Category Archives: Aromatherapy credentials

Titles, and Credentials, and Consumer Confusion…Oh My!

wizard of oz

A wonderful blog post was written in September about something that has been on the mind of many Aromatherapists regarding the titles that we use. This article was written from a personal standpoint as the author was essentially using the post to inform her clients and others as to her own training.  However the post went viral and the author went on to receive many emails from individuals who wrote to criticize elements of the post and to share their own personal viewpoints.  Others, like me responded to address factual errors regarding educational guidelines and the use of one credential in particular. Much to my disappointment, the post was subsequently removed.

I was happy to see this post as I had written one on the very same subject just two weeks earlier. In my post, I addressed the title of “Clinical Aromatherapist.” Many more people are using this term, but there are two way of looking at this title.  One is that it is a representation of the level of education that an individual possesses.  The other is the environment in which a practitioner works. This begs the question, “should we seek more clarity and ask schools granting the title to provide more clarity to the students for its use?”  For example, a graduate may be “Clinically-trained,” but only after experience in working in a clinical environment should they call themselves a “Clinical “Aromatherapist?”  This brings to mind Rhiannon Lewis’s AIA presentation about “Working at the Coal Face” to mind. It’s theory vs. practice. Are we working in the environment that we are trained to work in or are we teaching, writing articles or acting as consultants?  I never posted my blog article. I shared it with a colleague who asked the question “what if I am clinically-trained, not working in a clinical environment and training nurses to use Aromatherapy in a clinical environment?”  Good question.

While there is no regulatory body that oversees the practice or Aromatherapists, there are general guidelines that we learn about in school with which we must adhere to; the Medical Practices Act and massage laws within each state in the U.S., as well observing the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the industry associations we belong to. There are similar considerations in other countries as well. However due to the lack of government regulation, aromatherapy organizations have taken it upon themselves to set standards and guidelines for their members to support and follow in an effort to “self-regulate.” In the early days of the AIA I remember being a part a discussion in which there was a collective desire to review, evaluate and revise such standards and guidelines. The goal was to have the membership accept and support the educational guidelines and standards, and to promote the organization as a leader in the aromatic community. Our secret hope was that by providing these guidelines and a group of professionals working in support, if the U.S. government officials were ever to come knocking, the AIA and its practitioner members would certainly pass any scrutiny, be a model for other groups, and work in tandem with the government. I also recall discussions regarding how far the AIA could and was willing to go.  The AIA is not a “regulatory” body.

So how does this relate back to the topic of “titles” and “credentials” in Aromatherapy? For some time there appeared to be essentially two categories of Aromatherapists; hobbyists that possessed a basic level one (foundation) education and qualified Aromatherapist who possessed a certification (200 hour professional course).  The AIA, with a focus on “moving aromatherapy forward” into more integrative and clinical settings discussed the need for a higher level of learning to accommodate safe and responsible essential oil use in these settings, hence revising the guidelines for Levels 1 and 2, as well as creating the clinical Aromatherapy education guidelines. In doing so, there appears to be an increase in the number of “clinical” Aromatherapists, or is there?

In looking at the “recognized ” or “approved” standards of the aromatherapy education organizations in the U.S., there exists various of levels of education, however the content of that education and how it is evaluated varies between organizations.  For example, one organization considers level one to be a 30 hr course whereas another sets the standard at 100 hr. There is also some misinformation circulating with regard to how the AIAs education guidelines were established and what is contained in those guidelines (which is the subject of another article to come). So with the differences in the guidelines between organizations, not to mention that there are several schools out there that are not on the recognized or approved lists of either organization, there are several social media threads suggesting that possessing a certification is somehow no longer of value.

While there is no government regulatory body overseeing aromatherapy practitioners, I think practitioners can agree that possessing an education in safe and responsible use is of great importance. What seems to be at the heart of these recent discussions are the titles and credentials that practitioners are using to give an impression of their overall education level. One might think that would have been cleared up with the establishment of levels of education (Foundation, Professional, Clinical). In looking back to when I first started in Aromatherapy, if you went to school (200 hr) and earned a certification you became a Certified Aromatherapist (CA). Anything less and you could receive a “certificate of attendance.” If you elected to do so, you went on to take the ARC Exam to become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA). In addition, some schools had their own credential upon graduation, such as the Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner (CCAP) awarded to graduates of Jane Buckle’s program for healthcare providers. Other schools that applied and met the AIA would have guidelines for clinical level training offered their students the title of “Clinical Aromatherapist.” For me, my school said I could call myself a Clinical Aromatologist as I was trained in various methods of internal use, however it seems that term never really took off. Nowadays there are people calling themselves “Medical Aromatherapist” or a “Certified Clinical Master Aromatherapist” among others.  Some of the titles are created by the schools that offer training and others are created, as some may say, as a marketing ploy to impress upon potential clients that they possess a greater knowledge than perhaps another practitioner.  Regardless of where these terms have come from what they have effectively done is to create consumer confusion and animosity among peers in the aromatic community.

