Self Empowerment via Community Acupuncture

Community acupuncture, what an amazing thing!  Affordable, just about anybody can come for treatment.  Efffective, because you can now afford to get more of what you need.  Natural and side-effects free, it has a wide and beneficial effect on the whole body.

It's also very awkward.

Yes, awkward.  From the moment you come in for your treatment, you are faced with awkward choices.

"What do you mean, *I* get to choose how much to pay??"  Yes, because we charge on a sliding scale, you really do get to choose how much you pay for your treatment.  How awkward is that?

"What do you mean, 'tell *you* when I'm ready to get up'?" Yes, because we have many chairs, you get to rest as long as you like, from 20 short minutes to an hour or more if you feel like it.  There's no rush, take all the time you need.

Community acupuncture is awkward because unlike just about every other mode of healing, from hospital visits to chiropractors to physiotherapists to private acupuncture practices, it's about empowering *you* to make decisions about your health. 

What's it worth to you, and how much can you comfortably afford?  You have the power to decide, and to protect your pocketbook while at the same time getting the care you deserve. 

How long should a treatment last? It's up to you to listen to your body and make the call when you're feeling ready.

It's awkward, but also very exciting, to  know that we are here to help you in your process, not to impose our process on you. How awkward is that?

This story was posted on December 12 2011 by Karen Grosskreutz.

Comments

  • December 13 2011 at 1:48 PM
    MichelleRivers writes:

    Thanks for bringing this up. I’ve been mulling over similar ideas lately, but still have more questions than answers at this point.

    There is definitely something awkward about the choices new patients are presented with upon arriving at our clinic, and I’m not sure I’d say that they can all be re-framed in a positive light as “empowering.” Choose what to pay, choose where to sit, choose when to leave, choose when to return. Raised as a middle-class American, I’ve been accustomed and acculturated to think “more choice = more freedom = better.” But, I’ve been really questioning that in the last several years.

    I recognize choice as integral to the sliding scale, which is integral to CA, and so will leave that off to the side of this discussion – it’s an important bit of choice to leave in the patients’ hands.

    Other choices – maybe not so much? Maybe we’re not always doing them a favor by dumping choices on them one after another. After all, my patients don’t come through the door saying: “Please empower me to make my own choices about my health care,” and I in no way take that as my mission. They say: “Please help me with my xxx pain/illness/distress.” My mission is to make the clinic simple and comfortable for them to use, and I’m exploring how – sometimes – that means being firm and directive.

    I often have patients who are uncertain about the open treatment room the first time they walk in, and seem hesitant and nervous to pick a chair. I just smile, gesture to an open seat, and say “make yourself comfortable.” I’ll tell people where to sit if it helps them relax. And I’ll tell people how long to stay if that’s going to help them have an easier time using the clinic. Sometimes I experience it as almost a plea, either verbally or non-verbally: “You tell me how long to stay…” I see this choice, in those instances, as a source of stress that’s utterly avoidable. I’ll say “Give it at least 45 minutes,” - or 30 - for folks who seem very restless or nervous. When to come back? I write that out in a treatment plan for new patients to take home with them. In writing, it’s quite directive and explicit. When I hand it to them, I say: “This is what I would do.” I’m hoping that turns out to be a nice mix of: a. directiveness - for people who relax with explicit instructions, and b. choice and options - for people who find comfort in having control.

    This has been particularly on my mind lately, since I feel like I’ve failed to be culturally competent with a handful of my patients. Every so often, I have an elder member of the local Hmong community visit the clinic, and in each case I’ve felt like I missed some important piece in gaining their confidence. Yes, I know for sure that acupuncture can help their pain (which has been the primary chief complaint for this population in our clinic). And yet, I’m failing to create the rapport that is necessary for them to return. Do I need to step it up and be even more directive? Would it be most helpful for this patient group if I could muster and project a greater sense of authority? I’ve done some reading lately (book: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down) that makes me think this could be an important piece. I’m thinking kindness is being who people need me to be, always and only within the wide spectrum of behaviors that are available in my own authentic self. Wondering.

    Thanks in advance for the dialogue,
    Michelle

      0 likes
  • December 14 2011 at 8:13 AM
    Spartacus writes:

    I’ve found that the choices are less overwhelming when they’re not so much dumped as guided through the first time or two.  “Yes you can rest as long as you like, and try to do a minimum of 30 minutes, and it’s ok if you conk out for an hour and a half, I have some mega-snoozers who come in and zonk out for even longer than that!” I’ll tell people they can sit wherever they like, but it tends to be cooler towards the back of the space and warmer up front.  I find that by the third time people really have ownership, plop down in the same chair and get themselves situated easily.  The reassurances seem to get people comfortable, then they can get acquainted with their own needs without it being so overwhelming.

      0 likes
  • December 28 2011 at 10:35 PM
    Paul Kohlmeier writes:

    I don’t think that more choice=more freedom=better. Don’t get me wrong, I like choice, but if we have too many choices, it creates opportunity to freeze, to stop moving, to become stuck like our patients’ qi.

    I also do not agree that the sliding scale is integral to the community acupuncture movement/model. I see it as an expression of some of the ideas, but not the quintessential aspect making it different from all other acupuncture models. I think affordable acupuncture is the key, no matter how it is represented in individual clinics. Price yourself the lowest you can go. Never mind the superfluous upper end of the price range. Just include a tip option and you are good to go. People who think it is worth more will tip you the difference. They have the cash and they aren’t claiming it on their insurance. It is their excess.

    There is so much talk about simplify, simplify, simplify that I think we need to take a close look at that sliding scale. It is awkward. It takes to much time to explain. It causes confusion. One price is good enough. Just make it low. We look and dissect and otherwise examine lots of things in our business model, but no one challenges this. It makes me kind of sad.

    So, there is my 2 cents. Please be kind. I mean no disrespect, but it gets my back up every time I read about it, hear about it, or see it in a documentary. There are those of us who choose one price. It’s our lowest price and doesn’t seem that far off of the “average price” for treatment from the stats gathered by the yearly poll of CAPs. But we cannot use any of the marketing material, the documentaries, or anything else because of the sliding scale commentary. It doesn’t suit all of us.

    Be well my friends.

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