Tag Archives: Therapy


NDG 2017

Having attended the Permaculture Association National Diploma Gathering last weekend, I am now ready to start on my own Permaculture Diploma.

As part of the diploma, I have to do ten permaculture designs and my first few designs, in no particular order will be.

Redesigning an observation hive for the community orchard.

This design will address the problems that led to the comb collapsing  when the temperature was above 30C. The previous year temperatures had not been high enough for this to be a problem. As a result of the comb collapsing the bees left the hive.

Designing a presentation for next diploma gathering/convergence I attend around using the tools of Solution Focussed Brief Therapy when a project is stuck.

This will focus around the use of the Miracle Question” to move things on.

“If this project were not stuck what would be different?” Get as much detail about what the person with the stuck project/design would be doing differently.  Getting lots of detail is key in domains of feelings, behaviour, how project is talked about etc.

Then look at which bits of this are already happening. Can you do more of this? ….

Diploma Pathway.

This is one of the designs that most diploma apprentices do. It is a way to plan the work and learning needed for the diploma including how to access what is needed for other designs.

Willow Screen around Apiary.

This is a design I wrote an article about for Permaculture Magazine. Some more work needed on tweaking and maintenance.

Design around my Aromatherapy Practice.

Don’t know what shape this one will take yet so more to come later.


And what was that like for you?

Some years ago while working as a mental health nurse I had a client who had been hearing voices (mostly benign) since quite an early age. Mostly she would converse with them, silently, having learned quickly that taking about them would make people regard her with suspicion at best and at worst it would often lead to bullying.

This was in an adolescent in-patient unit and she had been seen in the community for a couple of years prior to being referred to us. One day, I asked her, “What was that like being different and not being able to talk about it?” The question led to tears but also a great sense of relief. She told me that she was not a naturally secretive person but that her experiences had made her very wary of who she would talk to about her experiences, not just of hearing voices but generally. This made me wonder among other things, “How often is paranoia among schizophrenics a learned thing and a means of protecting themselves?”

I was horrified that it had taken this long into her care before that question had been asked. (She told me that no one had ever asked that before.)

As an aromatherapist and massage practitioner, I often find myself being the first person who has asked that question or one very similar to it. I know that a number of my clients who come primarily because of mental health issues rather than physical things find that it is really important that they can share their experience. This also helps me in understanding them and choosing essential oils appropriately. This is not to say that I don’t sometimes say the wrong thing despite my therapy and counselling training. I do though often even mistakes can lead  to breakthroughs in therapy. What it does mean is that I am prepared to take the risk of asking the unasked question every so often.

If you are looking for a massage/aromatherapy session where perhaps what you really need is for someone to ask that question that allows you to say what is really going on give me a call on 07939273569 or email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com


How often should I have an aromatherapy massage?

Like many questions the answer to this is, “It depends.”


I have had clients come to my Cambridge/Trumpington practice weekly, fortnightly and monthly, monthly being the most common, though two of my current monthly clients would come weekly if they had more money to spare! Weekly would be my option if money and time were no object. However there may even be times where daily would be the ideal when dealing with an acute sleep or other problem. Massage and aromatherapy daily or weekly initially can resolve problems to the extent where monthly maintenance  is all that is then needed. It all depends on whether you see a treatment as a luxury or as a much needed therapy.

For those who would like the benefits of essential oils but can not afford treatments as often as they would like, the skin balm I make using beeswax, organic olive oil and essential oils is a good option for in between times. Used on the neck and forehead, it can be especially helpful for sleep problems. This can be made up with the same oils used during your massage treatment.

IMG_0016To buy skin balm or to talk about a massage treatment using organic essential oils and carrier oils, please phone 07939273569 or email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com

An alternative is to use the contact form from this site which gives me some information to think about prior to the appointment.


Warning given over children using complementary therapies

I heard this news item on the Today Programme on BBC Radio4 this morning and based on the facts as presented, the practitioner was clearly acting outside of their sphere of competence. In particular, the giving of high level Vitamin D supplements which according to some reports were above the maximum recommended adult dose. (The actual dose isn’t mentioned in the BBC report.)    For my own practice I am reminded of the importance of asking about not just conventional medical treatment but also any complementary/alternative therapies my clients might be taking.

Why is this important for aromatherapy? Well, partly because in an holistic practice I need to make sure I am not working against another therapist with my approach but also because just as some conventional medical treatments can cause side effects that can be exacerbated by some essential oils, the same is true of some complementary therapies as well. An example of this is skin photo-sensitivity. When using the oils that can cause it I always caution about not using sun-beds for twelve hours afterwards or going out in strong sunlight for the same length of time. (In practise none of my clients has yet admitted to using sun beds and at this time of year, in UK sunlight is unlikely to cause a problem unless the client has a particular sensitivity to start with.)

