You have probably heard about acupuncture, one of the popular forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dating back to ancient times. Though acupuncture is making its way steadily into mainstream global medicine, your doctor may not yet have recommended one for you, or have resources to a reliable TCM practitioner. This means you would have to choose an acupuncturist yourself. In many ways, choosing an acupuncturist is similar to choosing any health care provider: location, cost, specialty and personal style are all primary considerations.
The common starting point would be to seek recommendations. Consider getting a recommendation from someone who has consulted an acupuncturist for conditions similar to yours. Just like medical doctors, many acupuncturists today tend to specialise in specific areas. It will therefore make sense to get a therapist whose strengths and specialties are in line with your health issue.
If you can’t get a personal opinion or haven’t found the right match, the internet is also a great resource, especially if you are looking for an acupuncturist with a particular specialty. While these opinions may or may not be reliable, they can help you identify popular TCM practitioners in your area and review their background and specialties.
Here are some considerations that apply across the board:
Unlike conventional treatment that might involve spending a couple of minutes with your doctor for only a session or two within a given period, acupuncture is typically an ongoing therapy. Therapy sessions may require 30 minutes to an hour for several weeks or months depending on the health condition been treated. Therefore, having a therapist near your residence is of advantage. Both your acupuncturist’s location and schedule will determine how convenient and hence compliant your treatment can be.
Use the initial visit to discuss your treatment program with the practitioner and be sure to make a sustainable plan that will not cause inconvenience to you.
2. Personal connection
Acupuncture treatment is rooted on a healing relationship between the practitioner and the patient.
It goes without saying, you will be more motivated to enjoy and benefit from these sessions when you connect with the therapist. Thus, choose someone you feel comfortable with and confident in.
Just like in western medicine, treatment of certain medical conditions will require more training and experience. For example conditions such as cancer support, hepatitis, fertility and dermatological disorders require a specialist’s attention and not just a general practitioner. Some Chinese Medicine clinics often have a single practitioner who provides all the various services and treat all conditions. Therefore it is better to go to a clinic which has a team of specialists who are qualified and have experience in treating a variety of illnesses. Even for more common problems such as sprains and physical pain, stress, allergies, anxiety, digestive disorders, migraines and smoking cessation, it’s always better to try to look for a specialist in that particular area.
Before you book in for a practitioner, always check his/her credentials. From 1 July 2012 Chinese medicine practitioners must be registered under the national registration and accreditation scheme with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia and meet the Board’s Registration Standards, in order to practise in Australia.
Different acupuncturists charge differently. Fees charged may be determined by the practitioner’s length of service, education and clinical set-up. The price may also depend on the nature of treatment you will receive. Some acupuncturists will charge a minimum fee.
It will be a great plus if your acupuncturist is eligible for private health rebate on acupuncture, Chinese Medicine consultation, and remedial massage treatments for patients. So it is important to check if the practitioner is covered by your private health fund and if the clinic has facility such as HICAPS for you to claim on the spot. Remember not all TCM clinics will be eligible for the same private health funds, and not all practitioners within the same clinic are covered by the same private health funds either. You may want to find out first from your health fund, the amount that is reimbursed per visit, and whether there is maximum limit.
There are also some acupuncturists who offer discounts in case you buy in advance a pre-set number of treatments. Before you start an acupuncture program therefore, consider what’s within your budget and the value of the services you will be getting.
Your healing process will significantly depend on how you feel about the treatment environment. A clean, safe and professional environment will allow you to fully relax. Thus, choose an acupuncture facility you feel most comfortable in.
Check out the practitioner’s website. If there’s none, consider dropping by the facility to ensure it meets your standards. During this pre-visit, check if the clinic has all the basic facilities. Are their consulting rooms private and enclosed? Do they have comfortable treatment rooms? Is the receptionist warm and welcoming? The kind of reception you get tells you a lot about the culture of the whole facility. You may also want to look at the waiting room and the public washroom and see if there’s sufficient space for parking.
If your chosen clinic meets the above considerations, you can be sure to get the best acupuncturist in town.