Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Olfactory Power

The sense of smell is the sense we possess that is most closely aligned to memory. We have all had the experience of recalling memories in very vivid ways simply by noticing a certain smell or fragrance. We become aware of the smell and instantly we recall a person or a memory so clearly without even engaging our conscious mind.

Smells and fragrances can also be associated with negative memories or events in our lives that were quite difficult or even painful. We need to become more aware of how memories of these events are often triggered by our olfactory sensors.

I can remember when I was a medical social worker in a skilled nursing facility I was interviewing a new patient and for some reason I was finding myself tearing up and feeling sad. The patient was wondering what was going on (and so was I!) I thought of what could be going on that this involuntary response was occurring with me. She didn't look like anyone I knew. Then, it hit me. It was her smell! She was wearing a very soft scent of powder that my Grandmother used to wear from Avon. The fragrance immediately caused me to miss my Grandmother who had died just a year before.

Fragrances and smells, and yes sometimes ODORS, can be used in Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy sessions to utilize the olfactory sense we all possess to assist one to bring about changes in their thought patterns or behaviors. This is done by associating the smell with a pleasant or unpleasant experience while in trance. This is only done with permission of a patient or client. I have found it to be so incredibly effective in my work. It doesn't even have to be an actual odor or smell. The subconcious mind creates the "smell" as if it were actually sensing the smell from one's nose!

Those of you who have come to my office are aware of how I use aromas and scents in my waiting room and treatment room. Many times I have had a patient tell me "as soon as I walk in this waiting room I feel good." I often find out later it's due to their subconsciously or consciously being aware of the aromas and fragrances I use to enhance the psychotherapy or hypnotherapy experience and process; or, in some situations, the process of having to wait in the waiting room for their appointment to begin or for the session to be finished for someone they are with.

I have been told many times that between the soft peaceful music, aromas, and good magazines in the waiting room that people look forward to sitting in the waiting room!

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