Frequently Asked Questions

How did Aromatherapy Registration Council (“ARC”) begin, and who has been involved?

ARC has evolved from two other groups, first the Purdue initiative, then the Steering Committee on Education Standards in Aromatherapy in the United States. These are explained further below.

What was the Purdue Initiative?

The “Purdue initiative” was the name given to a group of people involved in the aromatherapy industry who took the Aromatherapy program at Purdue in 1996 and 1997. The group showed concern for:

  • A perceived lack of education standards in the aromatherapy industry
  • Instances of unsafe practices
  • The prospect of the FDA regulating the sale of essential oils if the FDA perceived a need to act to protect public safety
  • The prospect of governmental regulation if the industry was not able to provide a self regulation system.
  • The lack of any independent credential available to a person in the industry.

What was the Steering Committee?

The Steering Committee was established in 1997 by the people involved with the Purdue Initiative. The Steering Committee’s goal was to address the issue of educational standards in Aromatherapy in the United States.

The Steering Committee consisted of unpaid volunteers working on projects in the member’s spare time. The first steering committee meeting was held at Synergia in Boston, in October 1997. The members of the Steering Committee were (in alphabetical order):

  • Jane Buckle – RJ Buckle and Associates, NY;
  • Valerie Cooksley – The Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy, WA;
  • Mynou DeMey – The American Institute for Aromatherapy, NY;
  • Charla Devereux, NORA NY & UK
  • Victoria Edwards – Leydet Aromatics; CA
  • Eva-Marie Lind, American Alliance of Aromatherapy, Australasian College of Health Sciences, OR
  • Mindy Green – Herb Research Foundation, Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies; Green Scentsations, CO
  • Cheryl Hoard, NAHA, MO
  • Elizabeth Jones, NAHA, CA
  • Laraine Kyle – The Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy, CO
  • Rob Pappas – Adjunct Professor at Indiana University, The Essential Oil University, The Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy; IN
  • Dorene Petersen – The Australasian College of Health Sciences, OR;
  • Carolyn Sajdecki – The College of DuPage, IL;
  • Sylla Shepherd Hangar – The Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy, FL;
  • Jade Schutes – The Institute of Dynamic Aromatherapy, WA;
  • Karen Sellers, NAHA, TX
  • Erika Yigzaw (nee Petersen), Australasian College of Health Sciences, OR;

What did the Steering Committee do?

The Steering Committee considered ways that these concerns could be addressed. Possibilities included developing a prescriptive core curriculum, forming a council of schools, establishing a voluntary national register and creating a voluntary national exam, or leaving things as they were.

The members determined that a voluntary registration council would best address these concerns for several reasons:

  • A registration council could be non profit, and independent from any industry membership body, educational facility, or other organization. This would enhance credibility both within the industry and from outside the industry.
  • A registration council could work towards National Commission for Certifying Agencies (“NCCA”) accreditation, which would further enhance recognition from outside the industry.
  • The registration council could sponsor a voluntary examination to test the core body of knowledge that is aromatherapy at the present time.
  • Creating formal self-regulation through a voluntary exam and register would promote the interests of the entire professional aromatherapy community by illustrating to regulatory bodies that the aromatherapy industry was sufficiently mature to self regulate, and therefore avoid the perception that external regulation was needed.
  • The Registration Council could provide a public register of Aromatherapist who had demonstrated a core body of knowledge through successfully passing the examination.
  • The Registration Council will enhance the credibility and visibility of aromatherapy to the public and other medical professionals. By demonstrating the aromatherapy industry’s commitment to safety standards and ethics, a greater degree of confidence in aromatherapy could be created in the value and safety of aromatherapy.
  • The voluntary exam could be open to self taught members of the industry and would not require that people take a program at any school. It would therefore be inclusive and not divide the industry.
  • The voluntary exam would test core knowledge, but would not restrict practitioners in the industry from specializing in any aspect of aromatherapy.
  • As the Registration Council expanded and funds became available, it could make information on safe practices in aromatherapy available to the public through its website.
  • As the Registration Council expanded and funds became available, it could also sponsor an industry newsletter covering issues of importance to the industry, including safety standards, practice standards, legal and regulatory issues, professional employment opportunities, and the direction of the aromatherapy market.
  • The members of the SC determined that creating a prescriptive core curriculum would unnecessarily restrict development of the aromatherapy industry. In addition, curriculum based assessment is not in compliance with NCCA.

How did the Steering Committee determine whether a common body of knowledge existed?

