My latest interview in my series of interviews with professional aromatherapists is with the president of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), Kelly Holland Azzaro, RA, CCAP, CBFP, LMT. Kelly is not only the president of the NAHA but a passionate advocate and educator for aromatherapy for our four legged friends! She owns Ashi Aromatics Inc., located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. If your dog, cat or horse are your best friend, Kelly is probably the person you should be consulting with regard to their aromatic health! To learn more about what inspired Kelly to pursue this particular path into aromatherapy, read on…
AN: First of all, thank you Kelly for agreeing to take some time out of your busy life to answer a few questions about your aromatherapy career and in particular about your passion for aromatherapy with the use of animals!
KHA: Thank you Sharon, I appreciate you allowing me to part of your wonderful blog interview series.
AN: Please tell us a little bit about your initial aromatherapy training and what prompted you to pursue a career in aromatherapy.
KHA: I’ve been using essential oils, flower essences, botanicals, and homeopathics since I was in high school. My first exposure to an essential oil was with sandalwood and I was hooked. I wanted to know everything and anything I could about the oil in that little magic bottle. I read whatever books I could get my hands on at the time. From there I began to make my own natural ‘skin food’ products at home with food items and fruits. At the same time I also began to cook and make my dog’s food using only natural ingredients. I used only homeopathic remedies, flower essences and essential oils to care for any of the pet’s basic needs and minor wound care.
An injury introduced me to chiropractic care and natural modalities, which in turn led me down the path to becoming a chiropractic assistant. From there I went onto professional massage school, followed by aromatherapy and flower essence training. My professional aromatherapy education and training came through educational studies and courses with Joy Watson, Sylla Sheppard Hanger, LMT, Jane Buckle, RN, Ph.D. and Dr. Bruce Berkowsky, as well as many other aromatherapy educators via attending events and seminars. I also have additional training and over two year’s tutorial studies of the Bach Flower Remedies via the Certified Bach Flower Practitioner program. I continued my educational studies with programs in canine and equine acupressure/massage therapy and animal communication. My lifetime- learning path also included a year of formal acupuncture college education, which was put on hold after marrying my best friend and acupuncturist, Marco and relocating to the Blue Ridge Mountains to start our Holistic Healing Center. Together we make a great team and our passion is Acupuncture and Aromatherapy.
AN: What (or who) inspired you to specifically focus on using aromatherapy with animals?
KHA: Even as a young child I could be found in the woods, climbing trees, and collecting leaves and rocks, all while talking with nature and animals. My intuitive side and love for animals was nurtured by both of my parents. My Dad (who grew up with a love for dogs and horses) would assist me in helping to bury dead animals found on the road that had transcended. After many tears of sadness felt for each animal, I would do a blessing over the animal’s grave area and always felt the need to place an object from nature, such as a leaf or rock, by the animal’s side. Now I teach and share with others how to do the same and include essential oils for anointing a beloved pet that has transcended. I am grateful to have parents that allowed me to tap into that connection for helping the animal’s spirit move on. Till this day, we don’t know where my little ritual came from…but …without any hesitation they knew, if Kelly sees an animal on the road, be prepared to stop and help.
My love for animals and the unconditional love that they give to us is where most of my inspiration with working with animals with essential oils, flower essences and botanicals has come from. Inspiration has also arrived by way of a traumatic ordeal we went through, when our two horses, Sandy and Taz (picture above), were stolen and safely recovered. One of the many tools we used to help us cope were the aromas of the essential oils, lots of inhalation. We also used the oils to help with the reconnection process with the horses. The healing process that took place was life-changing and from that aspect I decided to really move forward on sharing more of this information with others and offer more classes to those with a similar passion for animals and aromatherapy. Teaching animal aromatherapy and working with students is also a continued source of inspiration.
AN: Tell us a little bit about where you are located and what services you offer to animals (and humans)
KHA: My husband and I have a holistic healing center in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. We offer acupuncture, aromatherapy, flower essences therapy, massage therapies, Qigong and Reiki and educational classes and workshops. I also teach additional online classes in animal aromatherapy and flower essences for pets. I created an all natural cruelty-free vegan line of aromatherapy botanical products for both people and their animal friends. I also work with clients to create blends and flower essence remedies based on their and their pet’s needs. We supply several horse and animal farms, veterinarians and groomers with our animal aromatherapy/flower essence blends and aromatic animal first aid kits.
AN: What type of problems do animals seem to respond to best with aromatherapy?
