Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils used in conjunction with massage or through inhalation to improve physical and emotional well-being. However the history of aromatherapy isn't as clear cut. Some say that it dates back to ancient Egyptian times where aromatic woods, herbs and spices were burnt in honour of their gods. Others believe that the Chinese used medicinal oils before this time. But whatever the history it is clear that the roots of aromatherapy date back thousands of years.
Aromatherapy as it is known today was developed in France during the 1920s. René Maurice Gattefossé, a man who spent his time researching the healing powers of essential oils, accidentally set his arm on fire and the nearest cold liquid he could find to plunge his arm into was a vat of lavender oil that he had been working with. He was amazed to find that the burns healed very quickly, with almost no scarring and less pain. His work continued and today in France, aromatherapy is used as part of tradition medical care. In the UK, it took longer for aromatherapy to be recognised as a complementary therapy and was introduced in the late 1960s.
Complementary therapies have become increasingly popular over the past decade and are recognised as being a good relaxation aid and that this can aid the healing process for a number of people. However, studies are still being done into the effects aromatherapy can have on more serious conditions. Aromatherapists treat the whole person rather than just the condition, based on a person's medical history, general health and lifestyle. They then decide on the best oils to use to treat the condition.
Example areas of study
Most of the courses as HE level are foundation degrees of a similar nature. Therefore the modules are generally common between them. However, there are 2 undergraduate degrees in aromatherapy; one is at Anglia Ruskin University and the other at the University of Greenwich. A general idea of the modules that you may study is listed below, but it is best to check with the institution before applying.
- Complementary approaches to health
- Anatomy and physiology
- Therapeutic counselling and communications
- Interpersonal skills
- Health and safety
- Diet and lifestyle
- Professional practice
- Body energetics
- Health promotion
- Introduction to homeopathy
- Eastern philosophies
- Research methods
- Clinical massage
- Basic chemistry
- Therapeutic uses of touch
- Clinical aromatherapy
- Practice management
- The Bowen technique
- Contemporary issues in complementary medicine
- The influence of Mind-Body therapies on health
- Therapies for cancer and palliative care
- Back flower remedies
- Baby massage
- Stress management
Some career possibilities
Most of those who undertake a course in aromatherapy do so in order to become an aromatherapist. Qualified aromatherapists must be registered with The Aromatherapy Council, in order to practice. You may wish to pursue your career in a private practice or set up your own business, but you may also seen employment within the NHS or specialist clinics. There is currently an increasing demand for complementary therapy practitioners.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for the degree courses is aromatherapy are naturally higher than those required for the foundation degrees so you will need to check which grades and qualifications you need with the institutions themselves. The list below will give you a general idea:
- UCAS Tariff: 40-160 points
- A-level: D-CC usually including a science-based subject
- SQA Highers: CCC
- SQA Advanced Highers: D-CC usually including a science-based subject
- BTEC National Diploma: relevant subject
- NVQ: level 3 in a caring or beauty therapy subject
- Professional Qualifications: CIBTEC, CIDESCO or VTCT
For your application or interview, the following may be useful:
An understanding of aromatherapy and the skills you need to practice are invaluable.
Further information can be found at The Aromatherapy Council , The Aromatherapy and Allied Practitioners Association and The International Federation of Aromatherapists.
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
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