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"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."
Library at Thebes, inscription over the door
Aromatherapy has enjoyed a growth in popularity in the past couple of decades; however, aromatherapy is an industry with little or no legal governance, making it hard to distinguish between reputable aromatherapists and those who are not.

Aromatherapy is defined as a therapy using the aromas of a plant, that is the therapeutic application of essential oils.  Aromatherapy also has a long association with massage.  But in France aromatherapy is the application and use of essential oils with or without massage and one can be practiced without the other.

Aromatherapy Practice in the United States, France and the United Kingdom

In the United States, there is no required qualification or license to set up as an aromatherapist; in France, aromatherapy is regarded as a branch of medicine and as such is only administered by qualified professionals including doctors and nurses.  In the United Kingdom, aromatherapy is gradually becoming more accepted as a “reputable” therapy and it is now incorporated into health care settings such as hospitals. 

Qualifications of an Aromatherapist in the United States

The Aromatherapy Registration Council in the United States is an independent non-profit organization which keeps a list of registered aromatherapists who have passed a written exam in aromatherapy and is the first step in self regulating the industry.  At present, there are no standards for aromatherapy qualifications for an aromatherapist and courses vary from introductory one day courses and on line courses to more complex diploma courses up to one year or more in length.

Some courses meet the requirements and eligibility to join an aromatherapy organization such as the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) or the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA); whilst not a personal endorsement of an aromatherapist's credentials, it signifies that training qualifications are somewhat higher than those that don't meet the criteria of an organization such as this. 

An Aromatherapy Consultation

A suitably qualified aromatherapist will have a good knowledge of the anatomy of the human body and the physiology of the body.  This gives an aromatherapist the ability to assess a person's difficulties and relate them to a suitable essential oil.  There is usually a 20 – 30 minute consultation prior to an aromatherapy treatment to establish a client's symptoms and difficulties and in order to recommend a suitable blend of essential oils for a treatment.  Essential oils can be administered in a number of ways such as massage, bath oils and inhalation.

Insurance for Aromatherapy Practice

An aromatherapist who has completed a suitable training course will qualify for liability insurance for their aromatherapy practice, safeguarding both themselves and a client in case of any legal action.  An aromatherapist who is covered by insurance promotes confidence in both their ability to practice aromatherapy and to deal with any incidences which may result from an accident.

Building up an Aromatherapy Practice

The best way of finding a good aromatherapist is by recommendation.  Personal experience of an aromatherapist is the highest qualification for any aromatherapist but may take both time and experience to build up.  Word of mouth is the slowest but most effective form of advertising for an aromatherapist.

A good aromatherapist will carry out a comprehensive consultation with a client, recommend a course of home treatment to follow after the consultation and maintain follow up with a client after an initial session.  Aromatherapy is more than just a massage, it is a knowledge of the complexity and understanding of essential oils and how to apply this knowledge in relation to the body's needs.

Alternative Aromatherapy Careers

In addition to the normal practice of treatments and aromatherapy consultation, an aromatherapist may pursue a career as an aromatherapy writer, an aromatherapy educator, or set up an aromatherapy retail business of products and services.  It is also possible to combine aromatherapy with a number of other complimentary therapies such as reflexology and massage.


Price, Shirley 2000 Aromatherapy Workbook UK: Thorsons
Price, Shirley, Price, Len 2002 2nd Edition Aromatherapy for Health Professionals UK: Churchill Livingstone

This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as How to Find a Good Aromatherapist

It is expressively prohibited to copy or use this article in any way unless written permission is given by the author Sharon Falsetto.  If it is discovered that copyright laws have not been complied with, legal action will be pursued by the author Sharon Falsetto.

CopyrightSharonFalsetto2010 All Rights Reserved
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