The Steering Committee requested final examinations from all educators within the field of Aromatherapy with a view to determining whether a common body of knowledge existed and, if so, creating the exam along with grading guidelines for National standards.

The educators and schools that contributed their final exams were (in alphabetical order):

  • Jane Buckle – RJ Buckle and Associates, NY
  • Valerie Cooksley – The Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy, WA
  • Mynou DeMey – The American Institute for Aromatherapy, NY
  • Victoria Edwards – Leydet Aromatics, CA
  • Mindy Green – Herb Research Foundation, Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies, Green Scentsations, CO
  • Laraine Kyle – The Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy, CO
  • Danilla Mansfield – Aroma Vitae, CA
  • Rob Pappas – Indiana University, The Essential Oil University, The Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy, IN
  • Dorene Petersen – The Australasian College of Health Sciences, OR
  • Carolyn Sajdecki – The College of DuPage, IL.
  • Sylla Shepherd Hangar – The Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy, FL
  • Jade Schutes – The Institute of Dynamic Aromatherapy, WA
  • Karen Sellers – NAHA level 1, NAHA level 2
  • Patricia Hall, Vice-President & Education Director, Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists, Ottawa Canada

And more recently,

Is there a common, generally acceptable core body of knowledge that is innate within the field of Aromatherapy?

The final examinations reviewed by the Steering Committee showed a clear common, core body of underpinning knowledge throughout the United States and Canada within the comprehensive field of aromatherapy. Questions from these examinations form part of the “item bank” and will be used as the pool from which the exam questions are drawn. The process each item (question) goes through is explained further below. Subsequently, the exam leading to ARC registration is broad based covering the generally acceptable body of knowledge of Aromatherapy. It is applicable to more than one profession.

What is the Aromatherapy Registration Council?

In 1999, the Steering Committee established the Aromatherapy Registration Council (“ARC”), a Public Benefit, Non Profit Oregon Corporation. ARC is in compliance with requirements for its non profit status. The Aromatherapy Registration Council is registered under the Charitable Trust and Corporation Act, administered by the Charitable Activities Section of the Oregon Department of Justice and the Attorney General. ARC’s registration number is 28942. ARC has retained legal counsel to proceed with an application to the IRS for tax exempt status.

What benefits will the formation of the ARC achieve for the aromatherapy industry?

  • The Aromatherapy Registration Council is independent from any membership body, organization, or educational facility. This assures an impartial and unbiased body distinct from a body where members pay to belong to it and from one that accredits or endorses specific schools. Independence from any paid membership organization is essential for objectivity and credibility from both within the industry and externally.
  • The Aromatherapy Registration Council is non profit. This would enhance credibility both within the industry and from outside the industry.
  • A registration council could work towards NCCA accreditation, which would further enhance recognition from outside the industry.
  • The registration council could sponsor a voluntary examination to test the core body of knowledge that is aromatherapy at the present time (assuming that a core body of knowledge could be determined), with an emphasis on public safety.
  • Creating formal self-regulation through a voluntary exam and register would promote the interests of the entire professional aromatherapy community by illustrating to regulatory bodies that the aromatherapy industry was sufficiently mature to self regulate, and did not need to be regulated from outside or above.
  • The Registration Council could provide a public register of Aromatherapist who had demonstrated a core body of knowledge through successfully passing the examination.
  • The Registration Council will enhance the credibility and visibility of aromatherapy to the public and other medical professionals. By demonstrating the aromatherapy industry’s commitment to safety standards and ethics, a greater degree of confidence in aromatherapy could be created in the value and safety of aromatherapy.
  • The voluntary exam could be open to self taught members of the industry and would not require that people take a program at any school. It would therefore be inclusive and not divide the industry.
  • The voluntary exam would test core knowledge, but would not restrict practitioners in the industry from specializing in any aspect of aromatherapy.
  • As the Registration Council expanded and funds became available, it could make information on safe practices in aromatherapy available to the public through its website. It could also sponsor an industry newsletter covering issues of importance to the industry, including safety standards, practice standards, legal and regulatory issues, professional employment opportunities, and the direction of the aromatherapy market.
  • The members of the SC determined that creating a prescriptive core curriculum would unnecessarily restrict development of the aromatherapy industry. In addition, curriculum based assessment is not in compliance with NCCA.

What is meant by Registration?

The Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) endorses the concept of voluntary, periodic registration by examination for all individuals practicing aromatherapy. Registration focuses specifically on the individual and provides formal recognition of a basic level of knowledge in the field of Aromatherapy.

