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Natural Awakenings Healthy Living Magazine

Compassionate Callings: Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education

Interest in alternative medicine and natural approaches to health have been on the rise in recent years, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, investment in personal well-being seems to be a top priority for many people, which is good news for anyone searching for a rewarding career that helps others to live their best lives. At NITE, the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education, knowledge and passion meet in a well-organized curriculum that spearheads diverse modalities in three programs: Natural Health, Therapeutic Bodywork Practitioner and Holistic Doula.

            The Institute is the brainchild of Dr. Bessheen Baker, a natural health devotee who broke into the field during her teens by studying with herbalists, chiropractors and naturopaths. After accomplishing her own personal career goals, she noticed a deficiency of higher education in natural healing. She opened NITE in 1995 with a vision to provide four years of authentic naturopathic training for all age groups and backgrounds. While each program is offered separately, students also have a chance to pursue the full four-year program, resulting in a certified naturopath diploma and the opportunity to take the American Naturopathic Medical Association national exam. “We always encourage students to take more than one degree at the Institute, but not all at once. It is our mission to provide quality education, not quantity. Students are here to learn, not memorize,” says Chief Operations Officer Julie Wagester.

            The Institute defines the calling of a naturopath as someone that works with clients in a proactive manner, discusses nutrition and environmental factors, and provides guidance in the realm of vitamins and minerals, as well as therapies that might contribute to better health. Most importantly, a naturopath looks at the whole person—body, mind and spirit. For those that wish to complete the four-year natural health program and become a board-certified, traditional naturopathic doctor, the Naturopathic Institute nurtures excellence and boasts a 100 percent passing rate for all students that have taken the national exam over the past 25 years.

            The NITE Therapeutic Bodywork Practitioner program is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and includes Swedish, deep tissue and lymphatic drainage massage, pressure point therapy, myofascial release, reflexology, craniosacral therapy, ethics and business. Unlike most other bodywork programs, the Institute offers classes in advanced aromatherapy, flower remedies, light healing touch therapy and nutrition. Saturday seminars are offered through the Naturopathic Community Center and are ideal for licensed massage therapists looking for recertification or continuing education at cutting-edge modalities.

            Unlike traditional midwifery, the Naturopathic Institute’s holistic doula program extends into other useful and exciting realms. Wagester explains, “Unlike midwives who assist in delivering newborns, the Holistic Labor Companion program’s focus is on supporting the mother through the pregnancy, birth and early infancy phases. This program is unique to other birth assistant (doula) programs, and includes training in multiple natural health methods and therapies such as nutrition, muscle testing, homeopathy, essential oils and more.”

            Classes at the Naturopathic Institute are offered on weekends only. “Depending on which program you enroll in, you could be here one weekend a month, two weekends a month or even three,” says Wagester. The school does not have dormitory options, but students that travel far have an option to use their housing accommodations. “The cost to stay at the campus (house, apartments or canopy) is $85 per weekend. We provide use of our full kitchens, as well as eggs, bread and butter, so you can prepare your own breakfast. You may also bring other food to prepare your own breakfast, lunch and dinner as you see fit.”

            In uncertain times, a solid education is even more valuable with a community of kindred spirits and collective vision, summed up well in the Institute’s mission statement: “Inspiring radiant health, healing and love throughout our community, the world and beyond.”

The Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education is located at 503 E. Broadway St., in Mount Pleasant. For more info, call 989-773-1714 or visit