I don’t know what the balance is like for aromatherapists working in other places but I would say that 75% of my clients come primarily for the psychological rather than the physical effects of my aromatherapy massage treatments.
Of course the two are inextricably linked and when you get depression for instance alongside a chronic medical condition each affects the other and it is often impossible to tease out which came first.
Even when someone with a chronic medical condition that has a profound effect on what they can do, while depression is common, it isn’t inevitable and while there is some research being done on it, resilience and why some people have it to such a degree while others seem totally lacking in it needs much more study. If we can promote resilience rather than just treating problems, we might end up finding we can save a lot of money and effort.
This is a field where I believe, Aromatherapy can play a great role. I recently had a cold which turned into a chest infection. I recovered in a week whereas most people I know who have had it this winter/spring have taken a minimum of 4 weeks to get over it. At the moment, my evidence that aromatherapy is responsible for this is anecdotal. However in Grasse in Southern France, none of the perfumiers reportedly, ever went down with the plague despite it being common in the area. I have also heard other aromatherapists say that they suffered much less with colds/flu since starting their practice.
When it comes to they psychological, there is a lot of evidence about smells affecting mood and many or even most find oils such as Bergamot and lemon uplifting, Frankincense calming, sweet orange relaxing etc. However such effects are individual. Lavender is one that despite most of my clients enjoying it, a significant number really don’t like it. Two of these have been related to them associating it with elderly relatives dying but most can not put it down to any experience they remember. I do not probe for memories or lack of them in these cases but sometimes they are volunteered.
I sometimes suspect there is a memory behind a dislike of a particular oil but often remind myself that as Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
With this in mind I will often let clients smell a number of the oils that I think might be useful to them and discard any that they take an active dislike to. I also note which ones they like as it guides me in my choice of others.