Divorce, burn out, bereavement, childhood trauma…in a lifetime, many events can prevent you from being at peace with yourself. At the start of the 1990s Gilles Fournil created olfactory therapy, to soothe the mind in a natural way and to liberate the body from emotional strains impeding its well-being, It is a method “that aims to help people who are suffering or who are seeking meaning in their lives through the use of essential oils and their psycho-emotional impact through scents and vibrations”, explains Agnès Addy, an olfactory therapy practitioner and aromatherapy trainer.

How does it work?

Olfactory therapy uses the direct link which exists between the sense of smell and memory. “Our sense of smell is very powerful, and can immediately trigger a memory, a feeling, an image”, she explains. Inhaling essential oils opens the door of the subconscious. The associations we make through our sense of smell can reveal happiness or trauma, sometimes very intensely, with some patients completely rejecting an essential oil, experiencing discomfort, or even breaking down in tears. “The impact on the emotional system can sometimes be very significant. Some people can be overcome by their emotions,” says Agnès Addy.
Another aspect of olfactory therapy is vibration. “Much like crystals in lithotherapy, essential oils emit vibrations. This vibratory power can be used much in the same way as stones, for example by placing the closed bottle of essential oil on the chakras that are being worked on”.

Yin and yang essential oils

During the session, the patient inhales different essential oils and chooses two: one that they like and one that they don’t like. These are then used as tools in their psycho-corporal treatment. “The oil that they like is one that gives them confidence. It reinforces their good resources and feeds their energy. It is used as a means of support. In contrast, the essential oil that the person doesn’t like has to be kept under control, because it often reveals a blockage, an injury, but also a part of them that they don’t like. This is a transformation oil.”

Soothing different troubles

Olfactory therapy is aimed at people who are experiencing emotional distress following a divorce, an illness, past trauma, etc. It seeks out the emotional and energetic causes of distress and untangles mental knots. “Olfactory therapy is an emotional well-being support therapy. It strives to understand and untangle all the reasons why the body and mind no longer work together. It is also a valuable way of relieving emotional difficulties, difficulties regarding an addiction, professional burn-out, stress, etc.” Agnès Addy also supports people with reduced cognitive capacities in nursing homes or in palliative care.

However, olfactory therapy is not a form of medicine in the strict sense of the term. It does not reach a diagnosis and does not treat illness. “We do not treat symptoms. Olfactory therapy is a complementary form of medicine”, continues Agnès Addy.

Finding meaning in your life

Olfactory therapy may also be used when everything is going well, to help someone develop internal resources such as creativity, their libido and self-confidence. “We support people who are changing jobs and help them make the most of their resources. Other patients are doing well but are looking for meaning in their lives.”

Olfactory therapy raises questions about our life on earth, the meaning of life and also has a spiritual dimension, but without ever engaging in a belief system. It helps us reconnect to our deepest values and helps us better understand ourselves to maximise our well-being.