Aromatherapy Schools

'Schools' keep popping up all the time. The issues of accreditation, course curriculum, teachers' competency, ability to prepare students to be 'aromatherapists'. Anybody, you, me, the guys next door, can hang out a shingle and establish a school of aromatherapy. Most recently, NAHA had, as a matter of endorsement, listed a Canadian School of Aromatherapy. The 'professor' at that school used the NAHA listing to validate her sales pitch to gather students.

Her courses and capricious and some say malicious manner of dealing with the students caused a great deal of contention on the internet. Finally, NAHA removed the name of her school from their list. NAHA stated on its webpage: visit the list of Schools that are in compliance with the current  NAHA Educational Guidelines.  You can also check out the NAHA Standards of Training. Obviously, NAHA, famous for is lack of responsiveness and ability to move at the pace of an injured snail, didn't check out the Canadian Institute, or what they were offering. The damage was already done.

Now, the NAHA folks are taking such a high and lofty road to redemption regarding the Canadian fiasco you would think they somehow had their site hacked into and the Canadian school listed without their knowledge. (just joking, but they are acting so innocent, you might forget for a minute they had a leading researcher in making cigarettes more palatable and addictive as the keynote speaker at their last conference.) So don't think that because a school is listed with an organization that it is in any way a good school.

Some of the folks on this list established their schools up to a decade ago, and have many graduates. Please be aware that no accredited college offers a degree in aromatherapy. Please be aware, that in the U.S., unless you are a massage therapist, licensed medical personnel, or one of a few other disciplines, you are not allowed to touch a person or diagnose. Lots of aromatherapy school teachers and owners diagnose via email, and their ethics seem to be somewhere at the bottom of a vat of poorly-distilled cow dung. Shameful.

These 'schools' are often just mail order mills, internet fronts, and short term (just a few months of 'study') sources of study that are devised by the school owners. These owners never graduated from a school of aromatherapy -- they conceived and developed the ideas of aromatherapy schools. Or, they graduated from their own school! Some are hairdressers, real estate agents, divorced housewives that had no previous employment, soapcrafters who decided to expand... well, you get the idea. Nice folks, for sure, the ones that aren't cons, but seemingly clueless as to the fire with which they are playing.

To quote from a public email to me from Jade Shutes, President of N.A.H.A. and President of the school IDA (posted on the IDMA aromatherapy list June 26, 2000):

" It is NOT illegal to practice aromatherapy, it IS illegal to
diagnose and prescribe."


Well, the most comprehensive listing of AT schools is to be found on the N.A.H.A. site. Jade is the President of N.A.H.A., and the President of a school listed on that page, the IDA. Please read, very carefully, what the schools offer, and be critical of their curriculum. Some obviously offer more comprehensive training than others. The educational standards that N.A.H.A. require are listed on another page on their site. 

Looks good on the surface, and you will probably learn a lot from the courses, especially about oil safety, botanical names and common names, methods of distillation or extraction, properties of the oils, etc. 

But, if you can't diagnose or prescribe (even the nurses taking the courses can't), if your schooling is to further a hobby (let's be realistic) search around for the most comprehensive syllabus, compare prices, and, don't forget, they all use the fairy-tale books. You will now be certified to treat yourself, and your family. If you are a massage therapists, you have to adhere to the laws of your state, and, again, CAN'T make any medical diagnosis.

Just remember, these schools are, for the most part, headed by people with brief (10 years or less) backgrounds in studying AT themselves, most lack BAs, Masters or PhDs, and lots are hairdressers, massage therapists, and New Age practitioners, some of whom dip into 'shamanic' AT, whatever the heck that may be. 

Caveat emptor.