Friday, October 24, 2008

ACHS in Washington Day 2

Dorene Petersen with Nat 211 student Scott Swanson from Austin, Texas.

Day 2: October 24, 2008

Before Friday’s lecture schedule begins, the AHG hosts a Welcome Symposium for all participants. For those unaware, AHG President Aviva Romm talks about the importance of the Herbalist Health Trust, a resource for AHG members and nonmembers who, like many today, do not have health insurance. The Trust, a resource pool based on donations from the herbalist community, subsidizes herbalists struggling under the financial, emotion, and physical burden of disease. Although not a substitute for health insurance, the Trust represents the importance of one of the Symposium’s major themes: compassion.

Herbalists may differ in opinions and experience; however, compassion for patients, for herbalism, and above all for humanity, remains a unifying factor. Chanchal Cabrera, the Faculty Chair of Botanical Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster, invokes the anniversary of the UN Human Rights Treaty to remind the audience of the importance of this. (To read the Treaty, visit

After the first lecture session, Dorene and Lauren return to the ACHS information booth, where they meet several ACHS students attending the conference. This is a unique and special opportunity to receive person-to-person feedback about personal experience with ACHS courses, as well as application of the information in diverse settings around the country.

Later in the evening there is an informal, student-led discussion before the Herbal Bazaar. Several students share personal stories revealing the challenges unique to a new and/or developing career. Several students touch on similar issues, such as: What is the role of an herbalist within the context of an hour session; what are the limits of what you can and can’t say; and, interestingly, is it okay to turn clients away. Although there is no one, single answer, Pamela Fischer, Director of Ohlone Herbal Center in Berkeley, California, reminds students to be a good person first. That simple. To be a good herbalist, it is important to be a good person, to have good intention, even if that means turning a client away to serve their greatest good.

This conversation brings an interesting, although potentially difficult, idea forward: An herbalist does not serve their client by serving their own ego. Do you agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think.

Students want to know: What are some of your tried and true tips for leading a productive, informative session without asking leading questions?

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