Mental Health First Aid or Emotional CPR?

Starting next year a programme starts that aims to have one in ten of the population Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trained. This is important for therapists even those who see clients predominantly for physical conditions as when in a vulnerable state for one reason other issues often come to mind. I saw a link to this on a Facebook group I frequent and was interested to read a response from someone who found the MHFA approach very medical model in its approach though that is not immediately obvious on the MHFA website that I looked at.

The person who responded was I think saying clearly which of the two approaches she would prefer. Emotional CPR  as described is certainly a person centred approach with the CPR standing for Connecting, emPowering and Revitalising.

I would hope though I have not read this yet that both approaches also say something about how the person responding to emotional distress can look after themselves. I also suspect that in reality there is a fair amount of overlap between the two approaches.

What does all this mean for me as an aromatherapist? Firstly, I need to respond to my clients’ distress when it occurs in a way that makes them feel heard. This is more than just saying, “I hear what your are saying.” I need to respond  to both the emotional and the factual content of what I hear and see which may range from my own emotional response to what I have heard to something like, “That must be really confusing/hurtful/painful etc. for you.”

I might also choose oils such as Rose, Jasmine, or Frankincense that I know from both training and experience are often helpful  in emotional distress. The nature of the distress may affect the massage I do or in some cases even whether I do massage or not. In some cases where comfort is what is required, I might do a massage where I do more holding and do more work using the whole of my arms rather than just my hands. The most important thing is that my choices help convey the message to the client that I understand something of their distress and care about them enough to want to help.This has been foremost in my mind with three friends who have come to me for massage this year following emotional trauma and also with a number of my clients whom I haven’t met before their first appointment.

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