How I Work
I have included this interview to give insight into how I work. The main accent here is to answer some questions and give a little information on my background and how I work.
Article published in The Magic Lamp Magazine
Interview with an Aromatherapist.
Holistic Practitioner Sharon emery left a career in show business as a singer and musician after 18 years, to take up life in the healing profession at the beginning of the '90's. She tells us why she made the change and how she feels about her role as a therapist.
Q: Why did you decide to be an Aromatherapist?
A: I felt as though there was a need for more natural therapies at the time. In the early '80's there were not many "alternative" therapists available in my area apart from Osteopaths etc. I saw the word "Aromatherapy" and wondered what it was about, then started to try oils out on myself and study the subject. An organist in a club I was working at questioned me about this new thing I was interested in. He thought it was a subject to do with Rome (laughs).
In 1983 I tried a few of the oils such as Peppermint and Lavender and I found they helped me. I had some health problems which had not responded to conventional treatments and wanted to try something else. For a couple of years I studied essential oils mainly for my own interest. Eventually, although I loved music, some aspects of the business and the smoky clubs made me long for a new career. The thing that had always been close to my heart as a child was herbs as in those used in herbal medicine. I was always growing something and collecting and labelling wild flowers and herbs etc. This was my original passion only now, it involved healing bodywork and massage! This was an ah ha moment.
Q: So you were learning about Aromatherapy while in show business?
A: Yes. When I entertaining the troops in the Falklands for example, I was the only person among the group of entertainers who did not get ill. We stopped at the Ascension Islands on route and people were suffering the effects of extremes of temperature, getting bitten my mosquitoes, getting travel sickness etc, and everybody was coming down with infections etc. Luckily I had taken with me a "first aid kit" of six essential oils. I tried them out for myself and they impressed me greatly. After this, aromatherapy became my ally on journeys and tours overseas. I was also able to help other people with them and eventually decided to take up aromatherapy as a profession.
Q: Where did you do you training?
A: I trained with Patricia Davies at the London School of Aromatherapy. After qualifying, I still wanted to know more about the scientific and chemical properties of the oils, so I found a postgraduate course in Scientific aromatherapy with Professor Pierre Franchomme, a professor of chemistry (Institute Des Sciences Biomedicales) and one of the world's leading experts on the biochemical properties of essential oils. The course was run originally of doctors and surgeons in France and when Pierre came to London to teach it I saw it as a great opportunity. He taught us why the oils worked, how they are absorbed through the skin and how to use them in a more medical way.
Q: How do you use oils in therapy?
A: A consultation gives me a good idea of which oils will help a person most. The blend of essential oils I choose will be designed to help physically, mentally and emotionally. Essential oils are put into a carrier oil like Sunflower for example and through the medium of therapeutic massage they are absorbed. I may give people creams and oils for them to use in-between treatments so that they will continue to receive the benefits. You can also use them in steam inhalations, with a diffuser and compresses or add to the bath water. *note* Some essential oils will need to be diluted for the bath.
Q: Can you tell me how you treat people? What people come to you with?
A: Well most people come with back or leg pains or some kind of muscular problem and what I often find is an underlying cause behind the pain. I look at posture and lifestyle. Often when they have a pain in the back, they may not realise that there is also tenderness around the leg area which is related to the back pain. I find these tender spots and may do acupressure, holding trigger points or skin rolling to release muscular tension, adhesions and congestion which are affecting the underlying organs, circulation, lymphatic drainage etc. I work with the whole body rather than isolating parts. A pain high up on the body for example, can be related to a pain in the knee or foot (referred pain). I also look at diet. I see a person as not just a body, but a mind and spirit, a whole person.
Q: What is a consultation like?
A: The initial consultation can be quite detailed, but only if the person wants that. I encourage them to take control of their health. A treatment can be like a regular service to keep a check on where tensions or problems are arising and as a preventative medicine. It is surprising actually how many people take more care of their cars than their bodies when it comes to maintenance. And they have to last us a lot longer! So many of us will spend £2000 or more money on a three piece suite and will not spend £20 or so on a massage when they are in agony. It is worth thinking about.
Q: What kinds of complaints is aromatherapy ideal for?
