Life On The Job

Natural Therapist  - Peter Sullivan

Peter Sullivan

Description of Job:

A typical day might involve seeing around five patients. The stimulating part of this for me is that no two people are alike, so my job is constantly interesting and challenging.


I was always interested in growing herbs and had a variety in the garden. As I began to read about them, I realised that they had a tremendous capacity to heal people. My 'moment of truth' came when I attended my first 'herbal medicine' lecture. The material appealed to me greatly and struck a chord within; my future career became obvious at that point!



A number of factors helped move me towards the career. I was a part time yoga teacher for many years and this gave me an understanding of people and their health problems. It also made me realise that we must ultimately take responsility for our own well being.

Then, at just the right time, I began a course in herbal medicine and homoeopathy (two major components within naturopathy). This study continued for 7 years. At the end of my studies the naturopaths who had taught me invited me to join their practice; a lucky break indeed for which I am extremely grateful.

Education: I'd say that past teachers would be very surprised in my eventual career. After leaving secondary school I completed a degree in economics at the ANU; a very far cry from naturopathy!

It was only later that I realised what I really wanted to be doing/studying.

The degree did help me though, by giving me well developed study skills that I was later able to use.

Earlier still, secondary school (at Campbell High and Dickson College in Canberra) gave me the opportunity to gain a broad education and the basic knowledge and study skills that have helped me in life.


Training as a naturopath involved studying nutrition, iridology (the analysis of the iris as a dignostic tool), the use of herbs to heal people, the principles and use of homoeopathy in treating people and the study of anatomy and physiology.

As well as this, training is all about understanding and dealing with people; we are after all trying to heal people physically, mentally and emotionally, so we must have a good understanding of what makes people tick.
Eventually, training involved sitting in as other naturopaths conducted consultations and then conducting my own.

Iridology - the study of the Iris in the eye

Overall, this training took 7 years, though much of it was part time.


I came to my current career after a long career in the public service, so in effect this is a change of career.

I was lucky enough to join a naturopathic partnership, so I am really my own boss. My income is derived from the fees I charge my patients for consultations, each of which last around an hour. I have a superannuation plan for my retirement. The outcome of my work is obvious (I hope!) as people get well. Other people are very interested in my career, especially my ex-public service colleagues! Many of them would like to make a move to a more interesting career but weren't in my fortunate position of having something they loved, to move to.

Lymphatic Drainage


We are constantly learning in naturopathy. New herbs come into use, science uncovers new information about health, as practitioners we learn more about people (and about ourselves) and we can learn new tools for use in our practice. For example, I would like to learn about acupuncture for possible future use.



Furore or Future?

High SchoolSecondary

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking
Personal and social capability
Australian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and social capability

Cooperative LearningCooperative Learning Activity



1. In groups of 4 - 5 students, read the following articles: Reading

Pseudosciences are destroying the reputation of Australia's universities

The Conversation

Does the weight of evidence signal the end of homeopathy?

The Conversation

2. Analyse

Analyse the arguments from both articles and answer the question as a group:

 "Is homeopathy here to stay or not? Why?"




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