The explosion of this topic has been debated on social media for many months with a common question of who should be responsible for clearing up this mess? The schools?  The Aromatherapy organizations? One trade organization considered taking up this cause as well, but instead has put this back on practitioners to take up with the Aromatherapy organizations they belong to.

So what do you think? Should the aromatherapy organizations (in collaboration) create the titles we use, the qualifications for each, and trademark them for use in their respective countries? In an effort to have all Aromatherapists on the same page, should there be a larger, perhaps global, council that provides the gold standard for education guidelines, Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, and guidelines for the use of titles and credentials to provide a unified front in Aromatherapy and protection for consumers?  I invite your comments below?

Lora Cantele is a Registered Clinical Aromatherapist through the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) and a Certified Swiss Reflex Therapy (SRT) practitioner and instructor through its creator, Shirley Price.  Her work as former president of Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) has helped the organization flourish to become a leading voice in advancing an ethical practice of aromatherapy for personal as well as clinical use.  During her tenure at the AIA (2006-2012) she successfully lead the development and implementation of AIA’s aromatherapy educational standards to take the level of aromatherapy education in the USA to new heights.  In 2009 and 2010, she brought her professional expertise to a pilot program aimed at providing a better quality of life to children with life-limiting illnesses including; hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.  As an aromatherapy educator, writer, and international speaker Ms. Cantele continues to unite and inspire her colleagues to speak out about the importance of this work within an integrative health and wellness program. She is the editor/publisher of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA) and the co-author of The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness. Contact: lora.cantele@gmail.com Websites: www.ijpha.com and www.enhancedgifts.com

10 Essential Steps to Become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA)

*This article was written by Dorene Petersen and first appeared on the ACHS Health and Wellness Blog here: http://info.achs.edu/blog/10-essential-steps-to-become-a-registered-aromatherapist-ra

dorene-petersen_largeOne of the most frequently asked questions I hear from America College of Healthcare Sciences students, graduates, and aroma-enthusiasts is: How do I become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA)?

As you may already know, an RA is an aromatherapist who has successfully demonstrated a core body of aromatherapy knowledge by passing the Aromatherapy Registration Council’s (ARC) Examination. The ARC RA Examination’s primary focus is the safe administration of essential oils and covers topics such as scientific principles, administration, and professional issues in aromatherapy. It is also available in a number of languages, including English, Japanese, and Korean. In mid-2015, it will be available in Chinese.

Once you have successfully passed the ARC RA Examination, you are added to the online international database of ARC Registered Aromatherapists. The RA registration (which is valid for five years) confirms your high standard of aromatherapy education and demonstrates a commitment to the ethical, safe use and administration of essential oils when working with the public.

An additional perk: the ARC will also verify your registration status at the request of employers, government agencies, and anyone who needs to verify your professional qualifications.

But how do you become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA)? Here are 10 essential steps to take to become a Registered Aromatherapist:

Step 1 – Ask Yourself: Am I Qualified to take the ARC Exam?

The very first step before applying for any credential is to ask one simple question: do I meet the qualifications? All students, including international students, can sit for the ARC RA Examination if they:

  • Complete a minimum of 200 hours in a Level II or III aromatherapy program that is in compliance with the current National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) or Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) Educational Guidelines or provide evidence of equivalent training (be sure you include your transcripts and/or syllabi in your application). If you are not sure that your school’s curriculum is covered in the “core body of knowledge,” download the ARC’s Candidate Handbook. You can also encourage your school or aromatherapy training institute to submit final examination questions confidentially to Professional Testing Corporation (PTC) who oversee the exam administration and management.
  • Agree to adhere to the full Disciplinary Policy
  • Complete and file the Application for ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy
  • Pay the required fees

Step 2 – Check the Upcoming Application and Examination Dates

Next, you’ll want to make sure you’ve marked the upcoming Application Deadlines and Examination dates on your calendar. The ARC has these dates listed on their website here: http://aromatherapycouncil.org/?page_id=86, and I have also posted a graphic with the upcoming dates below:

ARC Application Deadlines

Step 3 – Download the Candidate Handbook

The Candidate Handbook is a must-have resource when preparing for the ARC Exam. You can download your copy from the PTC’s website here.

The Candidate Handbook will help you understand:

  • The ARC’s mission
  • How to apply to take the Exam
  • How the Exam is scored
  • How you will receive your results
  • The content of the Exam
  • Instructions for re-taking the Exam
  • Fees and refunds
  • How to schedule your Exam appointment
  • Plus it will give you examples of Exam questions!

