Here are some common questions that people have regarding aromatherapy, essential oils, myself, and my practice. 

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the skillful use of pure essential oils with a specific goal in mind. This goal lies within the context of an overall holistic picture: to restore balance, harmonize, and enhance the well-being of the individual. Here are three additional definitions:

  • “Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.” National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy
  • “Aromatherapy refers to the inhalation and topical application of true, authentic essential oils from aromatic plants to restore or enhance health, beauty and well-being.” Alliance of International Aromatherapists
  • “Aromatherapy uses the volatile aromatic plant essences, known as essential oils, to treat ill-health and help maintain good health.”  International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists
What are essential oils?

Essential oils come from aromatic plant material such as: bark, roots, rinds, leaves, buds, seeds, flowers, and needles. They are extracted from plants by either steam distillation or expression (cold pressing). Each essential oil has its own special make up based on its chemical constituents, therapeutic properties, and aroma profile.

Do you sell essential oils?

For several reasons, I do not sell essential oils. I am not affiliated with any particular company, and I do not receive kickbacks or financial reimbursements for essential oils.

I do have my preferred list of vendors that I work with and trust. I am willing to share that information with people that I have established a working relationship with, however, I do not want it to influence your choice for where you purchase your essential oils and aromatherapy products. I encourage you to do your own research to find a company that is the best fit for you. You can find more information about that on my resource page.

Is the aromatherapy profession regulated?

In the United States of America, there is no current regulation of aromatherapy practice and the professional designation of aromatherapist. There is no licensure required to practice as an aromatherapist. The best way to identify if someone is a qualified practitioner is to ask them about their training, review who they have trained with, and any relevant training and experience they may have working in the field. It is a wide field with a variety of ways aromatherapy training is being used. 

A qualified practitioner will most likely be recognized by one of the professional organizations in the USA: Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) and/or the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). If you are in Canada, this would be the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapy (CFA). There is also the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA). As there are different schools of thought regarding this, the qualified practitioner may or may not have taken an exam by the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) to have the recognition of Registered Aromatherapist.

Aromatherapists that are members of the professional aromatherapy organizations must adhere to certain standards of practice, code of ethics, code of conduct, laws, and receive continuing education to maintain certification. 

There are varying levels of formal training from a variety of schools, and each school has a different focus. Someone can call themselves a “certified aromatherapist” with as little as 50 hours of training. On the other end of the spectrum, some qualified clinical aromatherapists have 450 to over 1,000 hours of training. 

Please note that in the USA, professional aromatherapists (or anyone using/selling essential oils for that matter) cannot diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any medical diseases. This would be considered practicing medicine without a license.

In the State of Minnesota, an aromatherapist must follow the Minnesota State Statute Chapter 146A. Complementary and Alternative Health Care Practices law.

Are essential oils regulated?

The quality and purity of essential oils are not regulated in the United States. Therefore, it is important to know and trust who you are purchasing from. Essential oils are regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the sense that they fall under either cosmetic and/or drug labeling guidelines. The advertising claims are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

What do you think about essential oil ingestion or internal use?

I do not practice this method of application with clients. In the USA most qualified aromatherapists will say that there is a time and place to use them appropriately in this way (after a full consultation to review for possible contraindications including medical history, medications, allergies, etc.). My professional and product liability policies do not cover my practice in this regard.

I do not encourage the routine or daily use of essential oils internally. There also are increasing reports of adverse effects. You can find more information about essential oil safety on my resource page.  

Do you provide psychotherapy services?

I do not provide psychotherapy or ongoing counseling services at this time. I may be adding these services in the future, so check in with me. If you have mental health and emotional wellness concerns, we can address those during one-on-one Aromatherapy and Wellness Coaching sessions in the framework of psychoaromatherapy.  

Do you take insurance?

The aromatherapy and wellness coaching services are not covered by insurance. Unfortunately, it is not an eligible expense for HSA or FSA accounts.   

Why don’t you have testimonials on your website?

As a clinical social worker, my profession’s ethical principles and standards discourage individual client testimonials. I also do not solicit endorsements from any licensed professionals or agencies that I have worked with. I rely solely on referrals that are shared within the communities that I serve.   

What is your education?

I graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in 1995 with a focus in Psychology and Art. I went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a college level Health Care Interpreting Certificate for American Sign Language, both in 1999.

In 2003 I completed my Master of Social Work degree, and I became a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in 2008.

I completed my training and took the exam to receive my Specialty Certification in Wellness Coaching in 2016.

I had been using essential oils in a casual manner since first being introduced to them in 1990. My formal aromatherapy education began in 2015 when I completed a two day Aromatherapy Foundations course at a community college. Shortly after, I started an internship with the Certified Clinical Aromatherapist who taught that course. During this internship I completed a 100-hour Foundations Certificate (2016). I followed that with a 350-hour Scholars Clinical Aromatherapy Certificate (2017) to complete my basic training as a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist.

I have continued my aromatherapy training through other continuing education opportunities and certifications (Tisserand Institute, NAHA, NY Institute of Aromatic Studies, etc.). I also maintain my LICSW and my specialty certification in wellness coaching by taking continuing education courses. 

Do you need continuing education?

Clinical Social Work (LICSW) 40 hours of continuing education in the areas of clinical work, ethics, and supervision every two years

Specialty Wellness Coaching Certification 20 hours of continuing education in the areas of wellness, coaching, and physical health and fitness every two years

Clinical Aromatherapy (Certified Clinical Aromatherapist) 20 hours of continuing education hours on an annual basis in the areas of aromatic phytochemistry, anatomy and physiology, therapeutic properties, essential oil monographs, ongoing research and practice implications, etc.

I also must maintain my CPR/AED certification for both the wellness coaching and aromatherapy certifications.

Are you a continuing education provider?

Yes. Shepherd Wellness, LLC is approved by the MN Board of Social Work as a Continuing Education Provider – CEP-1012. However, not all of the classes, workshops, or training that I provide qualifies for CEU credit. 

Are you a board approved supervisor?

I am approved to provide supervision by the MN Board of Social Work. However, this is not currently part of my practice, and I do not currently offer supervision. I do offer consultation, but only in regards to aromatherapy services and how that interfaces with the practice of social work, mental health, and behavioral healthcare.

What are the Code of Ethics, Conduct, Standards of Practice, and State Statutes that you follow?