From the article, “Aromatherapy: Improve Your Massage Sessions with Nature’s Scents,” by various authors, in the February 2009 issue. Article summary: Aromatherapy can easily be incorporated into a massage-therapy session, whether through topical application or inhalation—and a variety of products on the market today support this marriage of the two therapies.

Confidence is a quality you must possess in order to use essential oils during a massage treatment. I have noticed many therapists who have limited or no training and just don’t feel comfortable using the oils—and I don’t blame them. However, with proper training and practice, you can incorporate aromatherapy into all types of massage and bodywork.

The science of aromatherapy is about knowing the botanical names of the plants, as well as their main healing properties and basic chemical constituents. It is also important to be aware of any contraindications to aromatherapy, such as pregnancy, and other safety concerns. Among untrained massage therapists, using too much oil is usually the first mistake made when trying to administer aromatherapy, and choosing the wrong combination of oils is the second.

The art of aromatherapy is about having a passion for scents, a flair for combining different oils and the ability to create a fabulous-smelling—as well as therapeutic—formula. This also includes using your intuition.

I tell my students that reading a cookbook does not make one a great chef; likewise, reading a book on aromatherapy will not automatically make you a talented aromatherapist.

You can begin by purchasing a kit of basic oils, such as lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus, and start practicing on yourself. However, it is crucial to get your formal training from valid sources. I have seen so much erroneous information via the Internet as well as some books. Studying with an expert in a group setting, such as a live seminar or convention workshop, is best. I also recommend training with various instructors, because you will gather different pearls of wisdom from each one.

Katie Haley has 15 years of experience in aromatherapy and is certified as a medical aromatherapist in France. She is also a licensed massage therapist and esthetician and holds a bachelor’s degree in holistic nutrition. She is an educator and owner of CosmicFlower Aromatherapy Inc. ( in Orlando, Florida.