Sunita Teckchand
June 4, 2024, 3:25 a.m.

Sunita Teckchand: Revolutionizing Holistic Healthcare Through Aromatherapy

Welcome to an insightful conversation with Sunita Teckchand, a seasoned clinical aromatherapist and integrated holistic therapist with over 27 years of expertise in alternative medicine and complementary healthcare systems. In this exclusive interview, Sunita graciously shares her remarkable journey, from her early life in Hong Kong to becoming a pioneering figure in Dubai's holistic therapy landscape. 

Through her experiences founding The Holistic Institute and establishing The Holistic Alternatives, an innovative online digital training platform, Sunita has not only shaped the aromatherapy scene but has also empowered countless individuals worldwide with the knowledge and practice of clinical aromatherapy. Join us as we delve into her inspiring story, explore her impactful contributions to the field, and gain invaluable insights into her vision for the future of holistic healthcare.

Early Life and Education

Tell us something about you, your early life, and your education.

My name is Sunita Teckchand, and I am a qualified clinical aromatherapist and integrated holistic therapist with over 27 years of experience in alternative medicine and complementary healthcare systems.

I moved to Dubai from Hong Kong (my place of birth) in 1997 to give my family a better quality of life. At that time, I realized that holistic therapies were not recognized here and there was a void in aromatherapy except for a few places to buy essential oils. I realized this was a niche market for my background and decided to open a first-of-its-kind aromatherapy center in 1999 which I ran for 9 years before I burnt out. I got a specialized rehabilitation license from the authorities, which helped me treat men and women equally.

After selling the center I took a sabbatical for a year to recover and decided to open The Holistic Institute in JLT in 2010. A proper adult education center teaching alternative therapy with IFPA and ITEC qualifications and diplomas. I ran that for 4 years until the authorities changed some regulations that did not support me, and I shut the institute in 2014.

I then began traveling to Hong Kong and London to offer my services and teachings by conducting seminars, hands-on workshops, and more. This went on for several years until COVID-19 hit in 2020. However, in 2018 I decided to create an online digital teaching platform solely emphasizing on a level 4/5 clinical aromatherapy diploma. This is still running today, and we have several students on the course completing their diplomas and getting accreditation from The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists UK.

Earlier on when I had moved to Dubai, I created my own brand of pure organic essential oils and base oils under the brand ‘eSSensuals’, which I still sell today. Students receive a 15% discount if they purchase the products while studying the diploma course. These oils are available, and anyone can order them on 

During my early years, I dipped my fingers into many different businesses until I joined my husband in the corporate world and worked with him until we moved to Dubai. Studying in school was not my forte, I completed my O levels and started working at age 16 as I wanted to earn and travel the world.

I came about aromatherapy in Hong Kong when my sister introduced me to a compassionate aromatherapist who helped treat my bad back. From then onwards I did not look back, I decided to dedicate my life to learning this science, as it supported me so well in my healing.

Business Overview

Business Overview and Market Presence

Tell us about the business and its presence in the target market

The Holistic Alternatives is an online digital training program, where we teach diploma courses in clinical aromatherapy accredited with IFPA. Students sign up for a course that relates to what they want to study, once payment is received the course is immediately open for them to start.

It really is a student-based platform, where one can study on the go, leave and enter anytime. Attempt quiz papers when they are ready and send in their assignments once completed. The course is panned out in modules, you must complete one module to move to the next, and so on.  Finally, they must hand in their case studies and attempt the final exam paper online. Everything is time-based and there is only one attempt, so students must be 100% ready to do their test papers and exams.

The curriculum comprises of theory in aromatherapy. They learn from start to end how it began and where we are today. They study 66 essential oil profiles in detail and 22 base oils. There is anatomy/physiology/pathology to complete, professional development, and business awareness as part of the syllabus.

We do also have short courses for students who just want to create some awareness in this field. For short courses, students receive a ‘Certificate of Completion’.

When it comes to practical skills like massage, reflexology, and manual lymphatic drainage, students can top up upon completion or during their course period to learn practical applications, this is if they live in UAE. We also teach spas and individual student’s practical skills if they are interested and have no prior experience.

Growth and Expansion Plans

What are the other growth and expansion plans you have in the pipeline?

Being a digital platform there is always room for growth. We add new courses to the platform regularly. We have now applied for NAHA (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) curriculum, which is a US-based association. In the future, we will have other affiliations and look forward to upgrading the curriculum to advance clinical aromatherapy.

Reflecting on the Year

How has the year been for your company?

Honestly, this year has been a bit quiet, since after COVID a lot of students wanted face-to-face learning instead of online.  However, it still works with students overseas who only want online training.

We keep looking at ways to draw students to this field by doing short Zoom webinars, discussions on career advancement, and more.

Competitive Market Offering    

What does your business offer as per the current competitive market?

So far, we are the only ones in the UAE market offering this type of online training with a full complete curriculum of 800+ hours and multiple short courses.

Focus on Research

Focus on Research and Innovation

Tell us about the company’s focus and investment in research and innovation.

Research is our number one goal. Without research for example into the sustainability of essential oils, we would not be able to explain to students why essential oils like Sandalwood and Rosewood are almost extinct.

Our focus is education and to make sure we send out professional aromatherapists into the industry who can take care of their clients in a safe environment and offer good healthcare and recovery. The end goal is the client’s well-being and to make them understand that nature's pharmacy is natural and works. Not saying that the pharmaceutical industry is wrong, but it complements our work as professional aromatherapists.

Advice for Start-Ups

Any tips for start-ups looking to get into a similar pathway?

Make sure you create the right type of syllabus when teaching any program, that is if you want to teach online.

Make the program user-friendly and easy for any layperson to complete. Not everyone is computer savvy.

Have all your materials and research papers in order as students tend to ask a lot of questions and you as the provider must act immediately with the right explanation.

Create manuals that students can download and print to study.

Of course, there are many things to consider when teaching digitally.

Compiled by Sunita Teckchand
Clinical Aromatherapist MNAHA MIFPA
Board member and Trustee of IFPA
External Examiner for IFPA

As we conclude this enlightening interview with Sunita Teckchand, it's evident that her passion for aromatherapy and holistic healthcare has driven her to remarkable achievements. From pioneering aromatherapy centers to spearheading innovative online training platforms, Sunita continues to revolutionize the industry with her expertise and dedication. Her commitment to research, education, and professional standards sets a commendable benchmark for aspiring therapists and seasoned practitioners alike. To stay updated on Sunita's latest endeavours, courses, and insights into holistic wellness, visit The Holistic Alternatives website and connect with her on LinkedIn. Join us in embracing the transformative power of clinical aromatherapy and embark on a journey towards holistic health and wellbeing.

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