How I prepared for the ARC Exam

I am writing this blog because I have received several emails and messages from colleagues asking how I prepared to sit for the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) exam.  Many well qualified and educated aromatherapists have expressed anxiety and fear about taking the ARC exam, which I understand because I remember well my own anxiety about taking it.

The first step was familiarizing myself with the eligibility requirements to take the exam.  The link above will take you to the ARC page that clearly outlines those requirements.  It is important to download the Candidate Handbook.   The Candidate Handbook is full of useful information and it also provides you with a few sample test questions.  The handbook also clearly outlines the content of the exam, i.e. what you can expect to be tested on, and more importantly the content you will need to study prior to the exam.

After completing the necessary paperwork I realized I was truly committed to the process, and I began my studies in earnest.  I prepared for the ARC exam in the same manner I prepared to take the exam to become a Licensed Psychotherapist. I began my study regimen approximately four months before the date of the exam.  To some people four months may seem like a long time and to others it may appear to be too short a time to study.  The amount of time you dedicate to preparation is a completely individual decision based on your own confidence, study style, and ability to set time aside each day to study.

I began my studies by reviewing ALL of the educational materials I had from my aromatherapy program.  I started at the very beginning.  I read through the material with an eye on the exam content list, taking note of where I found information on each item.  Reading through all the educational materials I had was a positive exercise because I found that although it had been months since I studied it I knew more of the material than I had originally thought.  As I read through the educational material I also made flashcards.  Yes, flashcards.  I hated flashcards as a child, but they did their work, I remembered my times tables!  So, as I slowly read through all of my notes and aromatherapy program materials I made flashcards on the information I wasn’t certain I knew 100% hands-down.  The information on each card was short and succinct, not too wordy, but containing important key words to prompt my memory. These flashcards became my constant companions.  I took them with me everywhere.  If I was a passenger in the car I had my flashcards, if I was sitting in a waiting room I had my flashcards, if I had a few minutes to myself I had my flashcards.  I also dedicated three, thirty minute study sessions with the cards every day.  My husband helped me study by reading the flashcard question and having me respond.  So as not to get too comfortable with the order of the questions I would shuffle the flashcards like a deck of playing cards.  As time progressed the number of flashcards I studied began to dwindle until the day of the exam, when I had twelve chemistry related flashcards.  Yeah, chemistry.

If flashcards are not your thing, or they don’t suit your learning style, try an audio format.  A friend of mine, who is an audio learner, opted to record herself stating the same information I would have put onto a flashcard.  With an audio format she was able to review while she was driving, an advantage over flashcards.  If you are really ambitious you could use both formats.

Let me back up to the issue of those chemistry flashcards.  Chemistry and I were not, and are not great friends.  I struggle with chemistry, so the flashcards were not quite getting me to a comfort level I believed I needed.  The solution was to write, repeatedly, the information I was struggling with retaining.  Being a visual and kinesthetic learner, writing the information several times helped me to focus and remember it better.

During focused study sessions I would occasionally diffuse sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) essential oil. I know people will ask, “Why not rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or peppermint (Mentha piperita)?”  Well, the reason I chose sandalwood is because it is an essential oil that calms and centers me, which, due to test anxiety, was what I needed and what worked for me. Choose an essential oil that helps you feel comfortable, centered, focused while you study because it may help you more than a stimulating essential oil.

Studying before bedtime was not a good choice, it created more anxiety.  I found myself ruminating about the information I wasn’t getting and I would end up getting out of bed to study.  Sleep is your friend when you are preparing for any big event and I wasn’t getting good, restful, restorative sleep.  Studying in the mornings and early afternoon proved to be much more relaxing for me and I retained more information.

The day before the ARC exam I did not study.  Yep, you read that right, I did not study.  I took the day to relax, pamper myself, get outdoors, center and try to de-stress.  My thought was this, “If I don’t know the information after four months of intense study I am not going to do myself any favors by trying to cram it into my head now.”  Another mantra I repeated was, “You’ve got this!  You know more than you give yourself credit for.”

The day of the exam I made sure to eat a healthy, protein packed breakfast.  I applied a dilution of sandalwood to my wrists and inside my elbows.  I did this because if I became overwhelmed during the exam I could inhale deeply from my wrist the aroma that best calms me.  Wearing a piece of aromatherapy jewelry with your chosen essential oil can also achieve the same effect.

