As always my blogs are inspired by people I meet and treat. There are times when I need to share ‘behind the scenes’ for the benefit of fellow Therapists.
I have been turned to recently, on quite a few occasions to help clients work through their grief, shock or trauma. As a practitioner I know just how stress of any kind can present itself in the body from a reduction in movement, pain or lost fluidity. As a human being I have a huge amount of empathy and understanding in these situations to as I too have faced all three elements mentioned in this title.
Grief, shock and trauma can lead to anger, frustration, despair, helplessness, sadness and fear. As a Therapist when you meet a client in this state we have to slowly diagnose which way it’s going so we know what formula to use. It’s a moment to take control of the ituation and guide the client to the best solution for the best outcome. Now for me my formula involves listening, prompting, aromatherapy and massage. Our position as a practitioner is a powerful place to be in and it’s essential our client feels safe, comfortable and considered.
When faced with an answer to the question ‘How are you feeling today?’ of ‘I’m on the edge!’, ‘I feel awful really’, or a flood of tears or shallow breathing/hyperventilation what is your reaction as a Therapist? Are you prepared for this type of situation? Do you know what to do?
I’m going to share two actual scenarios and tell you just what I did and hope to impart some value so you as a Therapist can feel better equipped.
I met this particular male client through a personal recommendation 10 days after losing his wife to Cancer.
When he shares his current situation with me he describes it as ‘just terrible’ I sense the love he has for her and that he would do anything to have her back by his side. At times I see the waves of emotion spill through his breathing patterns and I at times find myself holding my own emotions of the situation together,
As a Therapist where do you begin when faced with a consultation that contains grief, sadness and loss. Well, you have to dig deep and observe the impact. I begin with creating the right synergy of oils to bring the aromas of peace, grounding & meditative breath and find it in Sunflower, Arnica, Frankincense, Petitgrain & Sweet Orange. He immediately enjoys the aroma and so I apply across his chest toards his neck so he can be fulfilled by the sheer effects of the smell, I continue the application to his back, arms and abdomen. If ever you wonder whether massaging the tummy is appropriate then I urge you not to hesitate especially in this situation. We’ve all felt anxiety, indecision and an unsettling feeling at this centrepoint, now add grief and in return you experience pain! I began the massage at this central core to settle, warm and create space for a deeper more meditative breath to occur. I work across the chest, the heart and lengthen and free the neck and head before stretching down to the arms, easing him into relaxation and opening him up to trust the world again. I soften and stretch through the torso before returning to the scalp and face (imagine how many thoughts race through your head when you lose someone so close). I finish with a very simple pattern of hand placement on the abdomen, solar plexus, chest and head before a light, flowing body balancing technique to complete the massage experience.
He was calm, grateful and relieved to know that ahead of him lay a restful night and with a bottle of the blend to use at home, to smell, apply or to add to his next bath.
This was a regular client whom I see every month, who received sad news moments before walking into the treatment room.
After distinguishing if this was a case of sudden shock or acceptance of a sad situation, I opted to ground this client with part of the Orange tree reknowned for it’s earthy, grounding emotion skills from the bark and twigs namely; Petitgrain to create a formula that the client could turn to in the coming days.
Grief comes in all forms whether prepared or not. In this case the client knew of her friends illness which she fought once before but this time treatment had not been successful. While this is not a case of extreme sudden shock it is a case of the reality of something actually coming to fruition, something you hoped never would. My client had raised money and supported the family yet now felt overwhelmingly saddened and helpless.
The treatment began across the chest, pectoral muscles, heart chakra in the first wave of extreme sadness. I went on to work through the hands and arms to alleviate the helplessness of the situation. You are now on a cusp of guilt as the client is being massaged while their friend is suffering. The effects have now calmed their breath before the second wave comes across the throat, Sterno-Cleido Mastoid contracts she wants to shout, cry out loud and air her sadness but bites her lip and trembles passed this wave, it eases before a third wave creeps over her now at the abdomen where anxiety takes heed at the thought of who her friend will leave behind and takes on their sadness too. Psoas grips her sides, the Solar Plexus gradually allows her breath to reach her core and takes the pressure off her chest. The body accepts the situation, client sighs with relief at the intensity and now lightness of how she feels.
As I write two more scenarios come to mind, of a client who adores a relative who she has fought to keep alive but who now must rest in peace. She doesn’t feel right walking into the clinic she feels she must be supporting others. I tailor a shorter treatment to calm shock with Citrus Limon and ease areas of vulnerability such as the lower back enabling her to return home and support others in a more able state herself.
Lastly, a cry for help, a daughter wanting to bring her mother back from ill health and after allopathic medicine wants to try a holistic approach to provide comfort and hope. I delve into the story and tailor recommendations with a view to add more when the mother is ready.
Grief, shock and trauma can creep up on us anytime, anywhere and at any moment. Whether prepared or not it will affect you but accept the process it wishes to take and accept support. It will not dissolve or dilute what’s happened but it will help you manage and cope in the short and long term.
As Therapists do not underestimate the power of touch, aroma or a listening ear. We are a neutral person for which a client may choose to confide in, trust us with their emotions and in return be the most intuitive Therapist you can be and trust in your ability to help heal.
Later that night, light a candle, hold the memory and heal yourself. Camomile and Lavender will help you sleep that night and Mandarin Red will uplift the day ahead. Find peace in your special way of helping others.