I am coming upon the completion of my first full year as a licensed acupuncturist. As a relatively new practitioner, I spent a large part of this first year trying to attract new patients. Toward that end, I have participated in health expos and conducted seminars with the intention of educating the public about this form of health care. At many of these events, I would give brief treatments.
Of course there were many people with the usual reservations: fear of needles, wondering if the needles hurt, etc. Usually, the first half of the health care events would find me sitting alone and ignored at my booth, until the first brave soul decided to try acupuncture. Once the first patient was settled in, people would crowd around with curiosity until I was busy treating and educating.
For practicality, I would use only ear acupuncture for these “sample” treatments. The protocol I used was called the “NADA” protocol which is simply a selection of 5 points on each ear designed to reduce stress and calm the sympathetic nervous system. This type of ear acupuncture is often used in addiction and detox programs, as well as trauma clinics after natural disasters. The ear points provide an almost instant sense of relief and relaxation.
I was happy to witness the effects of these treatments as each newcomer became visibly calm. As the patients sat side by side receiving treatments, they would begin to socialize and share experiences. They would soon open up about ailments and their dissatisfaction with their previous healthcare experiences. Also, the more people began to communicate, the more new people wanted to try a treatment. It seemed that once they overcame the initial fear of needles (or whatever was holding them back) they realized that they enjoyed the experience. This sequence of events reminded me that one of the biggest impediments to my profession is the trepidation of the public to try something new. However, the satisfaction of those who were brave enough to try this gentle form of medicine impressed upon me the importance of continuing to educate and encourage people to try acupuncture.
It was clear from these experiences with the public that there are many who want to take the leap toward having more control of their health and their lives. This principle would extend further, into our ear acupuncture clinic at Stillpoint, and with my private patients. I found that people new to acupuncture are doing more than experimenting–they are looking for an adjunct to the healthcare methods that they have been using. They want to be heard and they want their personal experiences considered when making decisions about their health. They want to educate themselves more, and they are ready to heal. Seeing this has brought me a great deal of satisfaction, and excitement about contributing to their efforts.
At the completion of my first year of practice, I feel lucky to have been able to help these new patients on this path. I thought I knew the benefits that acupuncture could offer, but I am pleasantly surprised to see the personal empowerment that comes from people being willing to step outside their comfort zone and take responsibility for their own health.
Jason Trakas, L.Ac.