Scopes of Practice

Council has determined seven scopes of practice for osteopaths

(1) Scope of Practice: Osteopath

(2) Scope of Practice: Western Medical Acupuncture (WMA) and Related Needling Techniques

(3) Scope of Practice:Gerontology

(4) Scope of Practice: Pain Management

(5) Scope of Practice: Special Purpose

(6) Scope of Practice: Trainee Osteopath

(7) Scope of Practice: Visiting Osteopathic Presenter / Educator

Please click on each scope to see details.

Section 8 of the HPCA Act requires that health practitioners must not practise outside their scope of practice.

Extended Scopes of Practice

The purpose of an extended scope of practice is to permit holders of the general osteopathic scope of practice to extend their clinical skills. The Council wishes to make explicit that the prescribed qualification for the general osteopathic scope of practice is not adequate to ensure competent practice and protect the health and safety of the public for areas of practice where an extended scope has been developed.

 Philosophy and Principles of Osteopathic Treatment

The Council endorses the following philosophy and principles of osteopathic treatment:

The body is a unit.

  • Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
  • The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms.
  • The body has the inherent capacity to defend itself and repair itself.
  • When normal adaptability is disrupted, or when environmental changes overcome the body's capacity for self-maintenance, disease may ensue.
  • Movement of body fluids is essential to the maintenance of health.
  • The nerves play a crucial part in controlling the fluids of the body.
  • There are somatic components to disease that are not only manifestations of disease but also are factors that contribute to maintenance of the diseased state.

Implicit in these philosophies is the belief that osteopathic intervention has a positive influence on the above.

Osteopathic Scope of Practice

Registered osteopaths are primary healthcare practitioners who facilitate healing through osteopathic assessment, clinical differential diagnosis and treatment of dysfunctions of the whole person. Osteopaths use various, recognised techniques to work with the body's ability to heal itself, thereby promoting health and wellbeing. These osteopathic manipulative techniques are taught in the core curriculum of accredited courses in osteopathy. The ultimate responsibility for recognition of practice lies with the Osteopathic Council of New Zealand.

Restricted Activities

The Council decided, initially, to recommend to the Ministry of Health that only registered health practitioners who are working within their scope of practise can do high velocity, low amplitude manipulative techniques to spinal joints.

It was later considered, that the restricted activity should cover the entire spine, and not just the neck portion.



  • Consultation Documents

    Please click here to read the current consultation documents on fees and overseas qualified osteopaths.

  • Regional Conferences

    The dates for the 2016 regional conferences have been set so please make a note on your calendar. Registration form and agenda available here.

    Auckland - 28th May 

    Christchurch - 27th August

    Wellington - 26th


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