What Is Community Acupuncture?
The Short Answer:
Community Acupuncture offers acupuncture:
in a setting where multiple patients receive treatments at the same time;
by financially sustainable and accountable means; and
within a context of accessibility created by consistent hours, frequent treatments, affordable services, and lowering all the barriers to treatment that we possibly can, for as many people as possible, while continuing to be financially self-sustaining.
The Long Answer:
Community Acupuncture is not just a description of acupuncture in a group setting, but also describes who is served by acupuncture: our communities. Community Acupuncture is not a one-way relationship of acupuncturists to their communities but the relationship of communities to acupuncture, the clinic, practitioners, and other staff. Community Acupuncture represents the connection and the contract between Acupuncture and Communities.
Acupuncture is often defined as one of the major practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine. But it is not just those who are educated to practice acupuncture who get to define what acupuncture is and isn’t. With Community Acupuncture, the definition cannot only come from those delivering care. Those who are served by acupuncture must have also have a role in defining it. To define acupuncture as a technique or part of a body of knowledge leaves out its active role in those who are most affected by it: our patients.
We need our patients and community members. We need them in many ways; without them we would have no clinics, no income, no referrals, no supporters, no critics. There would be no dynamic force to propel us forward as individual clinics or as a growing national and world movement of affordable healthcare for our communities.
The contract between a community acupuncture clinic and the community it serves is simple. The clinic will work to serve you and your families by being here when you need us to provide acupuncture to relieve your pain and suffering. The community will come for acupuncture, pay for treatments, and participate in supporting the clinic in other ways. As in all contracts, both parties give and receive. A community acupuncture clinic is committed to keeping its doors open during hours that the community needs and it receives the presence of those who come. The community gives its endorsement of acupuncture’s effectiveness, to the affordable sliding scale, to the comfort and accessibility of a community acupuncture clinic, and it receives a reliable resource to maintain or improve the health of its members.
At the root of every helping profession is altruism, or the desire to help others bear their burdens. But altruism alone cannot sustain our choice to join the acupuncture profession and to bring this beautiful, simple, and effective medicine to others. Acupuncture is also a source of livelihood for its practitioners. A Community Acupuncture cooperative (POCA) extends the power of this giving and receiving beyond our locales to wider and wider circles of inter-connected clinics and communities.
Do you have lingering questions?
Am I missing out on good acupuncture points while in Community Acupuncture?
No. No matter what style of acupuncture you receive or with whom, there will be excellent and effective points used, and good points that are not chosen. No one kind of acupuncture is able to use all acupuncture points at once – and nor should they...that would be a heckuva lot of needles! Your best bet is to leave the point selections to your acupuncturist, while giving them feedback about how treatments are helping to change your patterns of illness or injury.
How can you afford to charge so little?
Because we treat lots of people. What's most important to a community acupuncturist is to give many people the chance to receive treatments. Likewise, the business needs to see many people in order to make ends meet. We want acupuncture to be readily available to help take care of the health of our neighbors and communities.
Do I have to take my clothes off for treatment?
Absolutely not. To get ready for a treatment, you just need to roll up your pant legs and shirt sleeves, as points on the lower arms and legs are the most commonly used. If we need access to areas above the knee or up to the shoulder we’ll ask you to wear shorts or a tee shirt.
A picture is worth a thousand words!
(CA Lifestyle watercolor by James Lorr and Laura Gillen)
... so is the Official CA Documentary,