What makes a good acupuncturist?

March 5, 2012

People ask me what qualities describe a good acupuncturist.  Since I have lectured throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe teaching Acupuncture, I can share some of my insights here.  As a lecturer,  acupuncture professor and clinical supervisor, as well as occasionally taking on private students, perhaps my insights can help an unknowing consumer find the best practitioner for them.

I often tell my students that the single best quality to look in an acupuncturist is their ability to listen, explore, translate and interpret a patient’s signs and symptoms from contemporary language into the language of Acupuncture and related Traditional Chinese Medicine.  From here the treatment and herbal therapy all spring forth.

The next best quality is years of experience, or them going the extra mile to study and apprentice under a seasoned practitioner and continue to maintain that relationship with their mentor as their clinical experience grows.  Many students who go to school and graduate from a Master’s program basically know the minimum basics of which to get licensed, but have very little practical experience managing case loads, difficult diseases, and things other than just “cookbook” cases.   Also, their knowledge tends to be fixed, and they have little experience to be creative or modify their treatments accordingly.   As a result, you may be discouraged with less than optimal results.

I always know these acupuncturists in my classes as they ask me, “Dr. Chu, what are good points for ___________ disease?”  Its not that they don’t know their acupuncture points and location or aren’t certified properly, its just that these practitioners have not learned the logic of using Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine properly.

One last thing is that Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture treats Mind, Body, Spirit and Emotions.  A seasoned practitioner has life experience, understands the causes of disease, and is mature in mind, body, spirit and emotions, and treats those with appropriate means.  It is a complete general medicine that considers, in addition to Acupuncture and Herbal therapy, lifestyle changes, good nutrition, exercise, healthy emotions, reducing stress, appropriate dressing, avoiding toxins, and not pulling genetic triggers.

Caveat emptor!

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