I think I’m pretty good at working with people who have some fear about acupuncture because of the needles. For one, I let patients know that in No Event am I going to do something they don’t want me to do and that I will only perform acupuncture after asking them if it’s okay. I also remind them that I will only be working in a specific location that we’ve talked about and that they have the power to say “not there”.
So essentially, I:
- remind them that they’re in control
- that nothing happens without their consent
- that they can consent and then change their mind
In the treatment room, I can use needles that are more gentle, intended for children or babies, and employ techniques that are mild in nature.
I let them know that some patients, on the other end of this spectrum, prefer “stronger techniques” and that as practitioners, we don’t always know which techniques a patient will prefer or respond best to. Communication is key.
I assure them that I’ll be conservative in my approach and will give a lighter treatment, even at the risk of non-effectiveness, instead of a stronger treatment, and that we can always build up to stronger-feeling treatments if they like and as they’re ready.
Some patients prefer to see the needles first while others prefer not to, so together we decide best approaches to facilitate comfort and ease. I can also describe how thin needles are, more similar to the width of a hair than what they may have experienced at doctor’s offices. I also ask if they have any concerns or questions around safety and that I’m trained to be safe.
Also, some prefer to chat or listen through the act of insertion and others prefer silence so they can breathe in/out without disruption. We discuss their preferences and then I take steps to honor them. At any time, we can slow down or stop altogether.
- creates the expectation of mellow, starting simple/light
- reminds them that different people respond and prefer different techniques
- reminds them they’re in control and we’re in this together
If they elect for just one insertion, I let them know this is a great start and that some entire treatments are just that: they shouldn’t feel like it’s not a full treatment. If they like, I will hang out with them for a few minutes making sure they’re comfortable with the feeling acupuncture produces, which is typically quite calming but is also something one feels.
We discuss whether they want me to check in on them and I give them a bell to ring me if they need me to come for immediate assistance. If they say they want to be checked in 5 minutes, I tell them that “I will return in 5minutes, not 6 or more minutes. I’m going to set a timer” and then I do.
Together, we make agreements that are followed, which helps establish trust. Anxiety and/ or panic can rise and blossom so I try to be very diligent in approach so that they trust that I’ll be there if they need me.
Acupuncture is typically relaxing, calming, sometimes even sedating, and some describe a sort of floaty sleep-like session, an “acu-nap”. Acupuncture can be very good for people who have anxiety, insomnia, depression, etc. Once they feel it, they typically come back for more. Acupuncture can be great for sensitive people.