KHA: Emotional issues in particular seem to respond well to the aromas. Certain scents seem to help calm fear-based issues, which include separation anxiety and fear of loud noises. I’ve worked with Lavender, Sweet Orange and Melissa for the above with both anxious dogs and horses and have had much success in empowering the caregiver to have a tool to work with to help their animal friend.
Physical issues seem to respond well to acupressure massage and energy therapies such as Reiki and Qigong. Essential oils work nicely with these types of therapies and with aromatherapy blends to help with muscle aches and pains and arthritic stiffness, again, another tool for holistic healing is available. Horses with hoof pain or abscesses can also benefit from Epsom salt soaks with essential oils that have analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
AN: In addition to your own aromatherapy business, you are president of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). Why is an organization such as this important to the practice of aromatherapy in the United States?
KHA: To me, NAHA is important on so many levels. I can recall the day that I was ‘turned on’ to NAHA. It was by one of my teachers, Sylla Sheppard Hanger. I was so excited and wanted to join right away! I was ecstatic to learn that there was an actual aromatherapy organization that I could be a part of and continue my aromatherapy education and connect with others. I still smile when I recall that memory and always hope that there are other budding aromatherapists out there that feel the same way when they find out about NAHA. Now a days I find myself doing exactly the same by ‘turning on’ my students to NAHA. It is a great feeling to be able to pass that information along to others.
The NAHA website itself offers a wealth of information to the general public on many different topics including: what is aromatherapy and most importantly the safe use of essential oils. NAHA also has an online feedback form that allows the public and members to submit questions that our Safety Chair and Regional Directors and Members will contribute to the responses. This is a service that is beneficial to the general public and in turn helps to educate others about true aromatherapy and the many benefits the essential oils provide when used safely and wisely. The online Membership Directory is available on the website to search for a professional aromatherapist in a specific area. It is always great to hear that people are searching for a professional aromatherapist in their area to go to for a service, ask to give a lecture at their event, teach a class or purchase products from.
NAHA Approved Schools and Educators offer a wide variety of classes in aromatherapy, as well as approved curriculum for the Level 1 and Level 2 professional level education requirements for those seeking to learn about professional aromatherapy. For the membership, NAHA offers many membership benefits, including membership discount program, professional and student insurance options, monthly educational tele-conferences, subscription to the NAHA monthly e-newsletter and the Aromatherapy e-journal and also our new e-booklets aromatherapy awareness series. There is also an online Members Group area where members can post questions and participate in aromatherapy topic areas.
All these tools that NAHA offers, in turn, helps to support the public and the membership by empowering through education and sharing about true aromatherapy.
AN: What qualities do you think an aromatherapist should have in addition to aromatherapy training?
- KHA: Passion
- Plant awareness
- Research is good too 🙂
AN: Do you have any other advice for those considering a career in aromatherapy?
KHA: Welcome-you are on an exciting and adventurous journey 🙂
Besides the above three qualities 🙂 Some other things to consider when considering a career in aromatherapy:
What type of aromatherapy you would want to study and how will you incorporate your essential oil education into an actual profession. Do you want to offer aromatherapy massage through your professional massage licensure or are you seeking to help others in a hospice or hospital type setting…. Do you love animals and want to know how to use essential oils safely with your pets or work at a veterinarian clinic or volunteer at a rescue center. Will you be opening a store front where you will offer the aromatherapy blends that you create, or will you be specializing in custom blending for natural perfumes etc.
All things considered, it is useful to write down what you want to accomplish and what tools you will need to succeed. Research the different aromatherapy schools/programs and find one that meets your needs (type of curriculum, scheduled time involved, fees, required reading materials and what type of support is available to assist you in the learning process). Check with other students and graduates about their school experience.
Once you graduate, there are many things to consider when starting a new business/profession. Basic questions to consider: will you need professional or product liability insurance, which company/s will you purchase your essential oils and aromatherapy products from, which bottle color will work with your product labels, do you need a website and how do you market your services and products. Keep an aromatherapy notebook to journal your aromatic journey from start to finish, after all, one day you may have the desire to share and educate others 🙂
AN: Finally, where can people go to learn more about your aromatherapy business?
KHA: Website: Ashi Therapy
Blog: Flower Power Blog
Facebook: Ashi Therapy Ashi Aromatics Inc.
Thank you once again Kelly! Now I know where to come for all of my aromatherapy needs for my dog! 🙂