When I worked at in-patient child and adolescent mental health (CAMH) units, it was not unusual for parents to ask staff if we couldn’t just change the way a young person’s mind worked. Sometimes, particularly if the young person was particularly disruptive or on a particularly destructive path, I or another member of staff might be asked to, “sort your patient out!” I would even sometimes be asked if I couldn’t do something with my aromatherapy in this regard. (This not withstanding the fact that the ethos of the therapeutic community unit where I practised aromatherapy was to avoid the use of the heavy handed psychiatric drugs except as a very last resort.)
So, what can massage and aromatherapy do to change the way someone thinks?
At the IFPA (my professional body) conference at the weekend, I heard from someone who worked in schools and one of the things they did was to have a vapouriser in the cloakroom when the children came in which used Frankincense oil which was found to greatly reduce the number of incidents involving aggression during the day. The project also gave young people who had been excluded from school, 5ml oil bottles with cotton wool in then with a few drops of essential oils that they found helpful that they could sniff when they found something difficult. – This over a number of schools has resulted in zero exclusions whereas prior to that these were commonplace.
What I would say is that for individual work on psychological issues whatever the age of the client, just as in psychotherapy, they have to want something to be different and ideally want to change how they are in the world. (I would guess anyone who has done any sort of psychotherapeutic work with clients has had people who say they would be all right if it were not for other people!) – Of course, in the case of those being abused whatever their age, they would certainly be a lot better off without the abuse even if it didn’t solve all their problems.
So what specific benefits can Aromatherapy provide for someone who is unhappy about the way their mind works and wants to change it?
Firstly, almost without exception, those who come for massage and aromatherapy are calmer after a session. Mindfulness is always helpful for those trying to change their minds.
Rose oil encourages acceptance after loss or emotional injury. Pine is helpful with confidence. There are many other oils that are helpful with just about every psychological condition but just as with psychotherapy this does depend on the client’s readiness to change. However once ready essential oils can make a real difference to the speed of change and can often be the trigger that enables the change to start showing.