Meta-aromatherapy is basically a combination treatment using essential oils, massage and touch techniques, coupled with hypnotherapy and psychophonetic-type counseling.

The ‘meta’ element refers to the use of the client’s own metaphors relative to stimulating emotional (and potentially physical) healing through a trauma release process, i.e. it helps to remove emotional blockages or negatively held patterns that may be preventing goal achievement or optimal wellness. The therapist guides the client through the process with the understanding that it is possible to influence the physiology, at a cellular level, by a change in thought patterns. The techniques are purported to gently access the neuropeptides, or messenger molecules, of the central nervous system, thereby releasing unresolved traumatic memories held within the body’s cellular matrix and in turn resolving chronic physical and/or emotional issues without the risk of retraumatising (if performed properly!). The psycho-olfactory as well as other therapeutic or physiological elements of essential oils add to the kinaesthetic response element of this journey work. Olfactory stimulation of the amygdala, the portion of the brain involved in storing and releasing emotional blocks, trauma and shock, helps to release and ultimately rebalance the client.

While guided counselling is not a new concept, the use of essential oils for their psychological effects (psycho-aromatherapy), in combination with the influence of Grovian hypnotherapy and various touch techniques, in a specific format, is a relatively original approach that was developed in the early 1990s. The originator, Christine Westwood, named this therapeutic method ‘meta-aromatherapy’. The technique requires specific training, since it involves significant engagement with a client’s emotional or psychological patterns, especially those of an ‘inner-child’ nature – it’s more than just a friendly chat incorporating a gentle rub with fragrant oils. When delivered by a skilled practitioner, this form of treatment can have a powerful effect on physical, mental/emotional and spiritual wellness.

I am not aware of anyone practising in South Africa who is specifically trained in this method.

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