Aromatherapy Organizations and Schools

It's happy time, as the organizations and schools and ARC (see lengthy article at the bottom of the page) are riding the crest of the AT craze. None of them fund research, they all promote 'certification' or 'diplomas' that have no real credibility, and they all, basically, promote practicing medicine without a license.

2003 update -- I will make an exception for the one organization promoting AT safety:
International Aromatherapists and Tutors Association (IATA).

These are the organizations doing more harm than good for the aromatherapists:

NAHA -- National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists (U.S. -based) They're big, they're unresponsive (check archives on the idma list (see Lists and Newsgroup page to subscribe)), they don't fund research, and they stifle dissention within the group, but, heck they like to party once a year.  The illogical statement on my AT homepage is from Jade Shutes, the current President of NAHA.* Last year their keynote speaker was Dr. Bryan Lawrence, who worked for 25 years for Reynolds Tobacco, formulating essential oils to make cigarettes tastier and more addictive. Sure, he's a world renown expert on essential oils, but ethical complications don't seem to bother NAHA, an organization supposedly devoted to health.  Most of the Schools in the US are listed with them. Please also see my page on schools for caveats.
*Update: Jade Shutes resigned a few week ago. Click here to read her resignation letter, followed by a lengthy and rather incoherent letter from Mynou De Mey, who wishes to become the new NAHA president, commenting, complete with incorrect quotes, from this webpage. 2004 Update: Ms. De Mey resigned from NAHA, and signed a petition against said organization (see below).

Controversy continues to haunt NAHA. Many members have expressed their displeasure with what appears to be the acceptance by Jade Shutes, in the name of NAHA, of the controversial Raindrop Therapy (RDT) as practiced by Gary Young and the members of his Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) group that sells Young Living Oils.  To view the White Paper on RDT that has been submitted to NAHA by members who oppose RDT, please click here.

2004 update: to read more about a movement to open an investigation about the alleged mismanagement of NAHA, please visit:

IFA -- International Federation of Aromatherapists (U.K. - based) Their 'research' page contains a few paragraphs about how nice research is, and how some universities are undertaking it, but is obvious in its lack of mention of their own spearheading or funding of research. Instead, most of the page touts their courses. The IFA's founding members are some of the best known authors of the AT fairy tale books, outstanding in their lack of proper references, science, or anything other an anecdotal notes.

Note: Spring 2002.  The ISPA merged with RQA for form IFPA. I can't keep track of all this, but if you want to read about  the machinations and fallout, which  are still reverberating in the aromatherapy industry, please check  Martin Watt's site.

ARC -- Aromatherapy Registration Council (U.S. -based) Quote from a contributor to this website: "this little self-appointed group dedicated to getting aromatherapists 'certified' to practice (ahem, what, medicine?) in the US is run by a few key diehards plus a cast of bit players that changes so often that they never manage to list the current board members out in public on their 'informational' website."

The  ARC Opposition Statement website, hosted by Susan Renkel, was launched in 2000 in response to a flame war raging on the internet  regarding certification. That website has expired, but click here for the original opposition statement.   The ARC has held at least one nationwide testing.
Read the opposition statement, then visit the ARC website.

UPDATE: there have been five or six nationwide testings, with approximately 100 successful test takers. The question on everyone's mind, but stubbornly unanswered by ARC: how many took the test? Is it too hard? Is it too easy? Is it just right?  And in the scheme of things, is it relevant, and how does it help the profession? One candidate who passed is a Gary Young devotee, who uses the unsafe Rain Drop Therapy and teaches courses in how to be an aromatherapy cult member. ARC can't figure out what to do with him, despite many pleas from industry representatives to recind his ARC 'certification'. ARC has no ethics committe in place, so the 'Doctor' continues to flaunt his ARC registration while teaching unsafe use of EOs.

July 2003 update: a member of idma wrote to the  National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) about a possible conflict of interest re: ARC. To read the letter and NCCA's response, please click here.

From a post to the idma list at the time of the controversy in 2000, read below. The debate has raged again every year since, and the complaints and questions remain the same. Actually, a new one surfaced in 2003 when ARC wouldn't release the pass/fail ratio, unlike other professions.

FROM A POSTER ON THE IDMA LIST: (NOTE to Mynou, the uncomprehending: I DID NOT WRITE THIS, one of your 'buddies" did:)

The ARC has not dealt with how they'll benefit North American
aromatherapists yet - or North American Aromatherapy
Associations, though I do suspect there might be some
connection with the latter - something that we've missed.

I don't like dumping on folks when I think they're doing their best to
do what they think is right - I'll give loyal support to folks who I see
trying to improve any situation.  And though it's a bit idealistic, I
wish we could have peace and harmony and mutual goals in this cottage

But I don't see continuance of the ARC's program as being
one where folks think they're right - I see it as arrogance and that's
insulting to all of us.  Actions taken by few that have the potential to
harm many verge on totalitarianism and that rubs me wrong!  I think
that's the base complaint most have and it's the forge upon which strong
opposition is being tempered.

