When using an essence on animals, they are not consciously "aware" of being treated, as a human would be. Although it may be unethical in some cases, would using flower essences on another person, without their permission, still be effective if you were quite sure of what essence to use? We use them on children without their conscious knowledge as well. My question is: will they be more effective with conscious knowledge of possible results?

January 5, 2005

Thank you for your important question about the ethics of gaining permission and consent in flower essence therapy. This is truly an important issue to consider. There are many different factors to take into account, so please bear in mind that while I can give a few guidelines, the core responsibility lies with each practitioner in evaluating the particular circumstances of each case.

Animals and children (or elderly persons or others who may not have full mental capacities) under our care, depend on us to make the best decisions for them. Thus, when we use flower essences for them, we are doing so based upon an implicit relationship of caretaking which has already been established, spiritually and physically.

On the other hand, a fully capable, independent adult who is able to communicate directly to us, needs to be consulted and permission needs to be granted for any kind of healing we do. This permission may be more general, such as, "I trust you to select flower essences for me. I don't need to know all the particulars, I am willing to experience the results, whatever they might be..."

Obviously there are many gradations in the spectrum of "seeking healing permission." Many animal practitioners are able to communicate telepathically with animals under their care and do in fact feel that they gain permission—and recognition—of the flower essences being given and experienced. With children, we may not explain every detail on an intellectual basis, but we might give an imaginative picture of the flower and its healing qualities.

Also, there are many times to use flower essences on an emergency basis without formal consent. For example, many practitioners have used Five-Flower Formula in rescue situations for both humans and animals who are unconscious or semi-conscious with beneficial results.

Whether flower essences work better with conscious permission is an open research question. There is good evidence to support that placebo applications of flower essences are very effective—but again, there has been a general consent of the participant to engage in a placebo experiment.

The important question, apart from whether the flower essences will be beneficial, is an ethical one: any healing or substance given to another ought to be administered with the greatest freedom possible, given the parameters and conditions of each relationship.

Patricia Kaminski

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