Acupuncture Treatment Styles

Guided by traditional diagnosis and grounded in Chinese medical science, acupuncture treatment has been used for many centuries to alleviate acute and chronic disorders of all kinds. It is the most well known modality in Chinese medicine, and has been developed into culturally unique versions in Korea, Japan, the UK and many other places.

Different styles of acupuncture

If you go to ten different acupuncturists in the US, you might notice ten unique interpretations of the modality. While those of us born in the US are guided by a unified curricular format determined by the requirements of licensure and ethical practice, the medicine lends itself to the development of lineage and personal styles.

In 5 element acupuncture, for example, points are fewer, used with slightly different intention than in other forms of practice, and the stimulation tends to be gentle. Gentle stimulation is also a hallmark of Japanese acupuncture, and yet it differs from 5 element acupuncture in its interpretation of the channel system and the treatment protocols.

The stimulation tends to be more intense in mainland Chinese styles, and those who practice more classical Chinese styles of acupuncture tend also to needle deeper, use bigger gauge needles and stimulate those needles more intensely. That said, even strong stimulation with needles is often much less painful than people nervous about acupuncture would expect.

Even those who consider themselves to practice more or less “by the book” (meaning the standard China-based TCM methods) often display a unique style in terms of how they dictate the flow of treatment, the way they hold the treatment space, and their actual technique with the needles. So, there really is no single way that acupuncture treatment plays out.

Find below descriptions of our acupuncturists’ styles in their own words!

Melinda’s style

I draw upon several different acupuncture techniques and styles depending on the needs of my patients, including Five Element and alchemical acupuncture which focus on the links between mind, emotions and body in pain and illness, Japanese style, and classical Chinese style.

I will often use auricular acupuncture, or ear points, which can help with a wide variety of issues, including stress, PTSD, illness and pain.

For more sensitive patients I frequently use Japanese acupuncture techniques, which are quite gentle, including the use of tools such as the teishin and zanshin that can stimulate points and channels without puncturing the skin. While gentle, these tools and techniques are also highly effective and helpful.

I may also use techniques that blend osteopathic and Asian medicine to finding blockages in the body to help me know which points, channels and areas of the body are most in need of treatment.

The acupuncture style I use in your treatment be just one of the above or a blend of all of them. It depends on what you need on the day that you come in for a treatment, and what we find works best for you as we continue to work together.

Eric’s style

I am one of those rare acupuncturists that started out with a real fear of needles! Because of this, and due to the mentors I was exposed to, I use a generally gentle and minimal approach that contains aspects of 5 element acupuncture and Japanese acupuncture.

If needed, I will use more intense techniques – but those instances are rare. Further, for me, all things being equal the most important thing to me is that you are able to relax and enjoy your treatment. While most of us understand that some discomfort may be necessary to get and stay healthy, I don’t see any reason to make that discomfort more profound than it absolutely needs to be! We will always talk about what I plan to do, and make sure it doesn’t cross any difficult boundaries for you.

I believe that treatment is more effective when all the senses and aspects of a person are being impacted.  Music, essential oils and appropriate lighting all help to put you into a relaxed state of mind. The surface you rest on is warm and comfortable, and I use various methods to make sure you don’t get chilly as you lie there during treatment. This combination of overt treatment (the needles), sound (music), scent (essential oils) and care paid to your warmth and softness seem to have a more powerful effect than any of those aspects alone.

Finally, know that I can – and often do – use non-insertive techniques in treatment. Cupping, moxibustion, various types of bodywork and qigong can all be used to stimulate the body in ways similar to acupuncture. If you want to learn more about the non-insertive techniques, please click here. While there are times that needling a point is absolutely necessary – we can always discuss other options – never hesitate to start a conversation about this.

Ryan’s Style

When you visit me for an acupuncture appointment you will find that I believe a healthy dialogue is paramount to a relaxing and beneficial treatment.  If at any time you have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask.  I enjoy talking about acupuncture and understand that you might have a few questions and think you should have a basic understanding as to what it is we are working to achieve. 

Your comfort is crucial for a successful treatment so I will often use different size and style needles during a single appointment.  If you are more at ease, I believe you will have a better treatment.  Quite often, acupuncture will work as a stand alone treatment but sometimes needles are not a viable option so we can discuss using cupping and/or moxibustion as well.  There are innumerable paths forward in Classical Chinese Medicine and we will work together to find the right path for your personal needs and goals. 

I often combine elements from several schools of thought in Classical Chinese Medicine into my own personal style and will adjust the treatment protocol to fit your needs as we move forward together.  Often during a treatment regimen your needs will change and we will vary treatments accordingly.

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