This post is being written on special request from a dear friend. Antonia, this one is for you. If you’ve ever wondered how to choose an acupuncturist (or any health care professional!) this one is for you too.
When Antonia asked me to write a post about how to choose an acupuncturist, I thought it was a great idea. I quickly realized, however, that it is actually quite a complicated topic and requires a great deal of thought. The ideas need to be broken down by country, personality type, needs and a host of other ingredients that go into finding the person who you click with. Finding the person who you click with is both the first and final necessity in this process. It’s like choosing a partner. If there’s no flow between you, find someone else.
So, with that, I’ll begin.
- There has got to be flow.
The trick with this is that you often don’t know if there’s flow until you meet someone. This is steadily changing as people’s websites are upgraded to better represent them as a person instead of being a huge FAQ list on what acupuncture is and what it can do. Ultimately, the relationship that you have with them is just as, if not more, important than their needling and herb mixing skills. Sometimes, you can get a glimpse of if this person is suitable by sending them a quick email or calling to ask a quick question. Even better if they have a great website that makes it clear who they are and who they like to work with.
- You must know your needs.
Are you someone who does best with tough love? A soft voice? A more medical looking facility? Do you want them to be in a lab coat? Yoga clothes? Scrubs? Are you looking for someone to help you with something that is purely physical (no such thing in my book – which means I wouldn’t be the best practitioner for you ;))? Do you want someone that is intuitive and can help you work with emotions as well? Do you want a full hour to yourself or are you okay being one of a few patients at a time after your first visit? How much money can you spend? Do you need a community style clinic for financial reasons? Do you prefer paying a premium for a premium service?
The more you know about yourself and your needs, the easier it is to find someone that matches them. If you go in without examining your expectations, you will likely be surprised. Sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not. Choose an acupuncturist who is most likely to meet your needs.
- You should feel comfortable with the amount of education they have.
In the US, acupuncturists need to have a Master’s degree. This is a mandatory to pass national boards. Many states require national boards to get a state license. California and NJ (I think) have their own state boards. Check their Linkedin profiles for continuing education and courses they may have done. It might be outside the realm of Chinese medicine but if you are looking for someone to help you with motivation and you see they did a life coaching training then this can help you make a decision. Don’t be afraid to ask practitioners outside of the States what their schooling was like if you’re concerned and they don’t have a Linkedin profile or the info isn’t on their website. Someone who is focused on your health won’t mind answering this question.
- If possible, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and everything else
I have people that follow me on Facebook for months before they make an appointment. It gives them a chance to get to know me a bit and gives them access to reviews and testimonials from other patients. I have even had patients message a patient of mine that left me a good review to ask them their advice on working with me. As a rule, when people send me testimonials for my website, I ask them to add in who shouldn’t make an appointment to see me. This might seem counterintuitive, but there are people that feel great with me and people that I make uncomfortable. If you already know you fall into the category of people who doesn’t like being confronted with their stuff, you save us both time and energy.
There are so many ways to get information on people these days, use as many as you have access to and feel comfortable with. If you think someone would be a good fit and then you follow them on Instagram and they are only posting pictures of desserts with the hashtag #treatyoself and you’re looking to lose weight… you might want to find someone else.
- Get a recommendation
Choose an acupuncturist that someone you know has already chosen. I have gotten 95% of my patients this way throughout the years. At the end of the day, knowing that someone else is satisfied automatically increases your chances of feeling satisfied as well. If someone does make a recommendation, ask them for details: Why do they like the practitioner? What’s their personality like? Etc. etc.
- There has got to be flow.
These are the points that should help you to choose an acupuncturist (or any other health care professional!). First, start with a list of what and who you are looking for and for what problem/problems. Don’t leave anything out – even problems you aren’t sure acupuncture can help (we often surprise you with solutions for those ;)).
Then, find out who is in your area. In some places, you might need to stretch the area that you are looking in if there aren’t a ton of options. Find their websites, Facebook and Linkedin accounts. The more info you can find, the better. Drop them a quick email or phone call. Use their contact form if they have one. Read their reviews and testimonials. If you’re feeling brave, contact a patient from their facebook page and ask about something that is concerning you.
**Be aware that yelp is the worst dot com. They hold back good reviews until you pay them and generally are PITAs. A lot of great yelp reviews is a great thing, but a couple of bad ones might be an indication of 2 bad patients over 10 years and a practitioner’s unwillingness to pay yelp for the positive reviews that their patient’s left them. They might be the best person in town. Look for other clues if you run into this.
And finally, as it was firstly… When and if you do meet them … there must be flow. You should feel good with them. You should, at least to a degree, like them. There’s no need to be choosing them as your newest bestie, but you should look forward to the time that you spend with them because you know you’ll feel better and be listened to and acknowledged.
For my patients and other acupuncture patients out there: How did you choose me (or your acupuncturist)?