Ethics of Practicing Aromatherapy in Massage Practice

Ethics of Practicing Aromatherapy or
Selling Aromatherapy Products in your massage practice.
Using aromatherapy can enhance our practice and provide another aspect of healing for clients. Before you start each session with a client, it is important to ask them directly if they would like you to use aromatherapy in the session. This is part of the process of Engaging a Client to participate in their healing session and is essential in creating strong boundaries within your practice. It is also necessary to be aware that not everyone likes smells and that if you are storing many different oils in your room, the mixture of scents can be overwhelming and even toxic. You are essentially violating a clients’ boundary with the use of essential oils without having their informed consent. Being aware of the affects we have on clients is important in starting and building a massage practice.

I had a client tell me a story about a bad experience with this situation. The client was referred by her MD for treatment of back pain to a massage therapist. The massage therapist had her room full of essential oils and proceeded to use them in the treatment. The client was led to believe that she was going to this person for a medical treatment and while aromatherapy can be used medically, she had no understanding of it as a client. She was overwhelmed by all the smells in the office and left feeling slightly ill and never went back to say the least.

We also need to be aware of how most people will not tell you the truth about what they need. They often come to us expecting us to know what is best for them and trust us to take care of them. They won’t speak up easily.

Selling Essential Oils to Clients

If you are considering selling aromatherapy products to your clients, please be aware of the ethical issues involved when selling products to clients. Clients will often be easily persuaded by us because they perceive us to have more knowledge than them or may also feel an obligation to us because we have provided a nurturing experience for them. This is called transference. When we try to combine this with selling oils (or any other products) we need to keep in mind whether we are selling this for our benefit or theirs. When we ask clients to purchase something, we are asking them to further trust us.

We can become more aware of how we influence clients and the issues involved with our practices through the process of supervision. You can find out more about supervision and start changing the profession by participating in a peer supervision group. The more conscious you become of yourselves, the more successful you will be in business!

Julie Onofrio, LMP