Once I entered the test site I chose a seat that was away from possible distractions, e.g. windows to the outdoors, under an air vent, next to anyone wearing perfume.  The proctor of the exam will provide you with a pencil and paper, use it.  As I was going through the test I came across questions I didn’t fully understand or just plain did not know.  Instead of focusing on those questions I wrote the question number down on paper and returned to it after I had completed the exam.  I discovered that often the answer to a question I didn’t know was found in another question later in the exam.  Answer all questions, even those you have no clue about.  An educated guess is better than no guess at all, because let’s face it, you have a 25% chance of answering the question correctly with a good guess as opposed to the 100% fail of not answering!

ARC allows you three hours to take the exam.  Three hours is adequate time to answer the 250 multiple choice questions.  I encourage you to take your time.  It is not a race!  You do not get points for finishing first or quickly.  Take offered breaks in order to stretch, move about, rehydrate and use the bathroom.  If you are physically uncomfortable during the exam you may begin to focus on your discomfort and not the task at hand, so be as comfortable and relaxed as you can be.

My last bit of advice is to try and enjoy the experience as much as you can.  Inhale, breathe, allow your essential oil to work for you.  And, above all else remember, “You’ve got this!  You know more than you give yourself credit for.”

✿´´¯`•.¸¸ Fragrant Blessings ¸¸.•´¯`´

          Haly JensenHof, MA, RA 

An Aromatic Love Affair

Essential Oils!  I love them!  Establishing a relationship with an essential oil is like falling in love with a human being.  You know that feeling of seeing an attractive person for the first time?  That little tickle you get in your stomach, that flutter you have between heart beats?  Yeah, it’s like that. Remember the first time you nervously opened a bottle of an essential oil unfamiliar to you and tentatively took that first inhalation of its essence?  Remember how it made you feel? Remember your giddiness?

At first you may not be certain you really like the essential oil.  You want to like it, but you just aren’t sure.  You are drawn to it, but you just aren’t sure.  You are what I will call the “Hesitant Partner.”  On the other hand you may fall head over heels in love.  There is no other essential oil out there!  Nothing else exists but that one essential oil.  You are in LOVE!  You are what I will call the “All-in Lover.”

In either case, the Hesitant Partner or the All-in Lover, the relationship still needs to be established.  There are things that need to be learned about the essential oil in order for the relationship to fully grow and mature into a stable, safe and lasting relationship; similar to a relationship between human beings.

Similar to a love relationship with a human being, the All-in Lover may be so excited about his/her new found love, e.g. essential oil, s/he may be tempted to jump right in and use the essential oil in everything, knowing very little of the essential oil’s background.  The more Hesitant Partner may take time to learn as much as s/he can about the essential oil’s history, background, family, etc. before jumping in and using it.  The Hesitant Partner may learn her new boyfriend, e.g. essential oil, may not work well with the medication she is taking, or with her medical conditions, or that the essential oil may assist with her with sleep.  The All-in Lover may be so taken with the essential oil that thoughts of medications, allergies, medical conditions, and safety may not cross his mind, all that matters is the sweet aroma of his chosen.

Tumultuous All-in Love affairs typically end in disaster.  Not enough care or time is taken to learn about one another, and in the case of immersion in an essential oil the result can be a systemic reaction and a life-long sensitization.  To say the least, a nasty break-up follows!

Sometimes, as with human relationships, the All-in Lover begins to learn about the background, history, usefulness of his love, e.g. essential oil, before too much damage has been done to the relationship.  Sometimes the All-in Lover begins to establish his relationship with the essential oil, finally.  Meanwhile the Hesitant Partner, who has been establishing her relationship with her essential oil boyfriend has learned so much and has grown with the essential oil.  The Hesitant Partner has learned how to safely approach her new love, e.g. the essential oil, with respect and utilize his gifts to their utmost benefit; to do no harm.

The Hesitant Partner has gone on what I would call group dates.   She has taken her new found essential oil boyfriend and blended him with other essential oils that are familiar to her, in order to gradually and safely learn about him.  The Hesitant Partner has researched the essential oil and learned what medical conditions, allergies, ages, and medications he should not be used with, and she has learned what his chemical composition is as well as what therapeutic properties he possesses.  Additionally, the Hesitant Partner has learned about his botanical family tree.  The Hesitant Partner is now the Confident Partner.  She established her relationship with the essential oil she loves.  The Confident Partner took the time to learn about all the blessed gifts her essential oil had to offer her.  The Confident Partner learned how to utilize those blessed gifts to their utmost potential and to utilize those gifts safely.  The Confident Partner has established a life-long healthy relationship with the essential oil.  This, my aroma-friends, is an aromatic love affair!

✿´´¯`•.¸¸ Fragrant Blessings ¸¸.•´¯`´

          Haly JensenHof, MA, RA 

What is a Registered Aromatherapist?