Step 4 – Study and Prepare for the Exam

Once you’ve reviewed the Candidate Handbook, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect on the Examination. From there, you can continue to study the relevant course materials you’ve saved from your Level II or III aromatherapy program. You can also check out the recommended reading on page 10 of the Candidate Handbook.

The ARC Examination is a computer or a paper-and-pencil examination (with a score of 70% or higher to pass) composed of a maximum of 250 multiple choice questions with a total testing time of four hours. Need some practice questions? Don’t forget to utilize the sample questions in the Candidate Handbook.

The content of the Exam will be weighted approximately based on the following topics:

I. Basic Concepts of Aromatherapy…………………………. 20%

II. Scientific Principles……………………………………………. 30%

III. Administration ………………………………………………….. 35%

IV. Professional Issues ……………………………………………. 15%

As an educator, I know studying takes a lot of time and energy. Don’t forget to maintain your health and wellness while preparing for the Exam:

  • Take a 10 minute break for every hour of study time
  • Reward yourself for a good study session
  • Diffuse your favorite invigorating essential oils in your study space (I love rosemaryRosmarinus officinalis (L.) and bergamot Citrus aurantium (L.) var. bergamia)
  • Maintain balanced, holistic nutrition
  • Drink plenty of water—hydration is good for the brain!

Step 5 – Fill Out Your Application and Pay Required Fees

There are three documents you’ll need to complete your application (the Application and Consent form can be found in your Candidate Handbook):

  1. ARC Disciplinary Policy (you must agree to this policy on your application)
  2. Application for ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy, mark the language you prefer, English, Japanese, or Korean (the Japanese and Korean exams are only paper-and-pencil based)
  3. Candidate Consent Form

Reminder: Don’t forget to include your transcripts and/or syllabi from your Level II or Level III aromatherapy program.

The application fee for the exam is $325. You have a few options when paying your exam fee. You can:

  1. Pay by check or money order: Make payable to: PROFESSIONAL TESTING CORPORATION and include in your application packet.
  1. Pay by card: Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are also accepted, and you can complete the Credit Card Payment section on the Application.

DO NOT send cash—be sure to pay through one of the two options listed above.

Step 6 – Send In Your Application

Once you’ve completed your application, it’s time to send it in. Complete your application online or mail your application to PTC at this address:

Professional Testing Corporation
1350 Broadway, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10018

The next ARC application deadline is March 1, 2015, so it’s time to begin gathering your materials and preparing for the Examination (as I mentioned above, the upcoming dates can be found here: http://aromatherapycouncil.org/?page_id=86).

Step 7 – Sit for Your Exam

Now it’s time to take your exam! Once you’ve submitted your application, PTC will contact you within six weeks with an Eligibility Notice.

The Eligibility Notice will tell you how to schedule your examination appointment, and it will also remind you of the available exam dates. The ARC Examination is offered during an established two-week testing period, Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays. You may have different instructions if you are taking the paper-based exam in Japanese or Korean, so be sure to read your Eligibility Notice carefully.

Remember: Exam appointment times are first-come, first-served, so schedule your appointment as soon as you receive your Eligibility Notice. This will increase your chances of being able to take the exam at your preferred location and time. To find a testing center near you, visit www.ptcny.com/cbt/sites.htm or call PSI Exams Online at (800) 733-9267.

Once you’ve scheduled your appointment, PSI will send you a confirmation email with the date, time, and location of your exam. Be sure to review this information carefully, and contact PSI immediately if you notice any errors.

Remember to plan accordingly on the day of your exam: The exam is proctored and you are not permitted to leave the room (even for a toilet break!), so be prepared. You are not permitted to take any paper, books, or iPhones into the examination room.

Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before, drink lots of water, eat a nutritious breakfast, and allow for adequate travel time so you arrive at your examination center on time and ready to succeed! Don’t try to “study crunch” the night before. If you’ve taken the time to study in the weeks leading up to the exam, you’re already set up for success.

Step 8 – Receive Your Exam Grades and Registry Notification

Once you have completed your exam it will be sent to PTC for grading. If you’ve successfully passed the exam, PTC will notify the ARC that you are successful candidate (congratulations!). The ARC will then prepare a Registration Certificate and update the Register. This process can take four to six weeks.

If you’ve passed the Exam, your test results and your Registration packet will be mailed to you. As a successful registrant, make sure to email the ARC to confirm any details you would like listed on the Register. The ARC will automatically list your name and address, but you can also request to have your website, phone number, and email included on your listing.

