After introducing you to Penny Price of Penny Price Aromatherapy and Andrea Butje of the Aromahead Institute in the past couple of weeks, my third interview in my series of interviews with professional aromatherapists, is with Liz Fulcher, also known as The Fragrant Muse. You may not recognize Liz’s name as readily as the first two ladies I introduced you too, but Liz Fulcher has a very interesting story to tell about her start into the aromatherapy world! In addition, Liz is a registered aromatherapist here in the United States and the Pennsylvania Director for the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. Enjoy this interview with The Fragrant Muse! 🙂
AN: First of all, thank you Liz for agreeing to take some time out of your busy life to answer a few questions about your aromatherapy career! Through the means of social networking, I have learned a lot about your aromatherapy business and what you do and I wanted to share some of that with my readers 🙂
LF: Thanks so much for inviting me to play here at Aromatherapy Notes! You have a wonderful blog and I’m happy to be included among these wonderful interviews!
AN: Please tell us your interesting “story” of how you got into aromatherapy and where did you gain your aromatherapy knowledge/training?
LF: Aromatherapy entered my life in an unusual way. For 12 years I lived in Rome, Italy where I worked for the United Nations. While in Rome I had two children, and when my second child was born in 1991 he was given an aromatherapy massage just 30 minutes after his birth! The nurse used Chamomile essential oil (A. nobilis) blended in a calendula-infused carrier oil. I had never heard of massaging newborns with aromatics and was fascinated! When I saw the benefit to my infant’s skin and the calming effect the oils produced, I knew there was something remarkable about these botanicals and had to learn more.
Initially self-taught with books and a “lets-see-if-this-oil-works” approach, I practiced (read: experimented) on my family and friends. If you love your peeps, I don’t recommend this method! My formal education began when we moved to the US in 1996, and I took an Aromatherapy Foundation class with The American Institute for Aromatherapy & Herbal Studies in NYC. Hungry for advanced knowledge, I participated in an International Training Program at Purdue University and Rutgers University. I signed up for many many classes on topics as varied as aromachemistry and the pathways of absorption to the intuitive use of essential oils in the bath! Therefore, my education is quite eclectic. I’ve learned from some wonderful teachers like Mynou deMey, Rhiannon Harris, Jane Buckle and Andrea Butje. Last year I took a small, specialized class called ACP Teacher Certification taught by Andrea at Aromahead and I am so excited to now offer a NAHA-approved 235-hour Aromatherapy Certification Program.
Even after 20 years, my passion for essential oils continues to grow. As advancements are continually being made in the aromatherapy industry, I try to take at a class every year to keep my knowledge current.
AN: What led you to the creation of your own aromatherapy business, Liz’s Garden? Tell us a little bit about where you are based and what you offer.
LF: Liz’s Garden Aromatherapy is based in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, a beautiful college town located along the Susquehanna River. When Liz’s Garden was established in 1997, my objective was to provide high quality essential oils to my students when they were difficult to obtain locally. Now, after 14 years and the support of my husband James Fulcher, we’ve grown beyond the local market and in 2010 created our website. We currently offer organic and pesticide-free essential oils, therapeutic blends and carrier oils. My next goal for Liz’s Garden is to have our GC/MS analysis reports available directly on the website and to make a line of blends to support the personal creativity!
AN: Like many aromatherapists, your background is in massage. Today, do you still do as much massage as the work you do with essential oils and teaching?
LF: Actually, I’d say I’m a massage therapist whose background is in aromatherapy! As such, essential oils have been an integral part of my massage practice. Using essential oils on my clients for everything from pain relief to anxiety has been a wonderful learning tool as I experience first-hand the power of essential oils working on the body. However, in the past two years I’ve begun to reduce my massage schedule so I may focus on importing essential oils for Liz’s Garden and teaching through my new school, Aromatic Wisdom Institute of Creative Aromatherapy. Though I still enjoy the experience of giving massage, I can’t do it forever…but I can teach aromatherapy until I’m 100 (fingers crossed)!
AN: What do you enjoy most about teaching aromatherapy?
LF: Sharon, there are few moments more inspiring to me as an educator than when a student’s face lights up as they realize the power – both medicinally and energetically – that is contained in essential oils! I love being a part of the process of awakening the creative aromatherapist in my students. Now you know source of my alter-ego “The Fragrant Muse”!
AN: What qualities do you think an aromatherapist should have in addition to aromatherapy training?
LF: Willingness to get involved! Join NAHA and AIA (or your own country’s top organizations). Work to make the industry credible in all healthcare circles! Attend conferences, network with colleagues in the industry, write articles, teach, do community presentations, do volunteer work and keep on taking classes. The industry is continually growing and evolving and there is so much to discover.
AN: You are a Registered Aromatherapist with the Aromatherapy Registration Council in the United States. Explain what this means in terms of the quality and standard of aromatherapy training that the public should expect from a registered aromatherapist, and why this is important in the United States where registration, and indeed qualifications in the industry, are not mandatory or regulated.
LF: This is a superb question Sharon, and one that deserves a thorough answer. You’re correct, in the United States there is no national or state legislative body that regulates the practice of aromatherapy. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have certifying organizations or educational standards. When a profession is not “licensed”, then its certifying organizations must be self-regulated, and to be credible it must be well run and maintain inexorable standards. In the United States, we have three such organizations:
The Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC)
NAHA was formed in 1990, AIA in 2006. Both are membership-based organizations that are actively involved in promoting and elevating academic standards in aromatherapy education and practice for the profession. Both have stringent curriculum criteria that a school or educator must meet before being approved. NAHA currently has 19 schools that have met their criteria and AIA has two. Having an Aromatherapy Certification Program endorsed by NAHA and/or AIA is a mark of excellence in the United States.
ARC is a little different. It’s a Council that sponsors an examination to measure your knowledge of aromatherapy. The ARC Exam is composed of 250 questions with a testing time of four hours and covers the following: Basic Concepts of Aromatherapy, Scientific Principles, Administration and Professional Issues. Those who pass this exam receive a certificate from the ARC, are listed in their registry and may use the title “Registered Aromatherapist”. Back in 2000, I had little formal training in the practice of aromatherapy, but a boatload of knowledge. Since the exam is open to those who are self-taught or have training outside of the United States, I took the exam as a way to demonstrate my knowledge and give me credibility as a serious aromatherapist by being listed on their registry.
So…back to your questions! One should expect a high standard of knowledge from a RA (Registered Aromatherapist) since the exam is difficult and you can’t pass without having a really good knowledge of essential oils and true aromatherapy practices. However, one should also expect a high level of expertise from an aromatherapist who is a CA (Certified Aromatherapist) with training from a NAHA-approved school. One benefit to being Registered over Certified is that simply saying you are “certified” doesn’t indicate where you received your training, whereas only those who have passed the ARC exam can be Registered. My honest advice? Take a NAHA-Approved program (like mine, for example ?) then take the ARC Exam!
AN: Do you have any other advice for those considering a career in aromatherapy?
LF: Don’t skimp on your education and don’t buy cheap essential oils. You really do get what you pay for in this industry so get the best you can afford.
AN: Finally, where can people go to find out more about Liz’s Garden?
LF: Liz’s Garden website: www.lizsgarden.com
Facebook: Liz’s Garden Aromatherapy http://www.facebook.com/posted.php?id=209306636831#!/pages/Lizs-Garden-Aromatherapy/209306636831
AN: Thank you so much for your time, Liz! It has been great to discover more about your aromatherapy practice and getting to know you better! I am sure we will see more of you in the future! 🙂
More interviews to come with professional aromatherapists soon after a short break!