A Step-By-Step Guide for a Positive Acupuncture Experience
by Cailin O'Hara, MAcOM, LAc, Dipl OM
Are you interested in trying acupuncture but worry that it may hurt? Are you afraid of needles? Well, you've come to the right place! While it's impossible to know how acupuncture feels until you've tried it, you can educate yourself about the experience and what to expect. This step-by-step guide will show you how.
Step 1: Do your research
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Every acupuncturist is different. We all have varying styles and approaches. Some may be a better fit for you than others. The problem is... how do you do your research when you don't even know what you're looking for? Here's a list of questions you can ask to help get you started...
1) Can you tell me about your training and credentials?
Not everyone that practices acupuncture has the same training or credentials. In general, in order to become a licensed acupuncturist (LAc), one must:
A) go through rigorous study and training over the course of 3-4 years to acquire a master's degree in Chinese medicine and
B) pass board exams to become board certified
In addition to education and credentials, ask about your acupuncturist's additional trainings and areas of focus. This will give you a better understanding of their interests and what you might expect with treatments.
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2) What is an appointment with you like?
Yes, you can ask this question! If you don't know what to expect, ask as many questions as you need to in order to get a better understanding. Some acupuncturists offer free consultations. That's a great place to start. Ask how long appointments last, how frequently you will need to go in, how the treatment itself will feel, etc.
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3) What are your treatment types or specialties?
In the scope of Chinese medicine, there are many treatment options. Ask your acupuncturist what types of treatments they offer. Do you have a particular health concern, like pain or fatigue, that you want to address? Ask if your acupuncturist works with those things, and ask if they have any specialties.
Step 2: Choose an acupuncturist
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After you've spoken to some acupuncturists in your area, choose one that feels like a good fit for you. Ask yourself these questions...
Do we resonate well together?
Dr. Cailin O'Hara, DACM, LAc, Dipl OM, is a nationally board certified Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, herbalist and coach. She is based in Phoenix, AZ.