When considering the use of essential oils why should you seek the advice of a formally trained Registered Aromatherapist over the advice of an essential oil distributor/vendor or friend?  The simple answer is for your safety!

Many people use essential oils to help maintain their health, but how many of those individuals have the understanding and formal training to use essential oils safely and to their full potential? A Registered Aromatherapist (RA) is an individual who fully understands, knows, and appreciates the power of essential oils.

A Registered Aromatherapist has dedicated him/herself to the study of essential oils and how those precious substances benefit the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of others.  A RA has also spent a large portion of his life being formally educated and trained in all areas associated with what we call aromatherapy.  Additionally, a RA commits to continuing her education throughout her lifetime.  Registration in aromatherapy is highly valued and provides formal recognition that an individual has achieved a high level of knowledge in the field.

In order to become a Registered Aromatherapist certain standards must be met.  The Aromatherapy Registration Counsel (ARC) outlines in great detail what those standards are and provides an examination to determine if an individual has met those standards.

To qualify for the ARC examination certain requirements must be met.  A candidate must first be able to prove that he has completed 50 hours of training in Level I Aromatherapy courses and an additional 200 hours of Level II Aromatherapy coursework from a school accredited by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) or the Alliance of International Aromatherapist (AIA).  A candidate may also take the ARC exam if she can provide evidence (transcripts/syllabi) she has mastered equivalent training to Level I and Level II education as determined by ARC.

The exam tests candidates on their proficiency in the following areas:

  1. Basics of Aromatherapy:
  2. History of aromatherapy
  3. Essential oil profiles
  4. Client assessment
  5. Techniques
  6. Current condition
  7. Client history
  8. Medication history
  9. Life style
  10. Contraindications
  11. Client conditions (allergies, medications, age, sex, etc.)
  12. Specific oils (knowing the properties of each essential oil, toxicity, etc.)
  13. Scientific Principles:
  14. Botany
  15. Extraction methods
  16. Chemistry
  17. Anatomy & Physiology –knowledge of ALL systems of the human body.
  18. Administration:
  19. Therapeutics
  20. Pharmacologic actions
  21. Actions
  22. Materia Medica
  23. Safety
  24. Delivery methods
  25. Blending
  26. Professional Issues:
  27. Documentation
  28. Referrals
  29. Follow-up
  30. Quality Control
  31. Compliance to Local, State, Federal Regulations
  32. Labeling
  33. Ethics

These are just the core standards each Registered Aromatherapist must know.

What are the purposes of Registration?

  • Recognizing formally those individuals who meet the eligibility requirements of the Aromatherapy Registration Council and pass the ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy.
  • Encouraging continued personal and professional growth in the practice of aromatherapy.
  • Establishing a Code of Ethics for Aromatherapists.
  • Establishing and measuring the level of knowledge required for registration in aromatherapy.
  • Providing a standard of knowledge requisite for registration; thereby assisting the employer, public, and members of other professions in the assessment of the Aromatherapist.
  • To promote delivery of safe and effective practices of Aromatherapy.

Once a person has successfully passed the Aromatherapy Registration Council examination he cannot just sit on his laurels.  Ongoing education is a requirement of maintaining registration.  Each Registered Aromatherapist must further her education and knowledge base by completing 100 continuing education hours every five years.  The learning never ends.

I am very proud to be a Registered Aromatherapist.  I worked hard to obtain my education and training in the field of aromatherapy.  I continue to grow and learn by continuing my aromatherapy studies.  I do this to provide my clients with the most safe and beneficial aromatherapy experience.

To learn more about the Aromatherapy Registration Council please visit the website at: http://aromatherapycouncil.org/

✿´´¯`•.¸¸ Haly JensenHof, MA, RA ¸¸.•´¯`´✿

Fragrantly helping you achieve health and well being!

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact me at yourhealthscents@gmail.com.  I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions.

You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/yourhealthscents

A Fragrant Facial

The cold temperatures and wind of winter take a toll on my skin, making my complexion dull and dry.  To treat myself to a complete facial seems like such a luxury, but in reality it is a necessity!  Not only does a weekly facial help my poor dry skin but it also gives me a fragrant, relaxing, and stress reducing 30 minutes.  I will outline the steps I take when doing a fragrant facial. At the end of the directions I will provide partial lists of essential oils you can use to tailor your fragrant facial for your specific needs.