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 (now the ARC™ Disciplinary Policy).
  • 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 practice of Aromatherapy through registration of Aromatherapists by:

How can an individual attain registration?

Candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of knowledge about Aromatherapy to pass the exam. Eligible candidates who have achieved a passing score on the ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy will receive a certificate from the ARC. A database of Registered Aromatherapists will be maintained by the ARC and may be reported in its publications and on its website.

How long is registration recognized for?

Registration for Aromatherapists is recognized for a period of five years. At that time to retain registration the candidate must either retake and pass the current Registration Examination or meet the alternative requirements as are in effect at that time. ARC may determine that evidence of continuing education may be sufficient, however this has not been determined at this time.

Is printed matter available for potential candidates?

  • Registration
  • Purposes of registration
  • Eligibility
  • Administration
  • Attainment of registration and re-registration
  • Revocation of registration
  • Application procedure
  • Completion of application
  • Testing center information
  • Requests for special testing centers
  • Fees
  • Refunds
  • Schedule for examination
  • Admission to testing
  • Rules for the examination
  • Reports of results
  • Confidentiality
  • Content of examination
  • Content outline
  • Sample examination questions
  • Recommended references
  • Code of Ethics (now the ARC Disciplinary Policy)

A Candidate Handbook is available at no charge from the Professional Testing Corporation, 1350 Broadway, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10018; (212) 356-0660. The Candidate Handbook may be downloaded at http://www.ptcny.com/ Simply click on the list of programs under test information and select the ARC Examination in Aromatherapy. The option to download the handbook is towards the bottom of this information along with the option to have this posted to you.

The Candidate Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the following:

ARC recommends that anyone considering the examination process obtain a copy of this handbook.

What will the exam fee be?

The exam fee is $325.00. This covers Registration for candidates who pass the exam for a period of five (5) years.

What is the exam fee used for?

ARC is a non-profit Oregon corporation. The exam fee is used to pay for the services PTC provides, expenses involved in the item review process, board meetings, telephone expenses, stationary, legal expenses, and marketing and promotion expenses.

What form will the assessment exam take?

ARC, in combination with PTC, has chosen an objective assessment method using a multiple-choice format for the exam.

Why have ARC and PTC chosen this format for assessment?

Multiple choice questions and the testing process are designed to test the candidate’s knowledge through both the correct answer and through using distracters (wrong answers). Answers are able to be referenced in the recommended texts, and are objectively verifiable. The questions are general in nature and focused on safety.

A practice and competency based process is a subjective assessment which was determined not to be desirable. Multiple choice questions objectively test a base body of knowledge. They do not resemble day to day responsibilities or replace education, case studies, or practical experience.

Who is PTC?

The ARC Registration Examination program is sponsored by the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC). The ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy is administered for the ARC by the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC), 1350 Broadway – 17th Floor, New York, New York 10018, (212) 356-0660,

WWW.PTCNY.COM

Questions concerning the examination should be referred to PTC.  PTC’s services focus on the measurement aspects of human resources and the implementation of national testing programs, including the design, development, and administration of examinations for professional organizations.

What does PTC do?

PTC provides testing services for over 50 professional bodies in the US. PTC recommends an objective assessment method. It is considered the fairest, most objective, unbiased method of testing. Most 50 professional bodies administered by PTC use this multi-choice format for examinations.

What is the content of the examination?

The ARC Registration Examination is a written examination composed of a maximum of 250 multiple-choice objective questions with a total testing time of four (4) hours.

More information, including example questions, can be found in the Candidate Handbook. The Candidate Handbook may be downloaded at

http://www.ptcny.com/

Simply click on the list of programs under test information and select the ARC Examination in Aromatherapy. The option to download the handbook is towards the bottom of this information along with the option to have this posted to you.

Where did the questions come from?

Items (questions) came from the examinations submitted to the SC; from educators; and from item reviewers. All items are put through an intensive item review process by PTC in conjunction with ARC. Any member of the industry is invited to submit items to PTC for review. Anyone interested in submitting items can obtain guidelines from PTC. Email PTC directly at

ptcny@ptcny.com

How are the questions structured ?

  • All items (proposed exam questions) are carefully screened to insure that questions based on subjective assessment are not used.
  • Items are also reviewed by a variety of people from various Aromatherapy backgrounds and professions, from different regions of the United States.
  • All test items are checked for appropriateness, geographic fairness, and relevance to the body of knowledge required by the content outline, clarity and accuracy.
  • All test items are supported by current texts and articles.
  • All questions can be verified in current literature. Despite controversial topics, the Steering Committee, ARC, and PTC have determined there is a core body of knowledge that is common throughout the profession that is able to be tested.
  • Controversial subjective issues are not included in the exam.

