Aromatherapist - What do the Levels Mean?

If you have been on Facebook or other social media lately you may have seen people with NAHA (National Associated for Holistic Aromatherapy) badges (like the one below) stating they are a Level 1, Level 2 or even a level 3 member. I have one, you can see it on my website and looks like this:

Anyone can steal it off my website and use it as their own. I wish there was a way to make it so my name was on it from NAHA.

While I don't agree with all NAHA practices, I do agree with vetting members in this way since the aromatherapy industry is unregulated. How do you have some sort of truism or honor in an unregulated industry? This is as close as we are going to get at the moment to verification of legitimate titles. What do these levels mean to you as a consumer?

LEVEL 1 AROMATHERAPIST

According to the NAHA website, a level 1 member is as follows:

"The Level 1 hour requirement applies to existing health professionals such as: Massage Therapists, Estheticians, Herbalists, Nurses, Physicians, etc. Students who are not existing health professionals have an additional requirement to provide proof of completion of Anatomy & Physiology 1 from an accredited institution, or the equivalent class taken from a NAHA approved school. Anatomy & Physiology Level 1 is a 3-4 credit undergraduate class which typically covers: Tissue & The Integumentary System; Skeleton, Joints & The Skeletal System; Muscle, Muscle Tissue & The Muscular System; Nervous Tissue & The Central Nervous System, The Peripheral Nervous System, The Autonomic Nervous System; The Endocrine System; Cellular Structure & Types, Basic Chemistry. Many universities and colleges offer this course in classroom and on line."

In order to be a level 1 aromatherapist you must already be one of the following above before you receive your certification. Level 1 is the MINIMUM you need to be an aromatherapist. Their education if they studied with an approved school included the following information:

(Minimum 50 Hours* Curriculum)

• Introduction to the history of Aromatherapy • Profiles of minimum 20 essential oils • Minimum of 5 case studies • Quality of essential oils • Production and methods of extraction (distillation, cold pressing/expression, enfleurage, absolute, CO2 extraction) • Basic physiological effects of essential oils: methods of absorption, overview of olfaction and the limbic system, the skin, and the immune system • How essential oils interact on physical and emotional levels • Basic essential oil chemistry with contraindications of certain essential oils • How to create/design an effective blend • Diluents such as vegetable oils and other carrier bases • Methods of application (inhalation, diffusion, topical, optional: internal) • Safety issues (including dermal, respiratory, internal) • Legal, ethical, privacy issues (include a copy of the NAHA Code of Ethics)

They also must complete the following:

1.1 Student must complete a minimum of 5 case studies. 1.2 Student must sit for and pass a Level 1 examination offered by the school. 1.3 Graduates must submit proof of completion of 5 NAHA approved continuing education hours (CEs) per year or 10 CEs every 2 years in order to remain a Level 2 member in good standing.

There is no such thing as a level 1 aromatherapist if a person is not already what is stated above. Someone with no prior complementary or alternative medical training does not quality for level 1 status. Lately there has been an influx of people stating they are trained level 1 aromatherapists who have no anatomy or physiology education and only completed a 100 hour program. That is not considered an aromatherapist. You need to understand how essential oils work in the body, level 1 education does not cover that.

LEVEL 2 AROMATHERAPIST

Again, according to the NAHA website, a level 2 member is as follows:

"**150 hours in addition to the required Level 1 hours, for a total minimum of 200. The Level 2 hour requirement applies to existing health professionals such as: Massage Therapists, Herbalists, Nurses, Physicians, etc. Students who are not existing health professionals have an additional requirement to provide proof of completion of Anatomy & Physiology 2 from an accredited institution, or the equivalent class taken from a NAHA approved school. Anatomy & Physiology Level 2 is a 3-4 credit undergraduate class which typically covers: The Reproductive System; The Cardiovascular System; The Lymphatic System & The Immune System; The Urinary System; The Digestive System. Many universities and colleges offer this course in classroom and on line."

In order to be a level 2 aromatherapist you must complete all level 1 requirements PLUS the following:

(Minimum 200 Hours** Curriculum)

• History and Modern Development • Profiles of minimum 40 essential oils • Minimum of 10 case studies • Quality of essential oils • Production and methods of extraction (distillation, cold pressing/expression, enfleurage, absolute, CO2 extraction) • The basics of botany (specifically taxonomy) • Organic chemistry • Properties of essential oils within a holistic and professional framework • Blending techniques • Diluents such as vegetable oils and other carrier bases • Methods of application (inhalation, diffusion, topical, optional: internal) • Safety issues (including dermal, respiratory and internal use) • Consultation and client education program design • The basics of business development • Legal, ethical, privacy issues (include a copy of the NAHA Code of Ethics)

And complete the following:

Required elements for Level 2 student graduation based upon approved standards in aromatherapy education: 2.1 Student must complete a 5-10 page research paper (pertaining to an aromatherapy topic).

2.2 Student must complete a minimum of 5 case studies in addition to the required level 1 case studies for a total minimum of 10.

2.3 Student must study a minimum of 20 essential oil profiles in addition to required Level I essential oils for a total minimum of 40.

