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Our guide to aromatherapy courses

Our sense of smell is said to take us back further than any of our other senses. Would you like to know how to harness this powerful way to help yourself and others feel better deliberately?

Aromatherapy is one of the best known complementary therapies around. As with all complementary therapies, it aims to treat the whole person rather than just seeing symptoms. Essential oils are used to help rebalance the body, allowing it to heal.

Often used in massage which brings its own benefits, essential oils are absorbed through the skin and into the lungs as the calming, relaxing or energising scents are breathed in.


What will you learn?

While aromatherapy’s popularity means that many people know that lavender can be very soothing, rosemary can boost concentration and citrus is energising, it’s a powerful treatment and needs to be handled with care. Just a few drops go a long way and you’ll learn about mixing them with base oils to ensure safety.

You might choose a beginners course to help you use these essential oils with loved ones or you might choose to train as an aromatherapist and learn to build a practice as well as everything you need to know.

This can include massage techniques, preparing and choosing the best types of essential oils for each client and recommending self-help (such as aromatherapeutic baths, dabbing a couple of drops on a tissue which can be carried around or put on a pillow to aid sleep) for them between massages. You will also learn about contraindications with certain oils to keep your clients safe (for example, special care is essential for pregnant women and men, women and children with other conditions) and starting and marketing a business.

Just as the essential oils come from nature, you’ll learn to help clients reconnect with their bodies and the healing elements of the world around us. There can be something very soothing about supporting clients in reconnecting with their body and senses (especially smell and touch) in this way.


What can aromatherapy help with?

As so many people find aromatherapy treatments relaxing, it can aid almost everything. For example, common conditions like backache, headaches, IBS and many more are often exacerbated by stress. Anything that can help the body remember how to relax will be of benefit. Regular aromatherapy treatments are said to aid acute and chronic illness and strengthen the immune system.


What next?

Even if you decide not to take the aromatherapy study further in order to work with others, you’ll be able to enhance your own life and those of friends and family by learning the basics. Your know how with some lavender oil (great for sleep and relaxation) could make you a hit with sleep deprived friends and relatives and your recommendation of rosemary oil (helpful for aiding concentration) might help loved ones who are studying stay focused and motivated.

If you take a more advanced course, you’ll learn about setting up a practice. If this is your aim, you might also be interested in taking a business course to help you hit the ground running once you’re a qualified aromatherapist.

Ultimately, you might work privately or for a salon or in complementary health. Some offer such services in busy workplaces and others support cancer survivors. You may choose to work from one location or to set up a mobile service (some enjoy providing aromatherapy at festivals and events).


Is an aromatherapy course right for you?

Do you like smells and touch? If you have a delicate nose, it could be a great advantage but if you’re prone to allergies, you may want to get some other input.

Similarly, if you’re very tactile, you might love to give aromatherapy massages but if you don’t like to touch people, you might just want to learn how to use these special scents more generally (on tissues, fabrics and so on).

Although the essential oils are delicate, the equipment (massage tables and so on) can require a fair deal of physical strength to carry and set up so you may need to have someone who can help you with this side of things.

If you’re at all interested in setting up as an aromatherapist once you qualify, find out if your course is accredited by any of the professional bodies who can support you and who will help you maintain high standards of ethics and practice.


Did you know?

Lots of celebrities are fans of aromatherapy including Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst and Glenn Close.


By Eve Menezes Cunningham

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Course reviews at this provider

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Aromatherapy Level 4 NCFE
Level 4 Aromatherapy Award
by Eileen - July 2013

An extremely enjoyable course that gives you an insight to what aromatherapy is and how this can be beneficial for improving your mood and health. The course was easy to understand and had the benefit of learning about anatomy.

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Awarding organisations

  • International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists
  • The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA) is a body that lists training and education providers who offer professional courses in therapeutic massage, aromatherapy, and bodywork. IFPA recognises these providers in the field if they meet required standards.  The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists encourages and supports research within the field of aromatherapy and ‘is committed to the future regulation of the profession’. As an international organisation, it ensures that its schools located abroad also meet the National Occupational Standards. 

  • Complementary Health Professionals
  • International Federation of Aromatherapists
  • The International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA) is the world’s biggest and oldest professional body that is committed to excellence in aromatherapy. With members and training schools all over the world, it is an international body that strives for progressive new developments in the profession. It has initiated the exploration of using aromatherapy in medical institutions such as hospitals and special care units. It also offers diplomas in professional aromatherapy that meet the Open College Network Standards and the National Occupational Standards. 

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Aromatherapy uses essential aromatic oils (extracted or distilled from herbs, flowers, trees, spices or fruit) to create a range of blends which can used, for example, in massage, for bathing and inhaling. These natural oils have unique healing properties that can either improve their client’s sense of well-being or treat specific medical conditions. Aromatherapists begin a consultation by taking a detailed medical history, followed by further exploration into the client's lifestyle and allergies. The therapist uses this information to select the oils they feel are...more