This course was originally written, delivered and trialled as an integrated aspect of the BSc Complementary Medicine and Health Sciences degree Aromatherapy Module at the University of Salford during 2008/09; it’s aim, to provide a legitimate training route that involves the therapeutic application of essential oils via various mediums other than massage – for example, therapeutic perfumes, creams, lotions, inhalers and environmental diffusers, among others.
Massage is an extremely effective vehicle for the delivery of essential oils, however, it is not an appropriate method of application in instances where client therapist contact does not form part of therapeutic treatment – for example, counselling, psychotherapy – or when massage is contra-indicated due to an underlying health condition, or in instances where clients simply do not want to be touched yet would benefit tremendously from the therapeutic values of essential oils.
Course content includes the standard professional aromatherapy training criteria set out by the National Qualification Framework (NQF) but omits massage and emphasises methods of topical self application and appropriate essential oil blending, counselling skills and professional supervision. Content, for example, includes elements such as:
- Botany and botanical plant families
- Methods of essential oil extraction and evaluation (GLC / MS)
- Related organic chemistry
- Profiles of up to 60 essential oils
- Blending and appropriate methods of use and application
- Safe Practice, Health & Safety: contra indications /actions
- Consultation procedures – process and protocol; client therapist interface
- Clinical practice
- Counselling skills
The word aromatherapy immediately, intrinsically, summons an image of someone relaxing on a massage couch being anointed in essential oils by an attentive therapist, the word ‘relaxation’ resonating through the ambiance created in this picture. Indeed, this image is constantly promoted through media advertising or representation of aromatherapy (as well as the image of someone relaxing in a candle lit bath). It is true that massage provides a wonderful vehicle and plays a very significant, valuable role in terms of enhancing the effects of essential oils, promoting wellness and a sense of wellbeing. However, not everyone is comfortable with intimate physical contact.
There are many examples of therapeutic situations where a professional therapist might wish to include the use essential oils, counselling being one example, but not apply massage. As well as promoting relaxation and wellbeing, essential oils can be applied topically for stress and many stress related conditions in the form of ‘therapeutic perfumes’, ointments, lotions, creams, compresses etc. and diffused environmentally to create a specific ambiance or influence mood and emotion. Yet, it remains virtually impossible to gain a professionally recognised qualification in these arts alone without the inclusion of massage, which clearly represents one of many other methods of application.
Essential oils are available to purchase through mail order or in high street shops; the purchaser is not required to have a qualification to use them. However, the user must have a professional qualification and have professional insurance cover to apply essential oils to others in a therapeutic context. The counsellor (or other health professional), for example, who chooses to diffuse essential oils in their treatment room to create a pleasant ambiance does not have to have an aromatherapy qualification to do so because they are not applying the essential oils directly to their client, yet they might be very interested in, and would benefit from, learning and understanding more about the nature and chemical influence essential oils have on, for example, mood and emotion; physical contact in the context of this type of therapeutic process is undesirable. In order to promote the safe and appropriate use of essential oils as a health care commodity it makes sense, therefore, that professional training should be appropriate and appealing to as many health professionals as possible.
Aromatherapy is currently delivered in some universities, but is mainly delivered in the hair and beauty departments of FE Colleges and some private training schools. There are post qualifying courses delivered that adapt to need, for example, in hospices, but these are usually complementary to professional training and do not alone licence the student to deliver essential oils therapeutically. The Essential Oil Therapist Practitioner Course aims to bridge this gap.