Tag Archives: Massage


Top reasons for having an Aromatherapy Massage.

Knowing why my clients come to me is important in making sure I keep a stock of the best oils to help them. My two guides to this are firstly and most importantly the clients whom I actually see or who consult with me via Skype.

The second is the enquiries that are generated by my website and the pages that get the most hits. This year because I did a promotion for the page, back massage has received the most hits and don’t get me wrong, a significant proportion of my clients do come for issues with their backs, especially if  you include neck and shoulders in that. But by far the biggest proportion of my clients come for issues to do with depression and anxiety. I would also say that most of these have depression or anxiety because of significant traumatic life events.  I see a few clients where genetic factors play a much larger part but they are the minority.

Bergmot, Bitter Orange and other citrus oils are a must working with these clients. They are particularly good for the client who feels stuck. They are also good for some of the physical manifestations of depression and anxiety such as lack of appetite and constipation. Rose is another oil I would not be without. It soothes anxiety and is particularly good for those dealing with grief be that for a childhood they didn’t  have or the loss of a close friend or loved  one. Frankincense completes my first line triad for depression, in particular if agitation or anxiety are also present. Both Roman and German Chamomile can also be good for this.

Once a client comes to me these oils are also good for building self confidence and helping the client to really believe that they are worth it. This last is probably the biggest barrier to depressed and anxious individuals coming for massage. They give themselves the message that they don’t deserve good things and often blame themselves even when the blame is  patently with another, e.g. an abuser.

Interestingly, I find that at least one in ten of the clients that are depressed also have back pain.

Do follow the links on this site and get in touch if you would like to discuss the possibility of having an aromatherapy massage treatment for anxiety, depression, back issues or anything else.



Winter Returns

Just as many of us are gearing up for spring this weekend looks to bring a return of sub-zero temperatures and the Met Office has a yellow warning out for snow in our area. Indeed, the cherry blossom on the street tree opposite my window as I type is in full bloom but the temperature is low enough that none of my bees will be venturing out to take advantage of it!


Cherry  is not a species where one can easily buy the essential oil despite websites giving that impression. These are fragrance oils and are not produced by the distillation process used for essential oils and indeed most of them have  artificially produced chemicals in their make up.

What does the change in the weather mean for our health?

Firstly it means we need to be more careful as even those much younger than I can slip and injure themselves or even worse suffer a car crash due to the conditions. It also means we are more vulnerable to infections so keep using those essential oils, particularly Tea Tree which can help fight infection. We should also warm up more before doing any exercise – that one particularly for my allotment colleagues! After all next Saturday is traditionally the day to plant our potatoes.

For myself it means another week or so before I take some honey from my bees. – I left them with a lot to get through the winter and paradoxically in a colder winter they eat less of their stores as they aren’t out flying so much.

IMG_2017-10-30_10_12_59It also means I will be making sure the rooms I use for massage and aromatherapy are kept very warm. At home the woodstove will be in use and at the Salus clinic I will make sure I am in in plenty of time to make sure the radiators are turned on.

So rest assured that if you book an aromatherapy massage, you will not be cold during the treatment. Indeed, I tend to err on the side of caution and make the room so it is a little too hot for myself. This does make it important to drink some water after the massage, both for my clients and for myself!



Clients as Experts

This is a subject I keep coming back to in my mind and thinking even when I don’t write about it. On the physical side, it is the client who knows all the little things they do to avoid feeling pain from an injury that has become chronic, sitting in a particular chair, turning in one direction rather than another  whenever possible, leading with one foot rather than another when climbing or descending stairs. (This may be different in each case.)

In the same way, the anxious client usually knows which situations they avoid and the things they say to themselves to get through difficult situations. The client with PTSD knows at least some of the likely triggers for them. They know which people to have around them to reduce the chances of being triggered and they usually though not always know what the initial event or events that led to the trauma is or are.