Proper planning includes addressing the many issues that are certain to
become barriers along the path to success, and the ability to explain
the decision making process when challenged.  In decision making, there
are always a list of problems to deal with and these problems create
options.  Sometimes, we'll run across a problem that we can't fix, so we
must choose the best available option and accept the remaining problem
as a downside that must be acknowledged - not whitewashed.

We must be willing to admit that the unsolved problem remains - we
must be willing to ask the grassroots for suggestions on solving
the problem, we have to recruit them and make them feel as if
 they're a part of the effort.  This is a first lesson in
Leadership 101 and it helps to build the necessary
credibility to sell your program.  But off-the-wall knee-jerk planning
is always insufficient to gain support and credibility.   We have some
far-out characters in the aromatherapy industry, but we don't have many
fools or folks who buy hogwash because it's presented by a committee.
I'm fairly sure that with the exception of those Young Living dealers
who are still mesmerized by the hype they're being fed, most folks in
the AT field have inquiring minds.

How can one expect to sell something when they can't explain the benefit
of what they're trying to sell?  Could I sell an EO if I couldn't show a
customer a benefit to the purchase and a credible reason why they should
part with their money?  If I tell them they're trouble making by asking
me questions and refuse to provide believable answers to the questions,
I'm not gonna win their hearts and minds and I'm not gonna make a sale.

It's mighty damned presumptuous to keep running with a program that has
no grassroots support - and it's mighty insulting to ignore the concerns
of the grassroots.  Finally, it's totally insane to not try to sell the
grassroots if you believe you are right!  I'm hearing peeing and moaning
from some of the ARC folks and their alter egos, but they're spinning
their wheels and destroying their credibility with such tactics - what
we really want are answers - we ask them to sell us if they have a good
plan.  And the folks asking are not the only ones concerned - there's a
helluva big silent majority out there who are willing to sit back and
allow others to do battle.  They're not wrong to do this because it will
do no good to have forty eleven people groaning about the same issues.
If the ARC ignores the concerns of the grassroots, they're just peeing
against the wind!  It might make you feel cool for a while, but you're
still gonna stink!

Now, I'm at a point where I'm gonna try to figure out the motives for
the ARC's hard-core insistence on continuing with this poorly planned
program.  I make no allegations now but I didn't get off a cabbage truck
yesterday - there are some vested interests that haven't been made clear
yet - all the cards are not on the table!  Is it financial gain?  Is it
a drive for power or a need for an ego boost for certain individuals?
Are some members of the committee being duped due to blind loyalty or
are they going along with a program they know is flawed because they're
in too deep to get out now?

 Why would someone as intelligent as Mynou DeMey
stick her neck in a noose by acting as the spokesperson for a group that
didn't give her the proper ammunition to do her job?  Is this program
designed to help the aromatherapy community or just a few members of
that community?  What gain could the aromatherapy schools possibly get
from such a program?  Seems to me that with the competition twixt those
schools, there would be no gain - and I don't wanna hear no crap about
those schools operating in harmony - that would insult my intelligence!

If I were on the ARC Committee now, I'd make it tough for those who are
determined to evade discussion of the program.  I'd force them to deal
with the issues or I'd resign and openly expose the entire operation as
being bovine excrement.  Folks on that committee either have to play to
the audience or play to an empty music hall.  Also, they have to sleep
at night and they have to look at themselves in the mirror once or twice
each day.  It's too easy to loose credibility and trust but not so easy
to regain it.  Personally, I'm very disappointed with folks who lack the
courage to support and defend their convictions!

It should be pretty obvious who has the monkey on their shoulder now -
that monkey named Responsibility.  It's not up to the opposition to put
down the ARC plans - it's up to the ARC to sell ideas and neutralize the
opposition.  The ARC cannot be successful with this program without the
support of the AT community.  When I hear it said that the AT community
is larger than this list I chuckle because that is hogwash!

Granted, all practitioners of AT are not on this and the other AT lists, but the
folks that have influence are on these lists and if the ARC doesn't buy
this, it's another of their big planning mistakes.  They might be able
to sell their program to new folks who take their courses but they will
never be able to overcome organized opposition to their efforts and that
opposition will always be an axe hanging over their heads.

My final advice to the ARC Committee members is that they get smart now!
That means start to question your program and seriously take a look at
the questions that the so-called opposition has posed.  If after doing
this, you think you're doing the right thing - then stand up and support
and defend the ARC - don't run away as Mynou De Mey did.  If you are smart and still think you are right, you'll find some good answers and be able to
sell the ideas of the ARC.

Note: July 2003 Mynou DeMey's increasingly shrill and hysterial personal attacks against those who posted on idma about ARC were so nonending and manic that finally someone had to step in and tell her to quit the list. The debate still goes on, but in a much more rational manner. Ms. DeMey was not the spokesperson for ARC, but seemed to appoint herself as it's voice in public, a very damaging move to ARC in many's opinion.