Insight Herbalism and Apprenticeship professional training
The Apprenticeship is a nominal seven year part time program aimed at supporting people who feel the vocation to train as a herbalist. It has been developing over the past 5 years and now consist of two stages – a first 2-3 years to gain a good professional foundation in guiding people into relationship with plants (Insight Herbalism) and then continued support and guidance to broaden out and develop your own unique practice and style of herbalism.
We have recently secured insurance for those studying following our Insight Herbalism curriculum, meaning that, on completion, students can apply for professional insurance in Insight Herbalism, a specific approach to working with plants based on helping people find the teachings and insights from the plants themselves. This approach is not medical, diagnostic or prescriptive but based on guiding people into incredible and nurturing relationship with plants. Whilst training you can become a student member of the Foundation for Insight Herbalism, a professional peer support network for those who work in this way. Once you complete the curriculum, you can become a pracising member and part of a community of peers supporting each other and those on this path.
The entire apprenticeship is based on supporting 3000 hours of study – however, after completing the Insight Herbalism (1000-15000 hours) curriculum the program can be continued whilst developing your Insight Herbalism pratice – bringing real life experience to your further training. In this way we avoid any ‘cliff-edge’ at the end of a training, since over the years you have been systematically increasing your skills, competance and autonomy as in herbalism. We believe this approach to slowly developing as a well rounded and competent herbalist has many benefits – not least allowing you to find your own path and own style of practice as you train.
Currently (2021) the Apprenticeship is full. The path to the apprenticeship will always start with a three day Introductory class, followed by the Foundation Year, which can count as Year 1 of the three year nominal timescale for the Insight Herbalism training. It is important to say that completion is based purely on competencies, case study hours and portfolio, so different people may take different timescales to complete.
For those attending an Introduction or Immersion class who are interested in taking their study further we have a full course curriculum, code of ethics and case study handbook we can share with you and can make time to discuss the first stage (Insight Herbalism) in more detail.
A commitment to each two year block is needed at a time, with a full review at the end of this block before moving onto the next block. The Apprenticeship changes gear significantly from the Foundation year – requiring the student to step up to a high degree of autonomy and professionality.
A guidline to the skills we are looking for in applicants is here. If you are interested we recommend (for your own benefit) writing a response to each point with honest reflection. The most imporant thing is not to ‘fulfill’ all of these but to be honest and open about your limitations and areas you need to develop.
Being highly student centred and peer supported means that each individual apprentice must direct their own learning according to their vision of themselves as a herbalist. Experience has shown that this is different for each person, and as a guide, my role is to help support and challenge the apprentice’s process and offer a backbone of training ensuring core elements (particularly to do with safety and professionality) are covered.
I don’t believe that any single guide could ever offer an entire apprenticeship, but my commitment is to offer a robust holding structure within which the apprentice can source out the additional trainings and experiences that they will need as they develop professional skills.
These are exciting times for the profession of herbalists – with more and more support for the apprenticeship style model of training as an alternative or supplment to the rather academic, university style trainings that have been the backbone of herbal training in the UK for many decades. We don’t know what makes a great training in herbalism, but we are hungry to watch, learn, be challenged and find out!
We have been inspired by traditional models of craft training to create the idea of the ‘Journey-person‘ , a phase of training that can be continued for as long as the apprentice wants and needs. At this point each apprentice will have started developing their own Insight Herbalism practice (with support) and working to share their herb knowledge with other people.
Whilst the nominal time scale is seven years, some very enthusiastic / already skilled apprentices may feel that they have reached their threshold for completion (a largely self determined threshold) in a shorter time, whilst others may want far longer. Each apprentice can remain a ‘journey-person / apprentice-herbalist’ for as long as they like. We make little distinction between CPD (Continued professional development) and PPD (Pre-professional development) … you never stop learning.
Assessment and completion
We have a strong ethos of a student- and peer- centred training, and to honour this there is a great deal of flexibility about how each apprentice meets their own thresholds and trusts in their peer group to support and challenge them with regard to this. The final assesment for the Insight Herbalism stage is based on:
- Complete portfolio, including a thorough log of 180 hours of case studies.
- A series of final interviews by the peer group and course director.
- Unanimous peer review (the recommendation of fellow apprentices)
We maintain our own professional support network (Foundation for Insight Herbalism) and if the student would like to join another professional organisation ( e.g. NIMH, AHG, IRH, AMH or URHP ** ) we will support them by helping them explore and meet the criteria for individual accreditation and by offerings letters of support for them as a professional herbalist. Depening on the requirements of each indivual accrediation body this may involve extra tutorials and clinical hours – each Professional Organisation is slightly different, but we aim to support / guide you whichever way your path leads/
As of 2020 the sliding scale exchange for each year is £1200 – £1800 (completely up to the apprentice, but suggested to be around 7-8% of their annual income, some work exchange may be possible)
There are many ways to be a herbalist! For inspiration (and perhaps to add your suggestions) see this list. A different skill set (and level of skills) will be need for each, and we aim to guide you into gaining the skills you need for your vision of yourself.
* As each apprentice’s intention and vision for themselves as a ‘herbalist’ is different, it follows that their threshold for completion will also be different. At all points in the journey (and after completion) the most important thing is that the apprentice is working within their competence, and that they have a self/peer-reflective practice that can safeguard this.
** NIMH – National Institute of Medical Herbalists (my own professional body), AHG – American Herbalists Guild, IRH – Irish Register of Herbalists, AMH – Association of Master Herbalists, URHP – United Register of Herbal Practitioners (not limited to these). Memership of a professional body can bring many benefits but there is currently no legal obligation to join one if this is not your path.