Aromatherapy is basically defined as, “the use of fragrances to affect or alter a person’s mood or behavior” and this technique, which actually uses essential plant-derived oils rather than perfume scents, has been shown to enhance not only psychological well being, but also provide physical benefits when properly administered.
Even though there is currently no regulatory licensing or required certification for aromatherapy practitioners, there is an aromatherapy standards organization, The Aromatherapy Registration Council, who offer their own aromatherapist certification as well as educational guidelines and whose goal is to maintain a high level of training and professionalism within the aromatherapist community, can be a valuable membership resource for gaining not only standards-based education but also client credibility.
Another prominent organization is NAHA, The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, a non-profit entity dedicated to enhancing public awareness of the value of safe and skilled use of aromatherapy.
It’s important for anyone wishing to become an aromatherapist not only to learn the proper use of the powerful essential oils used in aromatherapy, but also have education and training in such areas as safety, anatomy, chemistry, practice management, and other elements that may be tangential to aromatherapy itself.
Offering aromatherapy, either by itself or as an adjunct to other holistic health services, will add a new dimension to the scope of your services in assisting others to achieve their optimum well-being.
Hands-On or Hands-Off
While the dispensing of the just the aroma or airborne vapors of the essential oils used in aromatherapy is not currently regulated in any state in the U.S., any topical application of those same essential oils will require the therapist to have a professional license for the related therapy, ie; massage therapy. acupuncture, etc.
Depending on the state in which the services are offered, the State Board of licensing for the particular profession should be contacted for more information. Using aromatherapy with or without other therapies will still require comprehensive and diligent study. Many aromatherapy schools offer both distance learning and/or in-class hands-on study covering several levels of aromatherapy coursework. Generally, a good Level 1 aromatherapy coursework should cover these basics:
- Scope and history of aromatherapy
- Essential oil extraction and criteria for usage in modern-day aromatherapy
- Relevant bodily systems: Limbic, Lymphatic, and Integumentary
- Carrier oils
- Aromatic Botany
Further essential oil usage:
- Precautions & Contraindications
- Uses & Applications of oils and hydrosols
- Creating a personalized aromatherapy formulization
- Aromatic chemistry
Generally, the basic level entails 50 hours of individual or class study and is a good foundation for starting an aromatherapy practice or making and selling aromatherapy products, as well as moving on to more advanced levels.
The advanced levels of aromatherapy training usually involve classroom & clinic training that offers further in-depth study of the core aromatherapy elements noted above and adds these:
- Hands-on training with patients
- Internal organ theory and relationship
- Patient case studies
- Client evaluation, treatment program development, and case management/recordkeeping
- Business development, ethics, and legal structure
- Some additional in-class specialties are seasonal aromatherapy, women’s aromatherapy, Stress/burnout specific aromatherapy
As the pace of modern life intensifies and our lifestyle choices increasing “lean towards green”, there’s a growing desire for holistic, natural, and personalized remedies and therapies. The field of aromatherapy can prove to be a great career opportunity to those passionate about helping others towards an optimum life!