What Happens in an Aromatherapy Consultation?

Jun 7, 06:05 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

Many people are intrigued with the idea of having a custom aromatherapy blend prepared for them, but don't know where to go or how to start the process. The first step is to find a qualified professional aromatherapist, and the second is to provide enough information for her to work her art and science. This information comes from an aromatherapy consultation. The structure of a consultation will vary somewhat, depending upon a practitioner's education, experience, professional licensure and specialty areas. I base mine on the type of aromatherapy practiced in England, which is the model for most American aromatherapists.

I require an in-depth consulation before I do any custom blending, unless I already have a long term ongoing relationship with a client. Although I'm often approached via phone or e-mail to do customized blends, I won't create a synergy for a complete stranger, nor will I give specific essential oil recommendations unless they commit to a formal consultation. It is unethical, unprofessional and ineffective to randomly combine essential oils for someone who has provided little or no personal information, is usually unfamiliar with clinical aromatherapy, and is often unclear on their wellness goals or expectations. It is also potentially very dangerous to their health.

New clients fill out a consent form and a detailed health profile. This includes information on current symptoms, previous illnesses, general health history, and any medications or supplements taken. This is necessary for me not only to establish the client's areas of concern, but to determine whether certain essential oils are contraindicated by their medical conditions or drug regimens. If they are experiencing any physical discomfort, I will also have them diagram their aches or pains on an anatomy chart.

Next comes an interview in which the forms are reviewed with the client. We talk about their experiences with and expectations of aromatherapy. Since I practice on a wholistic basis, I will also ask about stress levels, sleep habits, and typical dietary intake. Since there is often a connection between the body and emotions, I will usually inquire about the client's general emotional state, as well as how they were feeling prior to the onset of their illness or medical condition. During the interview, I also make note of physical appearance and body language, which can provide strong clues regarding a person's physical and emotional health.

Since I've also trained as a bodyworker, I can obtain a lot of information by getting hands on with a new client. My consultations include 30 to 40 minutes of foot reflexology, which is used in British aromatherapy to pinpoint problem areas and possible patterns of dysfunction. This relaxing therapy is often a person's first introduction to essential oils, and even a half hour of reflexology combined with appropriate oils can be very pleasurable and surprisingly restorative. While reflexing the client's feet, I am also assessing their bioelectric field for any imbalances.

At the end of our meeting, I answer any questions which haven't already been addressed during our hour together. Based on the information I've collected, an overall picture emerges detailing the client's physical, emotional, and occasionally even spiritual imbalances. Over the next several days I develop 2 or 3 aromatic inhalation blends or topical synergies to address the client's most important issues or concerns, ideally including a blend for their particular constitutional makeup. After the client has been using their aromatherapy synergies for approximately 3 weeks, they come in for a 30 minute reflexology follow up and assessment.

Regular daily use of the blends is important to achieve optimum results. While minor or acute problems will often resolve in a matter of a few weeks, chronic issues may take several months or a year to address, depending on the duration of the condition, person's motivation and overall health.

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