The first visit in the acupuncture clinic is devoted to gathering a great deal of information about main concerns, medical history, physical conditions and energetic observations. We address your questions and discuss a treatment plan. In Five Element acupuncture, this process is called the Traditional Diagnosis, or TD, and usually lasts about two hours. There is a short physical examination, along with pulse-taking, but no needles are inserted during the first visit.
Subsequent visits involve acupuncture treatments to move your energy in the direction of vitality, harmony and balance. Your practitioner monitors your response to treatment by talking with you at the start of each treatment and by taking your pulses before, during and immediately after treatment. Pulse-taking in acupuncture is not the same as taking your radial pulse in Western medicine. The process is similar in that your practitioner will take your hand in theirs, but they will be listening to and feeling for different qualities. Your pulse “picture” provides the truest assessment of your health, guiding your practitioner’s treatment plan and helping them evaluate your progress over time.
Working with their clinical supervisor, your practitioner will determine which acupuncture points to use for your treatment. The Five Element tradition believes in effecting maximum change in a person’s qi through using as few needles as possible. As such, practitioners may choose only three to five points to needle, with each point chosen for a specific purpose. Once the point is precisely located on your body, your practitioner may burn moxa directly on the point if it is warranted. The point will be cleaned and the needle inserted. Most often the needle is promptly removed. Needles are generally not left in the point for lengthy periods of time. Your practitioner will check your pulses before moving on to the next point. You are encouraged to relax throughout your treatment and to let your practitioner do their work. Sometimes your practitioner will ask for information about what you are experiencing during the treatment. Along with pulse-taking, this information is helpful in gauging the progress of the treatment. Your pulses will be taken again after all of the points have been needled.
While every person is different, most people benefit the most by coming weekly at the start of treatment. As your health improves and stabilizes, treatments are scheduled less and less frequently. Once healthy, the emphasis is on preventive treatment. This means coming seasonally for “tune-up” treatments to help you maintain health and well-being.
A Primary Difference
The Academy offers a faculty-supervised clinic. This means that treatment is provided by student practitioners in their clinical year of training. Every aspect of treatment is closely supervised by our faculty members who are licensed acupuncturists.
The are three practitioners involved in each treatment: your primary practitioner, a co-practitioner, and the clinical supervisor. Your primary practitioner is responsible for planning and carrying out your treatment and evaluating your progress. The co-practitioner is as highly trained as your primary practitioner, but their main role is to assist your practitioner as needed. Additionally, the clinical supervisor will come in to talk with you briefly and take your pulses. Depending on the phase of clinical training, the supervisor may also be observing needling, checking the location of points which have been marked out, or asking you for additional information. This is all part of the clinical experience.
All of these individuals work cooperatively to provide you with the best possible treatment. The result is a caring and compassionate, patient-centered model of health care that supports holistic well-being.