You can find the current listing of Registered Aromatherapists (RA) here:http://aromatherapycouncil.org/?page_id=88. Remember, as a Registered Aromatherapist, you are responsible for ensuring your information on the Register is accurate and up-to-date. If your information changes you will find the form to submit updates here http://www.ptcny.net/clients/ARC/RA/Member/DisplayRA.aspx

As I mentioned above, one perk of passing the Examination and becoming an RA is that the ARC will verify your registration status at the request of employers, government agencies, the public, or anyone with whom you wish to share your new credential.

The ARC will only release your RA status, the date your registration was awarded, and any disciplinary actions taken by the ARC.

Step 9 – Utilize Your New RA Credential!

Now that you are a Registered Aromatherapist (RA), you have many options for putting your new credential into action. As an RA, you can…

  • Teach clients how to achieve and sustain good health on a daily basis by incorporating essential oils into their life, and share other natural modalities to supplement their healthy lifestyle if you have the training.
  • Empower clients to achieve improved health through addressing any imbalances caused by a lack of quality sleep, adequate pure water, exercise, fresh air, and relaxation.
  • Help clients to evaluate their lifestyle choices to identify and change any potential causes of ill health and create a wellness plan.

But remember, unless you have previous qualifications and training as a Registered Aromatherapist (RA), you are not a licensed physician. You must be vigilant and aware of the current legislation in your state on the practice of aromatherapy.

Here are a few basic things that an RA cannot do:

  • Diagnose disease. An aromatherapist will always refer clients back to their primary care physicians for a diagnosis if necessary.
  • Treat disease. An aromatherapist’s focus is on health and education, not on disease.
  • Prescribe drugs or pharmaceuticals. Aromatherapists teach clients about essential oils.
  • Perform invasive procedures. Depending on training and licensing, a natural health practitioner may use hands-on techniques, like reflexology.
  • Practice unsafe administration techniques such as Raindrop Therapy or Raindrop Technique.

Step 10 – Maintain Your Credential with Continuing Education

Now that you have your RA credential, it’s important to meet the continuing education requirements. Here are a few things to remember in order to maintain eligibility as a Registered Aromatherapist (RA):

  • Registration is recognized for a maximum period of five years.
  • To maintain Registration, you must be in compliance with the ARC Disciplinary Policy.
  • You must also be in compliance with other ARC standards, policies, and procedures.

After five years, you can…

  • Either retake and pass the then-current Registration Examination or meet continuing education requirements (see information below).
  • All RAs are responsible for maintaining continuing education records used for the Application.
  • Complete the renewal form.
  • List all continuing education activities.
  • Pay the $325 renewal fee.
  • Download your Reregistration Application here:http://www.ptcny.com/clients/ARC/#Reregistration%20Information

To remain eligible for RA registration with continuing education requirements, remember that:

  • 100 contact hours are equal to 100 actual continuing education hours.
  • Hours must be provided by any approved educational body or organization, or by a NAHA- or AIA-approved school or educator.
  • Training in Raindrop Therapy or Raindrop Technique does not count as this is not approved as a safe administration method by ARC.

Here are some options for completing your continuing education requirement. All events must be related to aromatherapy:

  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Professional development offerings
  • Online or on-campus courses
  • State or national conferences
  • The preparation and presentation of a professional education topic relevant to aromatherapy
  • An original article written by the candidate and published in a professional journal such as the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA)

arc_logo

Aromatherapists have been taking the Registration Examination since its inception, and the number of Registered Aromatherapists (RA) continues to grow, even spreading across the globe. There are RAs in China, France, Hong Kong, Singapore Japan, Korea, and the United States.

At the American College, students from all over the world have successfully completed their ACHS aromatherapy program and passed the ARC Examination and received the “RA” distinction. In fact, ACHS Aromatherapy graduates have a 100% success rate over five-years (2009-2013).

There are tremendous benefits to becoming a Registered Aromatherapist (RA). This credential helps reinforce a standard of excellence and safety in the profession of aromatherapy, and I am encouraged that more and more aromatherapists join the registry each year.

This post first appeared on the blog of the American College of Healthcare Sciences on January 29, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

Dorene Petersen is the Founder, President, CEO, and Principal of the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS). She has over 35 years clinical teaching and lecturing experience in aromatherapy and other holistic health subjects. She has presented papers on essential oils and clinical aromatherapy at the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades Annual Conference (IFEAT) in California, USA; the Aroma Environment Association of Japan (AEAJ) in Tokyo, Japan; the Asian Aroma Ingredients Congress (AAIC) and Expo in Bali, Indonesia; the International Center of Advanced Aromatherapy (ICAA) at the WonGwang Digital University in Seoul, Korea; as well as the AAIC Expo in Kunming, Yunnan, China. Dorene currently serves as Chair of the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC), and she is also active with the Distance Education Training Council (DETC). Dorene is a travel junkie, and she hopes you will join her for the ACHS Study Abroad Program in Indonesia and India in 2015!