As a practitioner, it is my job to get as much of this information from the client as possible. This makes  it less easier to come up with a clear formulation as to how to proceed. Some  clients will happily strip off in front of me while others would be made too anxious and I would always leave the room. (My default position unless they start getting undressed before I have the chance to say I am leaving the room while they do so.

Some clients want a deep tissue massage to work out tensions in muscles whereas others need something which is much more nurturing in nature. and unless I can really empower them to find their internal expert, I won’t be able to choose the oils that are the best combination for them or do the best massage for them.


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.




Health or Illness

For over 30 years I worked in the National Health Service and one of the things that really struck me was how, apart from my obstetrics placement and even during some of that, I was primarily working with people who were already ill and working to resolve that rather than working to keep people healthy in the first place.

One of the common criticisms of complementary health is that it mainly treats the, “worried well.” While to some extent this is true, there are also many who find regular massage, osteopathy or other therapies something that helps prevent them from needing to see their GP or hospital doctor. This is why massage is used  so much by sports women and men  ranging from gymnastics to soccer and rugby. Others have massage and aromatherapy for their mental health.

That is not to say that massage, aromatherapy and other complementary therapies can not help after there is a problem but how much better to prevent a problem reaching the stage of needing medical intervention? Almost inevitably this is a far better course of action.

So if you want to see how an aromatherapy massage can help you either stay healthy or regain health, why not contact me on

dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com or





Change Your Mind?

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.


Making Aromatherapy Work for You

I often hear friends and others saying that this or that therapy doesn’t work for them.  I have heard this said of Massage, Osteopathy, CBT, Psychoanalysis  Acupuncture and quite a few others.

Now clearly, the areas I can address why therapy might or might not work are Massage and Aromatherapy, though I suspect the reasons for other therapies not working may  be similar. Some years ago,  I read in a psychotherapy journal some research that found the relationship between the therapist and the client made far more difference to the outcome than the type of therapy. To me this makes a lot of sense given that my personal experience of working in therapy from both sides is that where the relationship is good, the therapy is much more effective. Indeed, when I worked with adolescents in in-patient mental health units, there were some patients, I formed a strong relationship with and was able to do a lot of effective work with and others whom any work I did was of little effect.  Others on the teams I worked with found they did more effective work with different patients from myself.

This doesn’t make my approach or theirs right or wrong, just different. However, there are some common threads that I believe are important. All of us who worked effectively really listened to those we worked with. Not only did we listen but we respected what we were told. This is a cornerstone of my work in Massage and Aromatherapy. It doesn’t matter that a client has been told by a GP, pain clinic or whoever that their pain is all in the mind. The pain is real, whatever the cause.

With physical pain, I believe that psychological factors are usually more important than physical ones in improving matters whether or not there is an identified physical cause but if I don’t believe my client, I am not going to be able to help them.

The other cornerstone of my practice besides a knowledge of the oils I use and of Massage is Mindfulness.  by practising this, I can give better attention to my clients both during the consultation and during the actual massage. It is an interesting though not particularly pleasant exercise to be massaged by someone who is being mindful and by someone who is doing mental arithmatic at the time. When being a client it is very easy to tell the difference.

I also encourage my clients to be mindful during a massage. That way they can tell me more quickly if something is not right for them. I also believe that even if they don’t have anything to tell me about how I am massaging them, it still helps them to get more out of the massage. I find these two cornerstones of listening and mindfulness to be if anything even more true of my Massage and Aromatherapy Practice than when I worked in Mental Health in the NHS. This holds for working with both the physical and the psychological, the latter making up eighty percent or more of my work.

So, make sure the therapist you choose is one you are comfortable with. If you are not comfortable with a male therapist for massage don’t come to me. If you are not comfortable working with a male, maybe don’t even come to me for a consultation to choose oils to use in a balm at home. Also tell  your therapist what you are and what you are not comfortable with. I had one client who had been bought the massage as a present who was uncomfortable with much of her body being seen by a male therapist so when she turned over, I left the room. Any therapist should respect their client’s sensitivities. Sometimes it is OK to challenge them but only if this can be done in a respectful way. It is not our job to make our clients see the world in our way!