2.4 Student must sit for and pass a Level 2 examination offered by the school.

2.5 Graduates must submit proof of completion of 10 NAHA approved continuing education hours (CEs) per year or 20 CEs every 2 years in order to remain a Level 2 member in good standing. Examples of NAHA approved CEs include: NAHA Conference, NAHA Webinars (free for members!), writing articles for the NAHA Journal, electives and continuing education courses taught by a NAHA approved school, volunteer or mentorship time spent in a holistic healing center that utilizes aromatherapy.

2.6 Professional liability insurance is recommended.

As you can see, as the levels go up, the study is much longer and harder.

LEVEL 3 AROMATHERAPIST

At the moment, this is the highest level an aromatherapist can achieve. This is how much study I have done. Well, more actually. I am no longer a member of NAHA but that doesn't mean I didn't earn this level.

Taken from the NAHA website again, a level 3 aromatherapist needs:

***100 hours in addition to the required Level 1 & Level 2 hours, for a total minimum of 300. The Level 3 hour requirement applies to existing clinicians (Physicians, Nurses, Acupuncturists, Medical Herbalists, etc). Students who are not existing clinicians have an additional requirement to provide proof of completion of Advanced Pathophysiology from an accredited institution, or the equivalent class taken from a NAHA approved school. Advanced Pathophysiology is a 4 credit graduate level class which typically advances knowledge of anatomy and physiology while explaining the mechanisms of diseases and pathophysiological conditions affecting the the integumentary system, the circulatory system, the reproductive system, the musculoskeletal system, the lymphatic/immune system, the endocrine system, the nervous system, the urinary system, and the digestive system. Many universities and colleges offer this course in classroom and on line.

They must also complete the following:

(Minimum 300 Hours*** Curriculum)

Level 3 curriculum should prepare health professionals to proficiently practice aromatherapy in clinics that utilize complementary modalities (e.g., holistic healing centers, integrative medicine clinics, private practice).

• Profiles of minimum 50 essential oils • Minimum of 20 case studies • Properties of essential oils within a clinical framework • Safety and toxicology of essential oils (topical and internal) • Safety guidelines for vulnerable populations (infants & children, pregnant women, elderly, those with chronic health conditions) • Client/patient intake or SOAP notes • Scope of practice • Legal, ethical, privacy issues (include a copy of the NAHA Code of Ethics) • As long as the core requirements are met, curriculum may be developed in specific tracks or emphasis chosen by the instructor (e.g., aromatherapy for children, the elderly, women’s health, phyto-aromatherapy, dermatology, acupuncture, animal aromatherapy, compounding of clinical preparations, etc.) Graduates should accurately declare their qualifications in their biographies or resumes, and should avoid acting outside their scope of practice. • Level 3 electives and continuing education classes may cover specific areas of interest chosen by the instructor.

And......

Required elements for Level 3 student graduation:

3.1 Student must complete a minimum of 10 additional case studies in addition to the required level 1 & 2 case studies for a total minimum of 20.

3.2 Student must study a minimum of 10 essential oil profiles in addition to required Level I & 2 essential oils for a total minimum of 50.

3.3 Student must sit for and pass a Level 3 examination offered by the school. 3.4 Graduates must be actively teaching or practicing clinical aromatherapy in order to remain a Level 3 member in good standing.

3.5 Graduates must submit proof of completion of 15 NAHA approved continuing education hours (CEs) per year or 30 CEs every 2 years in order to remain a Level 3 member in good standing. Examples of NAHA approved CEs include: NAHA Conference, NAHA Webinars (free for members!), writing articles for the NAHA Journal, electives and continuing education courses taught by a NAHA approved school, volunteer or mentorship time spent in a holistic healing center that utilizes aromatherapy. 3.6 Graduates must supply proof of professional liability insurance in order to remain a Level 3 member in good standing.

As you an see, to become a true aromatherapist, it is hard work!!!! The reason these standards were put into place was to protect you! If you have read any of my other blogs, you know that there are unethical people out there who are calling themselves titles they did not earn. This is extremely worrisome especially since essential oil injuries are on the rise. You can read some of the reports at Aromatherapy United.

If you see someone with a badge like this and you think they didn't earn it, please report them to NAHA.org. With your help, we can keep aromatherapy genuine and safer.

If you have any comments or questions, please email me at melissa@sweetwillowspirit.com. Have a wonderful day!

Love and light,

Melissa

This information is not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. Since the actual use of this product by others is beyond our control, no expressed or implied guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken. Use at your own discretion. Any application of the recommendations is at the user’s risk. Sweet Willow Spirit, LLC disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this information and assumes no responsibility for any actions taken. This should not be used in place of traditional therapies but solely as a complementary means for bringing well-being. The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of any oil or healing modality.

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The material on this entire website is not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. Since the actual use of this information by others is beyond our control, no expressed or implied guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken. Use at your own discretion. Any application of the recommendations is at the user’s risk. Sweet Willow Spirit, LLC disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this information and assumes no responsibility for any actions taken. This should not be used in place of traditional therapies but solely as a complementary means for bringing well-being.   The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of anything here.