All of the questions are reference based. The references are standard Aromatherapy texts and examples are listed in the Aromatherapy Registration Council: Examination Candidate Handbook.

How are the questions weighted?

I. Basic Concepts of Aromatherapy 20%

II. Scientific Principles 30%

III. Administration 35%

IV. Professional Issues 15%

The content of the ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy will be weighted in approximately the following manner:

Detailed information and example questions are included in the Candidate Handbook. The Candidate Handbook may be downloaded at http://www.ptcny.com/ Simply click on the list of programs under test information and select the ARC Examination in Aromatherapy. The option to download the handbook is towards the bottom of this information along with the option to have this posted to you.

Whose version of essential oil safety is considered correct for the purposes of the exam?

A list of recommended texts and sample questions is provided in the Candidate Handbook and is duplicated here. All topics covered in the exam have been verified in multiple sources of literature.

The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Battaglia – ISBN 0-646-20670-2
Clinical Aromatherapy in Nursing, Buckle – ISBN 0-340-63177-5
Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Price – ISBN 0-443-04975-0
375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, Rose – ISBN 1-883319-89 7
Medical Aromatherapy: Healing with Essential Oils, Schnaubelt – ISBN 1-883319-69 2
The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual, Sheppard-Hanger – ISBN 0-9643-14-10-X Available through Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy www.atlanticinstitute.com
Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Tisserand – ISBN 0-443-05260-3
Structure and Function of the Body, Thibodeau & Patton – ISBN 0-323-01081-4
The Practice of Aromatherapy, Valnet – ISBN 89281-398-9
Plant Aromatics: A Data and Reference Manual, Watt – No ISBN listed. Available through Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy www.atlanticinstitute.com
The Chemistry of Essential Oils, Williams – ISBN 1-870228-12-X

Does ARC offer exams for specialist areas?

ARC does not believe that a valid and reliable exam can be created for all areas of specialization at once. The exam leading to ARC registration is broad based covering the generally acceptable body of knowledge of Aromatherapy. It is applicable to more than one profession.

How is the reliability of the exam being ensured?

PTC is responsible for the reliability of the exam. All questions are subjected to the item review and exam review process, where they are reviewed, evaluated and referenced based on appropriateness, currentness, clarity and correctness. All items are also subjected to item analysis after the test has been administered and before candidates receive their scores. This process begins before each examination reaches its final form and is currently underway for the December exam.

How is the exam going to be scored?

PTC uses a comprehensive approach to setting passing scores. There will be approximately 250 questions. Within 4-5 points of the passing score, the test will be hand scored to ensure there are no errors in the scanning of the answer sheets.

Is ARC in compliance with the NCCA?

ARC is in compliance with NCCA requirements at this time. The NCCA regulations require that an organization examine candidates for at least two administrations before applying for accreditation. ARC plans to apply for accreditation with the NCCA after that time.

What scale of job analysis/role delineation has been conducted?

Formal role delineation has not been conducted. It is acceptable to perform this at a later stage. The content outline, which assesses roles and responsibilities within the Aromatherapy field, was derived from various sources.

How will ARC/PTC handle appeals?

Candidates will be able to challenge any questions, all submissions will be reviewed by PTC and ARC. PTC evaluates all question scores. If any question is consistently misunderstood or answered incorrectly by the majority of Exam Candidates the question is discounted, and not used again.

How will the ARC Register be made accessible to employers, the public, and members of other professions?

Everyone will be able to contact PTC to verify an individual’s status. ARC will issue Certificates to successful candidates, which can be displayed. ARC may at a later stage publish a newsletter, which will publicize successful candidates, and host a web based register. At no time will an unsuccessful candidate’s name ever be published. The public will not be informed of unsuccessful candidates.

Who can sit the exam?

The exam can be attempted by any candidate who fulfills the eligibility requirements. Eligibility is outlined in the Candidate Handbook. Applicants must agree to abide by the Code of Ethics (now the ARC Disciplinary Policy). The Candidate Handbook may be downloaded at

http://www.ptcny.com/

Simply click on the list of programs under test information and select the ARC Examination in Aromatherapy. The option to download the handbook is towards the bottom of this information along with the option to have this posted to you.

What are the stated “eligibility requirements” to taking the exam?