A: Well, pain is a good one. One of my favourite oils is Peppermint which is a great pain reliever. Such oils do not just relieve pain, but the increase the circulation around the area and enhance healing. The oils may be anti-inflammatory, or/and may work on the emotional levels where the "pain" could actually be coming from. When you smell essential oils and according to the oil's chemical profile, messages are relayed via the olfactory system which stimulate the limbic area of the brain. Marjoram for example stimulates the brain's production of serotonin and this has a mood-enhancing effect.
Q: What are you favourite oils of emotional problems?
A: Neroli, Rose Otto, Frankincense, bergamot, Lavender, geranium, Roman chamomile and Melissa (there are many more). Of course it is important that you get good quality oils and take care of them as well. They should be kept away from sunlight, bright light and heat and some of them do not have as long a shelf life as others. Citrus oils such as Lemon oil for example do not keep for long, whereas Rose becomes better with age.
Q: What carrier oils do you use as a base for mixing essential oils?
A: Sunflower, grape seed, safflower, virgin organic coconut and olive oil are excellent. I also like using comfrey infused oil for circulation and bone and joint problems. Aloe Vera gel makes an excellent base and blends beautifully with high quality creams (vitamin E, shea butter etc).
Q: Generally, can you give an example of a complaint someone may come to you with and how you might approach it?
A: Well, someone may come to me with a back problem. I may find out that she/he is holding onto a lot of grief, which may actually start to release as I am working on the body. On a number of occasions for example, I have been working on neck acupressure-points and noticed that my hands are wet with the person's tears and they are actually getting their first chance in a long time to let go of many of the feelings they have held in a tense and tight body. When this happens, its spontaneous. I like to encourage this as it can lead to considerable improvement and a 'freeing up' of the person's condition. Some people prefer to hold on to their feelings however, and I never insist otherwise. I prefer to work at the person's level if I can. People come to me with all kinds of problems. I may notice when I see how they are sitting that they are holding their shoulders tightly. This might be a sign that they are finding it hard to let go, in some area of their lives. I work with the energy meridians used in Chinese medicine and often the energy flow is blocked and the person finds it hard to 'let go' where feelings are concerned. I believe that this kind of blocking lies behind many physical ailments and this is why removing the organ or giving drugs does not really treat the cause. The imbalance may move somewhere else in the body if not dealt with on an energy/emotional level. The body is trying to tell us something through illness and our task is to stop and have a listen. When you do acupressure or massage and when you use subtle forms of healing such as Reiki, a kind of unravelling can take place and the breathing and posture becomes freer.
Q: So you find that certain complaints link with states of mind or attitudes?
A: Very much so. People who are constipated may be holding onto a lot of 'old 'stuff' in their lives. People who talk a lot may have a spleen imbalance and arthritic people tend to be critical of self and others and need to learn to forgive themselves and accept things more. Not easy, but treatments can help here. Not everyone wants emotional release. Many people come for general maintenance and that is fine. I can work on a physical level quite happily. I gain more satisfaction when I see improvements on deeper levels though and I like to encourage people to make positive changes in all areas of their lives.
Q: What kinds of therapies do you do besides Aromatherapy?
A: Bowen Therapy, Remedial massage, Reiki and Reflexology. Some of them can be effectively combined if it suits the individual person. I may be doing an aromatherapy massage and notice tension in an area, then hold an acupressure point while doing Reiki with the other hand. This is very effective. It is a good way to work. People get what they need.
Q: Why do you think there are so many stress-related health problems around?
A: Because many people drive themselves too hard and find it hard to just 'be'. In our society there is little acknowledgement of energy fields of the body. Medicine is seen as a kind of mechanical treatment for a material body or body 'part' rather than a treatment for the whole person. In reality, illness can start as an imbalance on mental, emotional and spiritual levels. In our culture we are encouraged to work towards material goals rather than nourish our spiritual selves and where the word spirit is used, people tend to think of religion or something 'spooky'. Everyone has a spirit and energy body and it is completely natural. In fact they wouldn't be here if they hadn't.
Q: What do you think about the label 'complementary medicine'?
A: For me, 'complementary' should mean what it says. Most therapies can be complementary to another. Conventional medicine can be complementary to natural medicine too. I think the important thing is - doing what is in the best interests of the patient.
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