The IICT Story
By IICT Founder and Chairman (Former CEO), Lawrence Ellyard
Many people have asked me over the years how IICT began, and for the sake of posterity, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you our humble beginnings, how we got to where we are today, and where we are headed.
International Institute for Reiki Training
Like many things, necessity is the mother of all invention, and so it was with IICT. In 1996, I was running the International Institute for Reiki Training. With our ever-growing number of Reiki practitioners ready to practice in the market, I was looking to provide a membership banner for them, as well as access to insurance cover. I also wanted to provide an alternative to the path traditionally offered by membership associations.
Throughout my teaching and speaking engagements in the complementary health industry, I came across the same concerns from practitioners everywhere I went.
These concerns included high membership fees and mandatory continued education requirements. Considering the costs involved with CPD courses and related travel, many felt the continued education requirement was of little value to their practice but felt obliged as they needed to maintain their Association membership.
I decided I wanted to provide our Reiki practitioners with a membership that had all the benefits of a professional body, but without the limitations regularly imposed by Association membership.
I managed to secure an agreement with our insurance broker to provide professional affiliation and insurance for our Reiki practitioners. With everything in place, we announced the option for membership to our graduates.
Soon after we launched the membership, we had Reiki practitioners asking if the insurance could cover them for additional complementary therapies as well.
I took it upon myself to contact our broker and found they were happy to cover these additional therapies.
Word-of-mouth soon spread and we found other complementary therapists, who weren’t necessarily Reiki practitioners, were approaching us.
I came to notice that practitioners who held qualifications across several modalities often had to join several associations and purchase multiple insurance policies to cover each area of their practice. They couldn’t simply combine all their therapies under one umbrella.
This got me thinking, ‘someone should do something about this!’. Then one day I realised, I was that someone. The practitioners were many and there was a definitive market need for an all-encompassing body for the industry. It was time.
International Institute for Complementary Therapists
In 2002, I decided to create a new industry body for all who practised multiple complementary therapies.
The vision to become a professional body for the entire complementary therapy industry was realised and thus, the International Institute for Complementary Therapists (IICT) was born.
In preparation for founding IICT, I carefully compared the codes of practice and ethics of many associations and complementary therapies. From these, I developed our own unique code that not only contained the necessary items for professional practice, but also provided enough flexibility and diversity to accommodate for multiple modalities.
We soon found our niche in providing membership and insurance for practitioners who practised many different complementary therapies.
After much negotiation with our insurance partner, we were able to extract their recognised list of 120 complementary therapy modalities.
As momentum increased, we decided to expand our modality search to include those that were new to our Australian shores.
IICT was the first organisation to take the initiative toward recognising new complementary therapy modalities, whether it was pioneered by a practitioner or imported from another country.
Our membership base increased dramatically once practitioners from new and emerging modalities were able to find professional affiliation and insurance with us.
Some of the modalities we helped get recognised in Australia include The Journey, Reconnective Healing, Heal Your Life, The Mace Energy Method, Theta Healing, Calmbirth, Oneness Blessing, and Wu Tao, to name a few.
Over the years, our list of available modalities grew from 120 to more than 1,100, making IICT proud to provide the largest modality list in the world for professional membership and insurance.
Today, we are acknowledged as the only organisation that actively assists practitioners to have their modality recognised for professional membership and insurance.
As Australia was moving forward at an encouraging pace, I decided it was now time to make the IICT name truly international.
In July of 2008, IICT launched operations in New Zealand. This was our next logical step, as not only are they our closest neighbour, but the variety of modalities practised in New Zealand were similar to those in Australia.
It was during this time we decided to expand our modality list further to include Beauty Therapy and Day Spa therapies.
This meant a great deal of research into the treatments, as well as taking the opportunity to trial quite a few of them myself. After all, there’s got to be some perks of the job!
As we continued to explore new modality areas, I noticed the lack of professional industry representation for the Psychic Arts. As a practice where it was uncommon to derive formal qualifications, I felt there must be away to verify a suitable standard for spiritual healers, clairvoyants, psychics, and the like.
After a great deal of going back and forth with our insurance partner, we were able to create a policy and provide a set of criteria to determine adequate standards for anyone working in Psychic Arts.
Once we expanded our membership offering to include students in training, the stage was set to take our unique system to a wider market.
I was reading Tim Ferris’s book, The 4-Hour Work Week, for the second time when a single sentence from the preface hit me.
“Selling your services to the UK to earn in a stronger currency”
Lightbulb! What if were to expand IICT into the UK market?
It would be a tough market to crack; this was just after the Global Financial Crisis, and I had no contacts or establish business relations in the area. Despite all of this, my mind and heart were convinced I had to ‘give it a go’.
After six months of doors closing in my face and several dead ends with insurance providers, my idea was starting to feel unachievable.
I was about to put this dream on the shelf when I happened across a small insurance team in the UK who provided an extensive modality list similar to ours.
I picked up the phone and made an international call to their office.
As luck would have it, the receptionist was off ill, so the head of the firm picked up the call.
After an hour of conversation and going back and forth from one another’s websites, a decision had been made.
IICT had an official insurance provider and were set to launch in the UK come November of 2011.
United States and Canada
I had always imagined IICT being an international solution for complementary therapists and healers (hence the name), and in 2013 we expanded into the United States and Canadian market.
By this time, IICT was operating in 6 countries, and we were still receiving enquiries from complementary therapists seeking professional affiliation in Europe.
As fortune would have it, in August 2015, we were approached by a large insurance provider in the UK who was able to extend for all our modalities to most of Europe.
IICT professional membership and access to insurance cover is now available in 33 countries across Europe.
20 years on! Where are we now?
Today, IICT has become a symbol of freedom for thousands of complementary therapy practitioners.
Our international reach has continued to expand over the years, and we currently provide membership and access to insurance cover in 35+ countries.
Together with IICT, the complementary health industry is undergoing a quiet revolution. Many complementary therapists who have previously operated within the confines of traditional Association membership are choosing IICT for professional affiliation, as we provide a broader and more flexible atmosphere for their practice.
Almost every week I hear from at least one of our new members expressing how happy they are to have found IICT. It brings me great comfort to be of service in this way; to know I have created an organisation that is meeting a growing need and gaining increasing traction as a viable and credible option for complementary therapists.
We now have over 10,000 members from 35+ countries, who practise over 1,100 complementary therapy modalities. As our membership base grows, so too does our community.
We are an online community, but more importantly, it is offline where our members implement their healing talents to help and impact others’ lives. I’m pleased to be, in some small way, part of this collective journey.
Thank you for reading our story. As an IICT Member, you are a vital part of it.