School of Intuitive Herbalism

Learning from the plants directly

Currently (2019) the Apprenticeship is full. However we are exploring ways to open out this work more for supporting those who are either working professionally or working towards this in the form of residential immersion classes – keep in touch as this develops!

The text below gives a brief overview of the Apprenticeship. For those attending an Introduction or Immersion class who are interested in taking their study further we have a full course overview and can make time to discuss the Apprenticeship in more detail.

Starting in 2015, those who have completed the Foundation Year have the possibility of developing their skills professionally, such that they become skilled, safe and competent to support others with herbs. The nominal time scale for a full training is seven years, though the ideal (as with all the work we do) is that the apprenticeship is highly student centred and self-guided.

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 first four year’s are broadly themes around the traditional elements (Air, Fire, Earth, Water) and an exploration of each from medical, emotional, somatic and spiritual perspectives. 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.

The apprenticeship is growing organically as it happens; currently the years are taking the form:

– First year is the Foundation Year ‘Dreaming‘, a safe space to build a relationship with your inner landscape and learn how to learn from the plants directly through experience, journeying and self-awareness practice.

– Second year is more structured – ‘Orientation‘ where we start to focus the skills learnt in the first year and explore them within the context and vision of ourselves as healers. By the end of this year it is hoped that everyone has a clearer vision of their direction and journey as a herbal apprentice and the tools, contacts and network to help them on this journey.

– The following years are ‘Journey-person‘ years, a name denoting a threshold that can be continued for as long as the apprentice wants and needs. Each apprentice will have started exploring their own practice (with support) and working to share their herb knowledge with other people in a context appropriate to style of herbalism. There is more focus of weaving real life case studies into your herb dreaming and the ability to support insights through research, knowledge of traditional therapeutics and clinical/medical knowledge.

– The Final year (to be decided as appopriate between Apprentice and Tutor) will be geared towards reviewing and completing the apprentices portfolio, consolidating their process so far and checking for gaps in their understanding of professional practice, safety, herbal knowledge and therapeutics.

– 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.

– A threshold for completion can be determined by the apprentice themselves*, supported and guided by myself, their peer group and one other herbalist who has been following and supporting their work. Completion is likely to be on a basis of

  • A series of final interviews.
  • Peer review (the recommendation of fellow apprentices)
  • Letters of recomendation from people they have helped/guided/taught/supported/treated
  • Complete portfolio, including a minimum of 300 hours logged case studies, mapping their journey.

If the student aims to join a 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.

As of 2017 the sliding scale exchange for each year is £1000 – £1500 (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.