  1. Gently wash your face.  For the cleanser, I use a blend of one part castile soap to three parts distilled water.  I put the soap and water into a six ounce foam pump bottle.  Using tepid to warm water I gently massage one pump of the soap mixture onto my face.  I then rinse my face with tepid, not hot water, several times and pat dry.
  2. Steam with essential oils. For this step I warm approximately four cups of water in my teapot.  I do not get the water to the boiling point, just to the point where steam begins to rise.  Please, be very careful to not get the water too hot!  Using water that is too hot can result in facial burns.  Sometimes using hot water straight from the tap is sufficient.  In a large glass bowl I add two drops of essential oil, and then add the steaming water.  I cover my head with a large towel, bend over the steaming bowl of water, and allow the essential oils and steam to do their magic.  I steam my face for five minutes, which is a beautiful time to mediate and savor the aroma of the essential oil. Steaming should be relaxing, so try to banish all thoughts of what you “should” be doing.  This time is for you!
  3. Exfoliate.  There are many times when I don’t use an exfoliant; however, when my face is so dry and flaky, due to the dry cold weather, I will exfoliate twice a month.  I use two Tablespoons dry, finely ground oatmeal and enough olive oil (Olea europaea) to make a paste.  I then gently massage the mixture onto my face for a few minutes.  The oatmeal is a soothing means of ridding your face of dry flakes, and the olive oil helps combat the effects of the environment by providing antioxidants.  After a slow, gentle massage, I use tepid water to rinse the exfoliant from my face.
  4. Clay mask. Applying a clay mask, and allowing it to dry, is another time during a facial when you can sit back, sip a cup of herbal tea, and relax.  I make a paste using two Tablespoons French green clay, two Tablespoons chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) hydrosol, one drop Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini) essential oil, and one drop neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) essential oil.  Once the mask has fully dried and become somewhat flaky, I gently wash it off with tepid water.  After all evidence of the mask has been removed I gently pat my face dry.
  5. Moisturize.  I can’t stress enough how important a facial moisturizer is, especially during the harsh winter weather.  I slather the moisturizer onto my face quite liberally, and gently massage it in.  Don’t forget to moisturize your neck!  I make my own facial moisturizer, but you may purchase a quality natural moisturizer. If you purchase an unscented moisturizer you can add two to three drops of essential oil to one ounce of moisturizer before applying it to your face.

Your fragrant facial is now complete!  By following these steps you can rejuvenate your complexion and reap the benefits of a fragrant relaxing experience.

Essential Oils for Dry Skin

◦Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini)                       ◦Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

◦Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)                  ◦Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

◦Rose (Rosa damascena)                                      ◦Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata)

Essential Oils for Mature Skin

◦Myrtle (Myrtus communis)                                  ◦ Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini)

◦Carrot seed (Daucus carota)                               ◦Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

◦ Rose (Rosa damascena)                                     ◦ Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata)

◦Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)                 ◦Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)

Essential Oils for Acne

◦Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)                          ◦Myrtle (Myrtus communis)

◦Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)*                             ◦Juniper (Juniperus communis)

◦Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)                      ◦Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

◦Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)                                     ◦Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

◦Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)*                               ◦Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

Essential Oils for Oily Skin

◦Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)                          ◦Myrtle (Myrtus communis)

◦Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)*                             ◦Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

◦Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)                                     ◦Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)

◦Lemon (Citrus limon)*                                        ◦Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Essential Oils for Sensitive Skin

◦Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)                     ◦Carrot seed (Daucus carota)

◦Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)                    ◦Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini)

◦ Rose (Rosa damascena)                                     ◦Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)

*Citrus oils are known to be photosensitizing, meaning they amplify the effects of UV light.  Do not use if you are planning on being exposed to sunlight, tanning beds, or sun lamps.

The information provided is for educational purposes, and it is not intended to replace the medical directives of your healthcare provider.  This information is not meant for diagnosis of health issues.  If you are pregnant, have serious or multiple health concerns, consult with your healthcare provider before using essential oils.  If you experience any complications or adverse reactions contact your healthcare provider.   

Enjoy Fragrant Blessings and Facials!

✿´´¯`•.¸¸ Haly JensenHof, MA, RA ¸¸.•´¯`´✿

Fragrantly helping you achieve health and well being!

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact me at yourhealthscents@gmail.com.  I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions.

You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/yourhealthscents

Too Much Perfume!

I want to write about this topic while we are in that time of year when we are closed in, you know, winter.  This topic has continued to present itself over the past few weeks, so it must be a topic I am supposed to write about.

Have you ever been in a tight space, like an elevator, car, small office, or public bathroom and a person is wearing a lot of perfume or cologne?  What happens to you?  I know I can have several physical responses.

