Now that I’m a for-real grown-up with a for-real (albeit rather part-time) job in my own for-real office, I thought I should clear up some misconceptions about what I actually do.
Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is not scented candles, bubble bath, and air fresheners. It is not witchcraft or hippie voodoo. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for improvement and maintenance of health and beauty. It is very scientific, but it is also considered an art. Essential oils can be applied topically (for example, you could drop lavender essential oil on an infected cut instead of using Polysporin) or aromatically (meaning you inhale the oils and the molecules get into your bloodstream via the lungs and into your brain via the limbic system).
When I first started experimenting with essential oils, I was hugely skeptical. But after a few months of trying to stump them, I finally had to admit that they really do work in many wonderful ways. That’s when I headed back to school to learn the how’s and why’s. In the course of my studies, I learned a lot about proper dilution and blending, and now I have my own line of essential oils and products!
Next came Aromatherapy Massage. Sweet, naïve, little me had no idea that the term “aromatherapy massage” is used much more broadly than the clinical, therapeutic technique that I learned at school. I have had a very rude awakening to that reality. And oh what fun it is to explain to creepy guys that no, there will be no fancy finish. No, not even for a generous tip. That is not the kind of massage that I do.
Nor am I a Registered Massage Therapist.
Aromatherapy Massage focuses on the nervous system, with some lymphatic drainage mixed in. There is some musculoskeletal work, and it is indeed very relaxing, but it’s not the deep kneading that one usually expects from an RMT. Specific essential oils are used depending on the client’s health needs (pain management, insomnia, digestive problems, stress…). It is a full-body massage and it takes an hour.
Reflexology. This does not involve me hitting your knee with a little rubber hammer to see how far your foot kicks out. You and my children can ask as many times as you want, but I still don’t have one of those little rubber hammers. Reflexology is the stimulation of reflex points in your feet that correspond to all the organs and systems throughout the body. Gentle pressure on the foot stimulates nerve messages and blood flow to the part of the body that matches that spot on the foot, thereby encouraging the body to heal itself of various ailments. All the areas of both feet are covered during treatment, so it feels much like a relaxing foot massage. If there are specific health concerns, those corresponding reflexes can be worked a little more and a few subsequent treatments would probably be beneficial.
There are a bunch of other modalities that are often associated with alternative health care. Reiki, tarot cards, crystal readings etc. I will not be adding those types of treatments to my practice. As a Christian, I have a firm desire not to open myself or my clients to spiritual influence that is not directly from Creator God. I know there are a lot of spiritual people who feel I’m being too judgmental or restrictive. I have, in fact, treated many people who are very interested in Reiki and the like. They are still welcome to my care; I just won’t be offering those services. I need to draw a line, so that’s where I’m drawing it. I also want fellow Christians to know that my office is a safe place for them to come for the treatments I do offer, without being pressured to participate in treatments that they may not feel 100% comfortable with.
So there you have it, folks. That is what I do. Someday when I don’t have to drive the carpool at 2:30, I may actually be able to do it for a full, for-real, grown-up workday!