The who, what, how, and why of aromatherapy

Jan 20, 2023

People fall in love with aromatherapy once they see how essential oils can support a person's health and wellbeing. They fall in love with the aroma of the different oils, then discover there’s an art and science to it all. When one experiences healing with essential oils on a personal level they may be drawn to learning more about this powerful modality, and often seek out aromatherapy schools to teach them to become professional practicing aromatherapists.

But did you know that there is no universal definition of aromatherapy? Did you also know that every country has different levels of training requirements for people wanting to become certified aromatherapists? Luckily for you, the certification we offer here at Essence of Thyme is the Gold Standard and provides you with a quality and depth of education that is recognized by many professional aromatherapy associations around the world.

But let’s back up and first look at what aromatherapy means, and what aromatherapy certification is all about.

What is Aromatherapy?

When you Google what aromatherapy is, you will find various definitions and explanations, but in short it is the use of essential oils and aromatic plant extracts for healing and cosmetic purposes. They are more than just amazing and interesting smells; they are complex chemical compounds that can support physiological and psychological wellness. Most people realize that aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils, but few realize that it also includes the use of carrier oils, CO2 extracts, hydrosols, and various other aromatic extracts. But it’s not just what is used; it is also about how those materials are used, and how they can support people on their journey to wellness.

What does an Aromatherapist do?

Professional aromatherapy training will cover a wide range of topics, including the history of aromatherapy, the methods of production of essential oils, how to use oils safely, botany, chemistry, plant sustainability, human anatomy and physiology, as well as the pathology of disease. They also study different application methods and uses for the oils, as well as product making and formulation. There is also the study of the oils themselves. Generally, most students learn between 40 to 100 different essential oils, so the field of study itself is quite comprehensive and a lot more detailed than people initially think.

Professional aromatherapists are highly skilled in understanding the therapeutic properties of essential oils and how they interact with the body's chemistry. They then use this information to help create a personalized blend based on individual needs and preferences. Once you’ve learned all of this, you can then carve out your aromatherapy career in whatever way you like. There is no blueprint of how to be an aromatherapist or how to set yourself up for success.

An aromatherapy education can open a world of opportunities and provide credibility in the aromatherapy market. At Essence of Thyme, we encourage our students to specialize and create their niche. This can be as specific as working with just one specific condition, such as fibromyalgia, and becoming the sought-after expert in the symptoms related to the condition, or working with a specific demographic with aromatherapy, such as women’s health. Other possibilities include creating your own product range, customized product formulation, teaching, consulting, and lecturing. Ultimately, you become the expert in your field.

Think like an Aromatherapist

On social media, many will have you believe that using essential oils is as simple as using one oil for everything or replacing medication with an oil. You’ve probably seen people say things like, “there’s an oil for that” or “if in doubt, use frankincense.” Both approaches are reductive and demonstrate a lack of understanding of how essential oils truly work and how they interact within the body. An aromatherapist explores the person, and questions them to understand them and their issue more fully. They ask lots of questions before deciding what essential oil to use. When you start to think like an aromatherapist, you start to ask more questions.

Having an aromatherapist’s mindset is key to moving from a casual user of essential oils or an enthusiast to a professional therapist. You don’t jump to oil conclusions; you explore the problem you are facing to understand before you create a solution for your client.

Once your aromatherapy training is over, what’s next?

After completing training, aromatherapists should continue to learn and evolve. They should also get involved in the industry via professional aromatherapy associations. These associations will require you to keep your credentials up to date as part of your membership in reputable organizations, and this means continual professional development. Each association has different requirements and obligations. You can read more about them on their websites, which we've included below. 

Depending on where you live, consider joining these aromatherapy associations:

While there is no requirement to join an association, we believe it is important to be a part of the aromatherapy industry to help it continue to grow and flourish. The educational and networking opportunities offered by each professional aromatherapy association will be an important component of your success. It is important to stay current in this ever-evolving field by attending. Continuing education events, conferences, and keeping up to date with new research will help to keep your knowledge and skills current. And of course, we will continue to support you on your professional aromatherapy journey!

About Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies

Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies offers 300- and 630-hour professional aromatherapy certification programs that help you grow a successful, fulfilling career by specializing and creating your market niche. Professional Level Certification prepares graduates to become aromatherapy consultants, launch product lines or retail businesses, or provide services as an adjunct to existing holistic health specializations. Master Level Certification and electives are ideal for certified aromatherapists seeking higher education or a path to clinical aromatherapy practice.

All Essence of Thyme programs focus on aromatherapy product development and advanced formulation, evidence-based research, spa and business management, international industry regulatory guidelines, and sustainability and conservation of essential oil and carrier oil-bearing plants.

Our comprehensive, evidence-based programs meet or exceed the criteria set forth by 5 international professional aromatherapy associations. Learn more about our aromatherapy certification programs.


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