In the past month I have had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. It is a small restaurant that seats about 40 people, but it isn’t what I would call cramped.  Twice I have had my meal ruined because someone has been wearing too much perfume.  What I mean is this, someone has entered the restaurant wearing an overabundance of perfume that has completely filled the space, to the degree I can no longer smell my food, and every time I open my mouth I get a big taste of Eau de cologne!  It ruined my meal and my enjoyment of the meal.  To top it off I even tasted the perfume for several minutes after I left the restaurant. Huge bummer!

There have been countless times when I have been in the hospital elevator and had my senses assaulted by someone’s perfume.  I know I have felt sick during one of these encounters, but I have also wondered about the poor patient who has been trapped in a room with this scent.

I remember a situation with a co-worker when I was a therapist in an institutional setting.  I began walking down a long hallway when my nostrils were filled with a cloying, sweet smell.  I looked up and noticed a female co-worker walking down the hallway about 20 feet ahead of me. She must have felt me behind her because she turned around and noticed I had my hand covering my nose and mouth.  I was probably also making some kind of ugly face because she said, “Hey.  Don’t you like my new perfume?  It’s going to be my signature.”  I admit, I was not very tactful. I could have said things differently, but when you can’t breathe and your eyes are watering tact doesn’t come readily, so I said, “No!  I do not like your new perfume!  And what do you mean it is going to be your ‘signature?’”  My co-worker said, “It’s going to be the scent people associate with me.  When I  leave a room they will know I have been there.”  Again, I did not use any tact.  I shot back, “Oh my God!  Believe me, Mary!  Everyone will know where you have been.  They will know for hours after you have left.  Geez, do you know I can taste your perfume?!”   I am thankful Mary did not take offense at my complete lack of manners because later (several days later, after she showered all that perfume off) we were able to have a conversation about scent.  I told Mary what my mother taught me about the use of perfume.  My mother said perfume was to be used sparingly.  She said a woman’s signature perfume leaves a positive impression on those she wants intimately close to her, like her lover/husband, children, and dearest friends, not everyone.  She told me using too much perfume leaves an impression, but it isn’t a pleasant one.  Perfume is meant to attract people to you, not repel them.  Side note here; remember that little old lady in church who wore what smelled like a whole bottle of rose water, or lilac perfume, or whatever it was?  Remember how you hated sitting behind her?  That is the repelling action of too much perfume.  Now, back to what my Mom taught me.  Mom also taught me that perfume does not smell the same on every woman.  The chemistry of the woman and the chemistry of the perfume mix in unique ways, and no two are alike, that is what makes it her signature scent.  I kind of like that, it makes me smile.

So, I am asking every woman and man to think before he or she sprays on that fu-fu juice.  The following is what people can experience when they are in the presence of too much perfume or cologne:

•nostrils may burn

•eyes may water

•may be able to taste the perfume

•may become nauseated

•may have an asthma attack

•may have a PTSD flashback

•may have a panic attack

Are these very unpleasant, and in some cases dangerous, reactions what you want to put people through when they come near you?  Do you really want to make people sick?  Do you want people to avoid you because you are heavy-handed with the Axe or Channel?  (Pun about the Axe  totally intended!)  Please be considerate of people you will come into contact with during the day.  If you have to ask someone if you have too much perfume/cologne on, hopefully that person will be honest with you.  And, if you have to ask you most likely do have too much scent on.  If you aren’t sure about the honesty of the answer, ask them, “If you had to ride to work with me in a Mini Cooper would you have to roll down all the windows and hang your head out to breathe?”  If the answer is no you are good to go, but if the answer is yes you may need to take a shower and forego the Eau de toilette.

Haly JensenHof, MA, RA

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact me at yourhealthscents@gmail.com This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions. You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/yourhealthscents

Making a Fresh Potpourri

Making a fresh potpourri is a fun activity children of all ages can assist with, and it is a project that can get the entire family outdoors.  I am so fortunate to live in Wyoming, “God’s Country,” which provides me with the main ingredients needed to make a holiday potpourri.  In fact, right outside my front door, are the trees that produce the Juniper berries/sprigs and Cedar sprigs I need to create a potpourri that will fill the house with the scents of Christmas! Continue reading “Making a Fresh Potpourri”

Choosing an Aromatherapy Program

As the use of essential oils increases, and more people have become aware of the amazing power of aromatherapy, many individuals are seeking to gain knowledge, understanding, and formal training. Many people choose to embark upon a career as a Certified Aromatherapist. Recently, several people have asked the question, “Where can I get good aromatherapy training and/or certification?” Continue reading “Choosing an Aromatherapy Program”