A Therapist Guide to Aromatherapy

Danielle Daniel, LCSW, PsyD student

A Therapist Guide to Aromatherapy

 Whether you are a psychotherapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist, dentist, physical therapist, or in any other line of work where you have an office setting to positively influence your clients, diffusing essential oils can be the solution you are looking for.  As I started diffusing in my office as well as in my own home different essential oils,  I started to take note on what oils seem to influence different emotions and I am here to share with you some of my observations and studies. Many of us like an "air freshener" anyway in our homes or offices, so why not diffuse something that is non-toxic and beneficial to emotions and cleansing the air, all the while smelling really good? Have you wondered what all the craze is about with essential oils lately? Well I grew up with a mother who always used essential oils, so I would use them at home, but never did I think about bringing them into the office until I started studying the science behind the compounds and understanding just how real their effects can be! I have my masters degree in social work from San Diego State University and am a licensed clinical social worker. I am also in a doctorate program for clinical psychology and having access to research has been an exciting thing when it comes to studying the brain and aromatherapy, a practice I have termed as "Psychoaromacology".  I became curious on how these aromatic compounds could really effect emotional wellness so I started bringing an aromatic diffuser to my office and played around with different essential oils, observing how they could influence emotions. I was amazed at how well they worked during a therapy session not only on my clients but on myself too, making my own work day more pleasant.

What exactly are essential oils?

Essential oils are volatile aromatic compounds, meaning they are light in molecular weight therefore are able to float easily throughout the air and enter neural olfactory pathways as we inhale them.  Once they enter that pathway, their different compounds bind to olfactory bulbs and travel to the limbic structure of the brain communicating the release of different feelings and emotions.   See more here on essential oils


Emotions are nothing more than chemical pathways in the brain being triggered by sight, sound, thought, taste and of course scent. All these different sensory input, cause a neuronal firing in our brain, which in turn influence our emotions. Because aromatic oils are potent molecules, they are more powerful at influencing our emotions. An example of this is when you peel open the skin of an orange, you are actually releasing the aromatic sacs that sit on the rind of that orange and you get the strong influence in that moment of the essential oils in your nasal passage ways, which then can influence the emotions of feeling happy, or calm feelings of stress. Emotions play a big role in our lives, so why not have something from nature that can positively influence us?

Uplift Mood

Many oils support uplifting our mood and thoughts just from inhaling the pleasant aroma of nature. Citruses I have found in research and experience, are by far the most influential to uplift mood. Orange essential oil is one of my favorites to diffuse as I work with adolescents. You could see the marked difference when they began to inhale the pleasing scent of a citrus that seem to trigger an emotional change, making the therapy session more successful. Other oils for uplifting mood are: frankincense, rosemary, bergamot, lavender and clary sage.


To balance emotions of anxiousness or worry, citruses again can be very helpful at interacting at the stress response level in the body.  Lavender is another oil studied extensively for calming feelings of worry or anxiousness. A favorite blend of mine to diffuse for this type of emotion, is my Mind Zen Blend which is equal drops in a diffuser of orange, lavender, sandalwood, and clary sage essential oils. This blend seems to calm a racing mind in those moments of worry and create a calmness and balance in your thoughts and emotions in anxious situations.  So dentists, this is a good blend for your office!


All of us need a little help with focus whether it be a child in school or sitting at a computer working all day. I have helped many teachers diffuse different oils in their classrooms to encourage focus as well as used them when doing big research papers for my own studies.  The top oils studied for giving a sense of focus are chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood, peppermint and citruses.  Hands down my favorite blend to use is a roll-on oil focus blend of sandalwood, ylang ylang, lime, and several other oils. This blend is already made and ready to purchase, connect with me for more details, but a great diffuser blend I like to use is equal drops of sandalwood, lime , and ylang ylang for the office.


Similar to uplifting mood, citruses can be very helpful in dealing with feelings of anger.  With adolescents, they definitely can be moody with all the changes going on in their development during these years. I'll never forget this one 17 year old high school football player I worked with who walked in my office very angry about an incident that had occurred during his Spanish class that day. He was so angry and cursing about it as he walked into my office. Then I saw an amazing shift happen in him as he took his first big inhale of the aroma I had diffusing. He sat down, and he looks at me and says "it smells really nice in here".  His entire mood shifted as the influence of nature took hold in his mind and we were able to have a very calm conversation about his emotions of anger and processing them healthily.

My favorite scents for calming emotions of anger are bergamot, cedar wood, orange and lavender essential oils.

There are many more ways essential oils can influence our emotions, for a more complete guide, you can sign up for my newsletters and receive a downloadable reference image for your office. You can also connect with me and schedule a free consult or learn more about my trainings I offer on this subject on a monthly basis.  To connect with me personally and get started with using essential oils, complete this form here. Register for my next webinar on Facebook and see all the upcoming events I have, click here. I look forward to being connected and helping you on your journey of implementing the amazing and powerful compounds of essential oils in your practice!

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