The goal of most massage and bodywork clients is to release stress, relieve muscle pain and tension, and to simply unwind. This is where the professional hands-on practitioner comes in, using his or her knowledge and experience to achieve these goals—sometimes in as little as 15 minutes.

As practitioners grow in their careers, most begin to notice that there are extra steps to be taken to boost every massage session from simply great to utterly unforgettable. This is when special details begin to blend with the essential knowledge and skills of the massage therapist, to create the foundation for the best bodywork sessions. Such details often include high-quality linens, a comfortable massage table, tried-and-true tunes perfect for unwinding, a top-notch massage lubricant and a session room temperature that’s just right for each client.

For those bodyworkers who wish to take their practices one step further in the quest to achieve the common client goals of relief from pain, stress and tension, there is yet another element that may be added to the mix—aromatherapy.

At first, the notion of blending aromatherapy into one’s everyday massage practice may seem a bit daunting. However, basic aromatherapy methods can be learned fairly quickly, and big benefits may follow.

If you’re a beginner, it’s important to consult an expert in aromatherapy to find out rules and boundaries when it comes to working with essential oils. As a member of the complementary health-care community, it shouldn’t be too hard to find an aromatherapist you feel you can trust.

This person should not only be able to tell you the basic guidelines of aromatherapy, but he or she should also be able to direct you to a high-quality line of essential oils suitable to your practice and intended method of use.
Exactly how you choose to perform aromatherapy during your bodywork sessions is all a matter of personal choice. You’ll want to find the method that blends best with your hands-on routine and your own healing style.

Options include placing essential oils in a diffuser in the session room; adding a few drops to your chosen massage lubricant; rubbing the oils on your hands, then holding your palms above the client’s face and instructing him or her to take a few deep breaths; or spritzing a mist that contains essential oils over the top of the client’s body and face.

Of course, there are other methods of performing aromatherapy, and these are simply examples of common ways in which essential oils are added to massage and bodywork sessions. A bit more research and discussion with a local expert should help you find the method that will best fit your style and goals as a bodyworker.

In terms of selecting specific oils, that will depend on the particular results you’d like to see in each client. Many massage therapists keep a full line of essential oils on hand in order to cater to each client’s need for the day.

—Brandi Schlossberg