Written by Meghan Rhodes MCPP MAPA
Wondering how to choose the right herbal medicine course for you? Here’s my recommendation as a qualified herbalist - think through all the different aspects of a herbal medicine course before making your decision. We’re fortunate to have so many options these days, but keeping your end goals in mind will help you make the most of your journey. Here are some important factors to keep in mind when choosing your herbal medicine course.
1. Your goals: What kind of herbalist do you want to be?
Do you want to have a clinical practice and support clients on a 1:1 basis safely and effectively? Then go for a qualification course that’s accredited and gets you 500 hours of clinical experience. It doesn’t have to be a university course, but the school should be able to tell you which professional bodies you’ll be eligible to join after you complete their herbal medicine course.
Not everyone wants to go into practice, though! If you want to support yourself, your family and possibly a few members of your community, then look for a herbal medicine course with a reputable teacher - it doesn’t have to be formally accredited to be brilliant, but you do want to ensure your teacher is knowledgeable, either because they’ve qualified as a clinical herbalist themselves, or because they have completed more traditional, long-term methods of training, such as an apprenticeship. That being said, many people start on smaller courses or workshops and then choose to switch to a qualification course because they realise they’re up for a career change, so look forward to exciting twists and turns in your journey.
2. Your learning style: How do you learn best?
Do you learn best getting hands-on or do you prefer theory-based learning? Do you prefer lots of structure, assignments, required reading and exams or do you get more out of a more experiential teaching style? Keep in mind this can change over time. You may have been a hard-core academic in your university days, but as you experience different seasons of life, you may prefer to just get stuck in without the pressure. Or you may have realised over time that you don’t need lots of rote memorisation exercises and formal learning timetables to keep you on track if it’s something you’re truly passionate about and motivated to learn. Whatever learning style suits you best at this point in your life, you’ll find a herbal medicine course to meet you where you are.
3. Your location: Where is the herbal medicine course and where are you?
All options are available when it comes to choosing a herbal medicine course, despite your location. There are countless online courses - both live and on-demand, as well as many brilliant in-person herbal medicine courses. Some herbal medicine courses, like the one I offer, blend the best of both worlds - in-person gatherings wrapping around live online sessions that are recorded for future reference. There may not be an in-person herbal medicine course right round the corner, but there may be one a few hours away you could get to. Although I have many students from Yorkshire, I also have plenty from across the UK. Keep in mind whilst an online on-demand herbal medicine course may be tempting, if you know you won’t complete it without that real person engagement factor, it doesn’t matter how interesting it looks!
4. Your time: How much do you really have?
It’s always worth checking the amount of time a herbal medicine course will require - not only to officially ‘complete’ the course, but also how many hours of live/recorded lessons there are, how much time any course work is expected to complete, if the course spans multiple years, etc. If you’re not sure, it’s always worth asking. On the intensive herbal medicine course I teach each year, students complete 75 live teaching hours with me, spread across four full day in-person gatherings (one each season), 24 live one-hour sessions on Zoom (recorded for future reference) and a closing ceremony. There are no formal assignments or required reading - everything students need to learn herbalism is covered during our live sessions. Whatever else sparks their interest can be enthusiastically explored above and beyond the course.
5. Does it give you that champagne feeling?
Now that you’ve thought through all the practicalities, set them aside for a moment. Read the herbal medicine course description again and listen to your body. How does it make you feel? Overwhelmed? Full of dread? Nervous? Uninspired? Bored? Or excited? Alive? Like something is stirring deep within you? Like you’re full of champagne bubbles? If a herbal medicine course is making you feel overwhelmed or uninspired before you even start, you won’t get much out of it, let alone enjoy it. Look for a herbal medicine course that makes you feel like someone’s uncorked a bottle of champagne inside you!
6. Lingering questions about a herbal medicine course? Ask the instructor!
If you have any questions about a course, whether it’s practicalities, payment or you just want to get a sense of the instructor’s energy - pop them a message! Those of us who teach herbal medicine love chatting with people who are considering going on a journey into herbalism enrolling on a herbal medicine course, so just ask. The most important thing is you choose the right herbal medicine course for you.
So when you’re choosing the right herbal medicine course for you, keep these factors in mind: your goals, your learning style, your location, your time, how the herbal medicine course makes you feel and if you have any lingering questions you want to ask the instructor. When you keep these things in mind, you’ll find you discover so much joy and wonder from the herbal medicine course you choose, so it’s well worth weighing up all the factors.
If you’ve been reading this article and have realised you want to be a home herbalist, community herbalist or a clinical herbalist with more practical training, you get the most out of hands-on learning without the pressure of papers and exams and you’re in Yorkshire or the UK and want a live blended in-person/online experience, you may just want to read the course description for my intensive herbal medicine course - Awaken Herbal Wisdom - and see if it gives you that champagne feeling.
All kinds of students join my intensive herbal medicine course - from people learning for themselves to students doing qualifications who want additional experiential learning - so no matter where you are on your journey at the moment, you’re very welcome to take the next step learning herbal medicine with me. Of course, if you have any questions about my intensive herbal medicine course, just pop me an email.
Whatever herbal medicine course you choose, I hope you enjoy the journey!