For most people, the perception of aromatherapy is that it revolves around the use of natural essential oils in massages and baths. But there’s a more healing and remedial side to aromatherapy, which specifically targets health complaints, both internal and external.
Therapeutic aromatherapy practitioner Reneé Lee explains that while aromatherapy is a treatment that uses essential oils, diluted in carrier oils, and applied to the body either as massages, creams or baths to bring about a relaxing and healing effect on the body – it’s therapeutic aromatherapy that treats a person for a specific complaint on a therapeutic level and helps the body to be balanced so that it can heal itself.
Therapeutic aromatherapy practitioners blend oils, based on a specific problem that their clients have like skin problems, digestive difficulty and infertility. The specific blend targets a specific part of the body and can target external or internal problems.
The blend happens after a client consultation and is implemented through an extended treatment plan that takes place over several weeks. Oils are chosen and specifically blended for the client’s needs.
One of the main pros for Reneé is working with people hands-on. “You’re providing a customised treatment to a client as opposed to a general treatment, and working with that person is really refreshing. There are so many facets to therapeutic aromatherapy and different application methods, so it doesn’t become boring.” For Reneé, seeing results with people who have not been able to find results with other treatments is very satisfying.
A disadvantage, however, is that as an emerging alternative medicine there’s still a limited scope of practice. “The public are often still uninformed as to what it involves and are reluctant to use it.” Another con is that imported oils are still very expensive and some clients can’t afford them.
You would need to study a course that is recognised by the Allied Health and Professions Council of South Africa and registered with the Department of Education and Council for Higher Education.
The two year course – in therapeutic aromatherapy – will give you insight into aromatherapy in the first year and allow you to specialise in therapeutic aromatherapy in the second. No specific subjects are needed in Matric, but Biology and Science would be beneficial.
To be a successful therapeutic aromatherapy practitioner, you need to have an outgoing and caring nature. You’d also have to be a people’s person and be willing to have close contact with your clients.
“You work with people in close proximity so you’d need to be a people’s person. You must also have a passion for health and wellness. You need to assist your client to take their health and wellbeing seriously.”
Therapeutic aromatherapy offers a flexible schedule but this would largely depend on where in the industry you find yourself. “There are many employment opportunities. You could become your own boss or you could work at a medical facility with other professionals or in a clinical environment.”
While salaries are based on hourly rates, beginners could charge around R200 to R250 per hour; working in an organisation, you could expect a start-up salary of around R5500 to R6000.
As a young girl Reneé had a keen interest in the healing power of plants, holistic therapy and traditional medicine. She initially wanted to be a doctor but along the line she discovered the power of therapeutic aromatherapy and is happy to have found her love for medicine in an alternative practice.
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