Aromatherapy is quickly gaining popularity in households across America – everyone from the neighbors to Dr Oz are talking about essential oils! So how do you go about selecting a Qualified Aromatherapist to help you navigate how essential oils can be incorporated into your wellness plan?
You may be able to turn to friends and family for a referral of a practitioner they’ve worked with. You may also be starting from scratch. Don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision on who to see, instead take your time to ask questions and do your research. Remember, your Aromatherapist should be someone you can place your trust in to partner with you on your wellness journey. Here are some tips to consider when conducting your search.
How to find a Qualified Aromatherapist
Some communities are fortunate to have a number of Qualified Aromatherapists practicing in the neighborhood. Others may find there’s only one in the area, or the closest practitioner is practicing in the nearest big city. Start by tapping into local resources for referrals:
- Ask your primary care physician.
- Talk to the owners or managers of local health food stores and coops.
- See if your acupuncturist or massage therapist can give you a name or two from their referral lists.
- Peruse the community education calendars for classes taught be a Qualified Aromatherapist.
- Use the following associations’ school directories to see if there is an aromatherapy school in your area. You may even try calling or emailing the instructor to ask if he/she can give you a list of graduates practicing in your area.
You can also reach out to three associations for a directory of members in your neighborhood:
- Alliance of International Aromatherapist – has a short list of members advertising on their online directory so call or email for a complete list of professional members in your area.
- National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy – doesn’t maintain an online directory at this time so call or email for a list of professional members in your area.
- Aromatherapy Registration Council – keeps an online public directory of members who have completed the ARC exam and are formally recognized as Registered Aromatherapists™ by the organization.
What is a Qualified Aromatherapist?
To be recognized as a Qualified Aromatherapist in the United States the practitioner will have received a minimum of 200 hours of formal education from a reputable school or institute. The above three organizations keep a list of schools that meet national education standards if you’re interested in familiarizing yourself with them.
Additionally, a Qualified Aromatherapist will work within his/her scope of practice. If the Aromatherapist is dually certified in both Aromatherapy and a touch modality, such as Reflexology or nursing, topical applications may be on his/her menu of services. Whereas those who are not permitted to touch the body, or are not interested in training in a bodywork modality, will only use inhaled applications of Aromatherapy in his/her menu of services.
Questions to Ask a Qualified Aromatherapist
Now that you have a list or name(s) to call and know what to generally expect about the training and services of a Qualified Aromatherapist here are some questions you may wish to ask:
- Can you tell me a bit about your aromatherapy training, such as where you went to school and how long your program was? The Aromatherapy profession is not immune to get-rich-quick schemes so buyer beware of self-professed “experts” who have no formal education in true aromatherapy.
- Are you a member of one of the aromatherapy associations? One of the standards set by the associations named above is the requirement to receive regular continuing education. In a field like aromatherapy a practicing aromatherapist will want to stay up to date on changes in guidelines and industry best-practices as new research emerges monthly. Attending professional development workshops, classes, and teleconferences is a sign of a well-informed practitioner.
- What services do you offer as an aromatherapist? Generally a service menu of an aromatherapist will include a holistic consultation with the client, an inhaled treatment, a topical treatment if in his/her scope of practice, private education services for those interested in learning more about specific essential oils used in the treatment plan, and a custom blend based on the consultation. Other services may include the marriage of aromatherapy and another holistic modality the practitioner is qualified in such as Reflexology, yoga, hypnotherapy, massage therapy, labor coach or birth doula, and so forth.
- How long have you been practicing? This can be helpful to know what kind of clinical experience the practitioner may have so you can set your expectations. Some practitioners leave the field for a time and return after children are in school, a loved one has recovered, or whatever reason he/she left in the first place has subsided.
- Are you familiar with my condition/goal? You will want your practitioner to be fully aware of your medications and health history as well as have an understanding of how to approach any health conditions or wellness goals you have. Just like medications, essential oils need to be carefully considered for their contraindications, drug interactions, and the ways the body will respond to them before they are added to a treatment plan.
At the Appointment
An initial consult may be as short as a half-hour for a quick goal – such as exploring how to safely use essential oils for a bug repellent spray – or can be an hour or 90 minutes in length for a more comprehensive consult. This may be an exploratory meeting and the practitioner may send you home while he/she researches essential oils for the treatment plan the two of you have laid out. He/she may also be prepared to custom blend immediately following the consult.
What observations did you have about your experience? Did you feel the practitioner understood your health concerns? Did you feel comfortable talking about your health history? As aromatherapy is rarely a one-off therapy you will want to feel comfortable communicating with your aromatherapist each time you meet to discuss your wellness goals.
Depending on the goals that drew you to consulting with an aromatherapist in the first place your treatment plan may include one or more follow-up consults. Be sure to update your practitioner on any changes in medication, lifestyle (new job/school, change in exercise program), as well as report on your experiences with the aromatherapy product(s) you were sent home with.
Your aromatherapist’s obligation is to your overall wellness and may make recommendations and refer you to allied health practitioners so you can reach those goals.