The Aromatherapeutic Encounter
Gill Farrer-Halls’ ‘The Spirit In Aromatherapy’ is an interesting book which indeed covers an area which does not yet have a flood of books in the niche.
To be honest though, I would say this ls much less a book about aromatherapy and the essential oils, though they do figure, it is more a book about the nature of the therapeutic relationship itself, from a bodyworker, specifically one who works with aromatics, perspective.
And as such, it is very welcome
The field of aromatherapy literature is well supplied – indeed, one could be forgiven for saying, oversupplied, with books both for the lay-reader and the practitioner, many of them merely repeating what was said before by somebody else.
Some of the more specialist books written for professionals, by professionals, do indeed have more unique and interesting information to give. There is a tendency to view the oils purely as chemistry however, as aromatherapy has moved itself away from ‘fluffy feel-good’ and sought to engage with the phytopharmacology of the oils.
Practitioners also know, however that what happens within sessions may be far more than could be explained by the protocols of ‘English aromatherapy’, with highly diluted oils applied in massage. And, indeed more than can be explained by the physiological benefits of massage.
The missing part of the equation is ‘the placebo’ of the healing response. I don’t mean this pejoratively – to say ‘the proportion that would get better without intervention’ is to fail to respect the nature of that ‘would have got better’
All healing interventions, whether by Big Pharma or by modalities which work, even if the precise mechanism of their working is not understood, employ and use placebo – it is just that the precise tools differ.
Farrer-Halls, in this book is looking at the relationship between practitioner and client; if you like the ‘sacred space’ of connection. She is a practising Buddhist, and offers the idea of approaching the client with empathetic awareness, intuition, born out of good prior learning, of course, but still, being present within sessions with open-minded, open-hearted attention.
Although all training in the UK has ‘the therapeutic relationship’ as part of the syllabus, it is often far less central than it needs to be.
There has arisen, within some bodywork modalities, primarily because some of their practitioners came not from a prior background as bodyworkers, but a prior background as psychotherapists, a much more subtle awareness of the importance of the relationship itself, and the spaciousness and sensitivity the practitioner needs to bring
This, despite the exercises to develop sensitivity and intuition by the practitioner into the nature of their oils, and what one might call the ‘psychospiritual aspect’ of them, is, I think, the real end of what Farrer-Halls is laying out in this book, which is a thoughtful, and well-written one.
The attentive reader will not be learning so much about the oils themselves, in following the exercises to develop intuition towards them which Farrer-Halls suggests, they will be developing finesse in intuition itself, finesse, presence and consciousness about the process work which undoubtedly happens in attentive hands-on work, making it far more potent than just the releasing of muscular knots, the improvement of circulation and lymphatic drainage, and fluffy ‘pamper’
I was delighted to receive this as a copy for review on digital download, from the publishers Jessica Kingsley/Singing Dragon. As said on another review, this publishing house produces serious, thoughtful, books on health and well-being, rather than flaky, irresponsible or let’s cash-in on vulnerable people’s insecurities ones.