The question “Is essential oils usage in our Scope of Practice?” has been discussed in a couple Facebook groups pretty thoroughly. Here’s my take: Is reading, writing, and arithmetic covered in our Scope of Practice? Is the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices covered in our Scope of Practice? If we’re practicing multimodal stimulation with infants in the NICU, is neonatal massage covered in our Scope of Practice? The answer is NO. Read the Scope of Practice here.

It becomes a very deep rabbit hole. We could get certifications in a gajillion different modalities.

Let’s all become licensed, certified teachers! That way, we can finally integrate reading, writing, and arithmetic into our music therapy practice.

Let’s all become certified Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) practitioners! That way, we can finally start using AAC devices with our clients.

And maybe once we finally achieve our Neonatal Touch and Massage Certification, we’ll be able to become NICU-MT trained. And THEN we’ll be able to help babies in the NICU.

Don’t get me wrong. I value higher education and advanced and specialized trainings and certifications. And it behooves us to obtain these additional trainings as necessary for our clients needs.

So, when does our education finally stop, and our service to our clients begin? Never! Education never stops – Please always be a student first. I encourage all of my peers, colleagues, and coaching clients to always be a learner first. However continuing education and service are not mutually exclusive.

Hence, we CAN serve our clients at the same time we identify ourselves as “lifelong learners.”

Ethics are not often black and white.

Ethics are not often black and white. But I’m going to try my best to answer some key questions that come up often when discussing essential oils usage in music therapy practice.

Is it ethical to use essential oils (EOs) in the practice of music therapy? It depends. How are you using EOs? Are you selling EOs to your clients? Maybe you’re recommending that your clients ingest EOs? Are you integrating usage into a public workshop? Perhaps you’re dropping EOs in your clients ears? I mean, I can’t answer the first question with YES or NO until I have more information.

Let’s back up and give some ethical ground rules, based on principle:

Would it be ethical to use any product or modality recklessly in music therapy practice – whether that be an iPad, a wheelchair, infant massage, or essential oils? No.

Would it be ethical for the music therapist to profit from the sale of equipment/materials to clients? No.

Would it be ethical for the music therapist to perform duties for which he/she has not been adequately trained? No.

So what IS ethical and what is not?

Honestly, the only person who can answer this question is YOU and the ethics board of AMTA. I’m not going to impose on your clinical decisions. But here are some recommendations I have:

1. Use essential oils in self-care first and get educated. Diffuse them in your living room. Apply them topically with a carrier if necessary. Learn how they work. Learn which ones are “hot.” Learn all the possibilities for usage. (See Scope of Practice: “The music therapist only provides services within the scope of practice that reflect his/her level of competence”)

2. Read the research. A question I get all the time is “Are essential oils evidence-based?” It’s interesting because sometimes it seems like the person asking the question is sitting atop an ivory tower.

Let’s get down-to-earth about EBP right now. Nobody is holier than thou when it comes to your professional resourcefulness in making clinical decisions. And don’t let anybody make you think otherwise. Use your resources. Reach out to your mentors.

Now, let’s talk about what “evidence-based practice” is first. In order for something to be evidence-based, it needs to fit into 3 actions on the part of the clinician: (1) performed his/her own critical appraisal of the research on the topic, (2) considered his/her clinical experience, and (3) considered client preferences and values.

  • Do your due diligence, visit Pub Med, and perform your own critical appraisal of the research on essential oils.
  • Then consider your own clinical experience. Has an aroma or smelly room changed the direction of your sessions before? Have you ever used other mindful modalities?
  • What are the preferences and values of your client? Have you asked the family if they use essential oils at home?

3. Obtain consent for clients with whom you’ll use essential oils. Consent is so important, and having the paper trail will clarify and bring peace of mind to your clients.

4. Relax and start diffusing in your office first. That’s the easiest way to get started. Your clients and coworkers will thank you =)

Where I proudly stand

It is my personal belief that essential oils usage in music therapy practice, when done judiciously, can greatly enhance the practice and promote an environment of health, healing, and progress with our clients.

So far, I have used essential oils secondarily to music in my practice with spouses of first responders, care partners, older adults, staff people, and patients in a medical hospital. I have always received rave reviews from clients and administrators!

Of course, don’t let my biases be yours. Decide for yourself 😉


Get your Oils and get a treat from me! 

When you purchase your Starter Kit, you’ll receive a 77-page educational handbook so you feel confident using essential oils. You’ll also receive 3 workshop session plans that combine drumming and essential oils.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Young Living products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.

4 Steps To Integrate Essential Oils Into Your Work

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