The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has started looking more carefully at websites dealing with health care and health products. For this reason, it’s important for alternative health practitioners to be aware of the FTC guidelines so that they’re not found guilty of making fraudulent claims on their websites or in other information they publish.
The words we choose to convey our message are significant and will make the difference when it comes to being scrutinized by the FTC and other watchdog organizations. In this article, we’ll discuss the best ways to use language, and we’ll suggest some word choices that will help you comply with the guidelines that have recently been established.
A word before we get started: Many states have very specific guidelines that dictate what practitioners of a given healing modalities are allowed to do in their practice or say about their practice. Make sure you check your states specific guidelines as advice we provide here is meant to be quite general.
Some Things to Avoid Based on the FTC Guidelines
Alternative health practitioners need to avoid using language that can be construed as a guarantee. We should emphasize possibilities not absolute promises. This will also help practitioners avoid dealing with unrealistic expectations that can arise in hopeful clients. No healing method is full proof as so much depends on the client. We need to avoid making promises regarding our own services or products no matter how dependable they might seem.
It’s smart to avoid words like “healing, cure, patient, and therapy” that imply formal or traditional medical training. Practitioners can focus on the idea that they are “helping people feel better” rather than claiming they’re “curing conditions.” This extends to listing specific types of conditions, such as migraines, IBS, depression or anxiety. When medical terms of diagnosis are used, it implies that these issues can be solved. To be well within the guidelines, avoid listing specific conditions and focus on the advantages of general well-being instead.
Some Specific Suggestions: Words to Use to Meet FTC Guidelines
Avoid offering any kind of guarantee. Instead of writing that you are helping clients heal, focus on using words and phrases such as “helping you feel better,” or “restoring balance.”
Avoid using absolutes. Instead of claiming that your service or product “will do” something, soften the message by using words like, “may, could, or make it possible to.”
If it’s necessary to use the word “healing,” try putting the word “energy” before “healing” or otherwise qualify the word healing. This will help clarify that you’re not offering a traditional course of action. But it’s still advised to use that phrase sparingly.
Substitute medical terms of diagnosis with words that convey the symptoms. Instead of using “fibromyalgia,” use “discomfort.” Substitute “sadness” for “depression,” and “anxiousness” for “anxiety.” Replace words like “pain and trauma,” with words like “discomfort, suffering, stressful, and difficult.” This type of dialogue has its own advantages. People tend to think in terms of how they feel rather than in medical terms. By describing emotions and physical complaints in this manner, it might be easier for potential clients to better identify their primary issues and prevent them from inaccurate self-diagnoses.
Identify your particular practice, product, or methodology as an “energy healing,” “alternative energy healing,” or “energy balancing” method or modality instead of stating simply that it is a “healing” method.
When trying to express the idea of healing and cures, use words like recover, reduce, improve, restore, balance and resolve instead. Work with the concepts of “enhancing well-being and restoring wellness.”
Unless you hold traditional certificates for specific types of medical training, avoid words like “physician, patient, treatment, therapy, or psychology.” Substitute with words like “practitioner, client, help, session, energy work,” and other feeling words that can describe your services and procedures.
Words of Encouragement
We’re here to help you, as practitioners, find success and achieve your professional and personal goals. In order to move forward and help bring better health to your clients, you need to avoid the pitfalls that could slow you down. It’s a good idea to assume that FTC plans to enforce their guidelines with strict measures, and we want to be sure that you are armed with the information you need to keep your websites within compliance and up-to-date so that our communities can continue to benefit from your hard work, extensive knowledge, and inspired services.