

As well as submitting a letter to the BBC highlighting our concerns with the programme, we encourage eligible members to always portray the FHT/Accredited Register logo as a mark
of quality, insurance and independent verification, as well as proudly detailing the scope and quality of your qualifications and experience.

To download this logo, log into the Members Area on the FHT website at www.fht.org.uk

Our message to the public

Holistic therapies are beneficial and accessible ways to help create a general feeling of well-being and should be used as a complement to conventional medical and health care, not as
an alternative. Contrary to the depiction by the recent BBC programme, Casualty, holistic therapy has many health and well-being benefits and is increasingly being used to complement medical treatment, including supporting cancer patients as just one example.

What is key is ensuring that you select an independently verified practitioner who is fully qualified and insured and has a proven track record. Suitable providers can be found on the
FHT Complementary Healthcare Therapist Register at www.fht.org.uk/search-register 

*Please note this link may only work for a limited period.
About this Statement

For media enquiries or permissions

Please contact Karen Young, Communications Manager:
023 8062 4376

© Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) 2015. No part of this Statement may be reproduced without the express permission of the FHT. Although the FHT has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the information in this document is accurate, we cannot guarantee that it is free from inaccuracies, errors or omissions. The FHT shall not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising from any information contained in this document.