Today’s massage therapy market is inundated with private practices, making it necessary for massage therapists to develop ways of separating themselves from the pack. Adding aromatherapy to one’s list of menu specialties can help accomplish just that, and clients will thank you for it.

The basic concepts of aromatherapy have been around for centuries. Today, companies have modernized the practice while still keeping with its natural holistic approach.

There’s a good chance you already use some form of aromatherapy in your practice without realizing it. Scented candles are one of the most common forms of aromatherapy used. Scented massage oils, which incorporate essential oils, are also a common use. So if you’re already using the fringes of the technique, why not make it an addition to your practice? Many aromatherapists typically recommend you begin using one to three essential oils and mastering their use for your clients’ needs.

One of the easiest ways to diversify your knowledge in aromatherapy is through home-study courses. A quick Internet search of aromatherapy home-study courses returns many links for schools throughout the country. Such aromatherapy home-study courses available include aromatherapy facial massage, foundations of clinical aromatherapy, plant language, herbal studies and essential oil education.

But before taking your home-study course, you might want to experiment with what you have already learned. Recent studies have said aromatherapy can help with test-taking stress; more specifically, by using inhalers infused with rosemary and lavender essential oils.

That study measured the effects of the two essential oils on about 40 graduate nursing students from Florida Atlantic University. During post-exam discussions, the students reported that the rosemary aromatherapy was preferred to the lavender, the study said.

And while there were no significant differences in the students’ blood pressure before or after the exam, there was a “significant decrease” in pulse rate after both tests that involved aromatherapy. The authors noted that pulse rate is indicative of acute stress and anxiety.

It’s up to you on how technical you want to get with aromatherapy. The simplest addition of a candle or customizing your oil blends for resale could also be an added service to your clientele, which in turn, also adds to your bottom line.

Make sure to check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select can be counted toward continuing education credits required for license renewal.

—Jeremy Maready