I also ask clients to tell other practitioners whether conventional or complementary/alternative about my work with them. Openness is I strongly believe the best way to avoid problems and to discover them. While if used according to professional association guidelines, essential oils are low risk, there is always the possibility of there being an interaction with a drug that has not been noted before.

As a practitioner of a therapy whose advocates have been less than diligent in scientifically researching all the claims made for it, perhaps I shouldn’t be saying this but while a search for,”camel milk” + “Autism” produced hundreds of results, I did not find any that provided what I would allow as evidence of its efficacy in treating the condition. Similarly, while I have no doubt that essential oils can have a psychological effect and that this may be helpful with some specific problems with some with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, I would never claim that Aromatherapy was a cure ofr Autism or anything else!

So if you are looking for cures, don’t phone 07939273569 or email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com




Planting Willow around the bee hives in Trumpington


A balance is something I try and achieve in my practice. A balance between giving massage, making skin balm/cream, looking after my bees who make the wax for the skin preparations and of course doing publicity, giving out leaflets, writing blog posts etc.

How does it work in practice? – A bit differently, one day I might see five clients one after another and the next day – zilch! Of course I could say to that fifth client who is feeling incredibly stressed but is too busy the following day, that unfortunately I am fully booked. Sometimes I do that but it tends to be when I really don’t have a space I can fit them into.

Outside of that I believe that my life style needs to fit with what I see as an holistic therapy. We grow most of our own fruit and veg, keep chickens for eggs and occasionally meat and I also cut up much of the wood that goes to feed our fire during the winter, saving tree surgeons from having to take the wood further afield to get rid of it and in some cases saving them from having to pay to have it disposed of! Last year we were given an apple tree that had been cut down that was over two foot in diameter. While grateful for the wood, it also felt a little sad to me that a tree over one hundred years old had been cut down.

I also help in the local community orchard a hundred yards from my back gate by cutting down trees when the bird cherry needs thinning out. This allows other trees to get more light.  There is something very satisfying when cutting a tree down goes exactly according to plan. To me, it is important that living a life in harmony with nature is a part of my practice and that the two go together and I hope to be talking about this later this year either at my professional association’s AGM or at a conference they are organising.


Recovery from abuse.

As I write this, I am coming to terms with the fact that my country will be adding to the number of people affected by acts of war. Some of these will be abused in the sense of the word I used when working as a psychiatric nurse with adolescents. However being forced to flee one’s homeland and having parents and loved ones killed by bombs/missiles is also abuse.

Having got that off my chest, I can continue.

When I worked with young adults between the ages of 18-21 many of them had been abused either physically or sexually. While working at Northgate Clinic an innovative medical director supported my training in aromatherapy and massage.

My experience was that many of the young people there found massage and aromatherapy helpful in learning to love their bodies again, and learning that touch can be a positive thing. There, unlike now I  always had a chaperone present with me in the room. There was something special about seeing young adults growing and learning alternatives to cutting their arms or other parts of their bodies as a way of coping with emotional problems.

I saw this happen again and again, many if not most of them learning the skills that would prevent them becoming long term users of the mental health system. This was not just down to massage and aromatherapy. The young people involved, all had individual therapy every week and group therapies of different sorts several times a week.

Essential oils I used in this environment included Bergamot, one of the best oils for depression and Jasmine which I used for emotional healing. I used many other oils depending on the exact problems and symptoms the young person presented with. As well as the massage and aromatherapy, another part of their healing was often that I was not repulsed by their bodies.

Many feared that others could see what had been done to them as if it were written on their foreheads, Many had been told that it was their own fault for having attractive sexual bodies. (Some had this as their reason for cutting themselves, others became anorexic believing that they could avoid becoming adults in this way.

I see some adult clients who have been through similar experiences when young. Two have said that they wished they could have accessed the type of unit where I worked when they were younger. Others have said that they were not ready to make the changes they have made till they were older.

I feel very fortunate that I have been able to be a part of so many people’s healing and that they have trusted me enough to let me help them. I am also aware that not everyone would choose the routes those I have helped have chosen. Some find a different way of coping and sadly some never really find a way of resolving what has been done to them.

I urge those who come in contact with such people to avoid judging them as whatever therapy training if any is involved, acceptance is what makes the most difference.

This brings me back to where I started. If we were better at accepting others,and previous generations in the West had been better at it, perhaps we wouldn’t now be bombing those we are unable to accept.