Jennifer Benetato, LCSW, LMT, shares how she incorporates the healing powers of essential oils in her practice.
I am a firm believer in the importance of creating a warm and inviting setting for the therapy experience to take place.
In my office, I have an essential oil diffuser that I have running throughout the day. My go-to blend is a combination of lavender, Roman chamomile, patchouli, sweet basil, sweet orange, and peppermint – specifically chosen for their calming effect.
I find that the subtle fragrance creates a warm, welcoming environment for my clients and helps to set the tone for the session.
During my initial session with every new client I take them on a sensory journey to help them become aware of their environment through their senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and kinesthetic). I do this to allow their nervous system a chance to settle into the space and into the room, and to make a clear transition between whatever happened before the session, and the work that we are about to engage in.
I believe that when clients return for future appointments and take in the fragrance of the room, their body-minds are cued to revisit the message that this is a place where they are invited to slow down and relax into what is often challenging process.
Sometimes I make the use of essential oils, and lavender in particular, more of a focal point by suggesting the client use fragrances in their home environment through a diffuser for use before bed for clients who have difficulty falling asleep, or on the go via a roll-on that they can grab whenever they are feeling especially stressed or anxious throughout the day.
Many people report that this simple tool helps them to make the decision to focus on their breathing and ride the wave of emotion rather than reach for a cigarette or junk food to interrupt the uncomfortable sensation they are experiencing.
It's important to emphasize precautions when using essential oils. I don't recommend clients take oils internally, and always stress the importance of using a pure, ethically sourced product.
It's also important not to overdo it: A little can go a long way, and sometimes less is more.
Lavender can be very soothing to an overworked nervous system, but there are times when it does more harm than good. Scents have a very powerful ability to trigger memory, and not everyone has a positive association with this fragrance, so it's always a good idea to check in and ask.