1. The ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy is open to anyone who has completed a minimum of a one year Level 2 program in aromatherapy from a college or school that is in compliance with the current NAHA Educational Guidelines or anyone who could provide evidence of equivalent training (transcripts must be enclosed with Application).

2. Agreement to adhere to the Disciplinary Policy.

3. Completion and filing of Application for ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy.

4. Payment of required fees.

The Candidate Handbook may be downloaded at http://www.ptcny.com/ Simply click on the list of programs under test information and select the ARC Examination in Aromatherapy. The option to download the handbook is towards the bottom of this information along with the option to have this posted to you.

Where will the exam be held?

The ARC™ Registration Examination in Aromatherapy is administered during an established two-week testing period on a daily basis, Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays, at computer-based testing facilities managed by PSI. PSI has several hundred testing sites in the United States, as well as Canada. Scheduling is done on a first-come, first-serve basis. To find a testing center near you visit:

http://www.ptcny.com/cbt/sites.htm

or call PSI at (800) 211-2754.

Please note: Hours and days of availability vary at different centers. You will not be able to schedule your examination appointment until you have received an Eligibility Notice from PTC.

Once your Application has been received and processed, and your eligibility verified, you will be mailed an Eligibility Notice within 6 weeks preceding the start of the testing period. The Eligibility Notice plus current, government-issued photo identification must be presented in order to gain admission to the testing center. A candidate not receiving an Eligibility Notice at least three weeks before the beginning of the testing period should contact the Professional Testing Corporation by telephone at (212) 356-0660.

The Eligibility Notice will indicate where to call to schedule your examination appointment as well as the dates in which testing is available. Appointment times are first-come, first-serve, so schedule your appointment as soon as you receive your Eligibility Notice in order to maximize your chance of testing at your preferred location and on your preferred date.

It is highly recommended that each candidate becomes familiar with the testing site.

It is the candidate’s responsibility to call PSI to schedule the exam appointment.
Special testing arrangements may be made for individuals with special needs. Submit the Application, examination fee, and a completed and signed Request for Special Accommodations Form, available from www.ptcny.com or by calling PTC at (212) 356-0660. Requests for individuals with special testing needs must be received at least EIGHT weeks before the testing period begins.

Has ARC has aligned itself politically?

ARC has not aligned itself with politicians or legislators. ARC does have legal counsel.

Are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and/or Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) standards part of the scope of the test?

Not at this time, but the development of the exam is a continuous process.

Can questions be submitted to ARC from within the industry?

Yes. The examination tests a body of knowledge common to all of Aromatherapy. Specific items can be submitted to PTC for review. All questions are put through psychometric evaluation and item review. Questions and answers must be verifiable in reference texts. No one person will see or review all questions.

Does passing the ARC Aromatherapy Exam entitle me to practice medicine?

No. Please refer to the purposes of ARC Registration.

If you are a licensed health care provider; for example, an RN, LMT, or MD, in many States you may be able to adjunct Aromatherapy to your current practice. You should check with your state licensing body and insurer.

If you are not a licensed health care provider, it is important to realize that the ARC Aromatherapy Registration Exam and the ARC Certificate in no way constitutes a license to practice medicine, diagnose, or treat patients.

Aromatherapy is a complementary modality and is in no way intended to replace the treatment of a licensed medical practitioner. The ARC Code of Ethics, now the ARC Disciplinary Policy, also addresses this issue, by requiring that an ARC Registered Aromatherapist provides services within the scope and the limits of his or her training and refers clients to appropriate qualified professionals as indicated.

Who will know if I fail the examination?

PTC holds all applications to sit the examination in confidence. Names are not disclosed until examinees are informed if they have passed or failed. At that stage, the names of successful candidates are notified to the ARC for inclusion in the Register.

What is ARC’s tax status?

ARC is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code as an organization described in section 501(c)(6). As such, ARC’s annual information return, Form 990 or Form 990-EZ, is available for public inspection for three years after the due date of the return or the date the return is filed. ARC’s exemption application, any supporting documents, and exemption letter, are also available for public inspection at the office of the current Chair of ARC. You may request copies of these documents in person or in writing without charge except for reasonable fees for copying and postage. Requests can be made to the current Chair of ARC, Dorene Petersen, at 5940 SW Hood Ave, Portland, OR 97239.

What if I have more questions?

We invite you to email ARC at: info@aromatherapycouncil.org

For questions about the examination procedure and locations, please contact PTC at 1350 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10018 Phone 212 356 0660 or online at www.ptcny.com