I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the right acupuncturist for everyone. There have been multiple occasions when I’ve referred patients to other acupuncturists who I think would meet their needs better, both from a specialty standpoint and personality-wise. For example, someone who is seeking strong needle stimulation that is prevalent in the Chinese and Korean Medicine approaches would not have as good of an experience with my gentle, Japanese-style treatments. Or someone who prefers quick treatments that only focus on their chief complaint wouldn’t engage well with my treatment plans that focus on getting to the root of why your chief complaint exists in the first place (for these patients I highly recommend community acupuncture - it’s quick and effective).
That said, for those who seek a straight-shooting acupuncturist whose approach is gentle, includes lots of moxibustion (mugwort burned at strategic points) and herbal medicine, and focuses on chronic health issues that heal overtime with multiple followup treatments, I’m your gal.
So how do you find the right acupuncturist for you? Below I’ve outlined questions to ask - both yourself and any potential practitioner - that will help you get a clear idea of what you need and who can meet those needs.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What are you looking for out of acupuncture? Know your expectations before you go in. If you are able to state your expectations up front, it’ll be easier for your practitioner to know if they can either meet them or if they can help you manage them.
- How sensitive are you to needles? This will help you determine the best school of acupuncture for you. For example, Traditional Chinese Acupuncture tends to use thicker needles with more stimulation than Japanese Acupuncture, while the Master Tung approach uses less needles than meridian therapy.
- How much are you willing to invest? Knowing your budget will help you determine if you should go for a private practice setting (which costs more) or a community acupuncture setting (which costs less).
- What kind of relationship do you need with your practitioner? This will help you determine if you should go to a smaller private clinic for a more intimate relationship or a larger community-style clinic where you aren’t like to get the same practitioner every time.
- What scope of treatment are you seeking through “acupuncture”? Since acupuncture is more than just needles, each practitioner tends to have another speciality within the scope of acupuncture, whether it be herbal medicine, massage, nutritional counseling, cupping (a’la Michael Phelps), moxibustion (dried mugwort burned on strategic points), electro-acupuncture, among others.
Questions to Ask An Acupuncturist
- What style of acupuncture do you practice? Can you explain it to me?
- Do you have any areas of speciality? (i.e. dermatology, orthopedics, etc.)
- What does a typical treatment plan look like? How often should I be coming in?
- Do you recommend anything else for my issues apart from acupuncture?
- What does your ideal patient-practitioner relationship look like?
If you don’t know the answer to the questions above - that’s ok! You might need to try out a few acupuncturists before you find the right one, Goldilocks style. If you still need help in finding the right practitioner for you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll schedule a time to talk through your health needs and goals so that I can recommend someone who might fit them.