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  • Writer's picturePaula Wilson-Young

What to expect from your Initial acupuncture consultation and treatment

You can watch the video or have a wee read - its the same information :)

What to expect during your first acupuncture consultation

Hello and welcome to Health Rediscovered - your catalyst to vitality.

I am Paula Wilson-Young, a degree qualified, accredited acupuncturist who's been in practice since 2007. You can read more about me here

This information is intended for those who have already decided that acupuncture is the right choice for them, or are seriously considering it, but might be curious or nervous about what will happen during that initial acupuncture consultation.

Step 1

Just to set the scene – you have arrived at the 3rd floor, pressed the buzzer and been greeted by me (or rarely one of the other therapists here). (how to find us!) Many choose to nip to the toilet before they come in to the clinic space for their first acupuncture consultation, but don’t worry – you are welcome to go later if it required – no hall pass needed – however keys are!! Both the man and female (sorry, no gender neutral - I don’t have control) toilets are behind locked doors – gents loo right next to my clinic, but female across the landing.

There is a wee welcoming calm reception area if your super early, but generally when you arrive you'll be taken straight into my treatment room.

Step 2

Next I'll offer to take your coat to hang it up – brollies can go in the brolly space in the reception if they are wet.

What happens in the initial acupuncture consultation?

I can only speak for how I work of course, I know I allow more time for the initial acupuncture consultation than many of my colleagues, but I’m quite sure I’m not the longest either!

You get 90 minutes of my time, during which we will chat A LOT, and you’ll get your first treatment.

We begin with conversation/consultation.

Part 1

Firstly I have the “boring bit”: name/address, next of kin etc.

I then invite you to share why you are at the clinic - your ‘presenting condition’: the reason you sought acupuncture treatment. I’ll guide you in sharing your story of what is happening, what it feels like for you (not simply the western label) but how it truly affects you.

For example: for those of you with back pain, I'll as you questions like:

  • what type of pain?

  • where do you feel it?

  • How long has it been there?

  • Any causes you know of?

  • What makes it feel worse?

  • Does anything make it feel better?

  • Is there a time of day that is worse than others?

  • Does quality of sleep affect it – or does the pain affect your sleep?

  • How is it effecting other areas of your life – your mood, your energy levels, your ability to work and so on

Or if you are having acupuncture with me because of your anxiety:

  • How long has it been a problem?

  • How does it manifest: what does anxiety feel like to you?

  • Does it affect you physically (e.g. panic attacks, or IBS type symptoms, headaches, insomnia.. )?

  • Does anything make it better?

  • Does anything make it worse?

  • How is it affecting other areas of your life – your mood, your energy levels, your ability to work and so on

One of the wonderful things about acupuncture is that we can treat more than one thing at the same time – in fact there is no limit in my opinion. I also find they are often related in the TCEAM model of health – whereas the biomedical model don’t seem to appreciate the relationship between things like quality of sleep and pain levels, or how the menstrual cycle can affect our mood, or digestion or sleep.

We will discuss your presenting condition(s) in detail and then open the consultation up to discuss general health markers.

Part 2

This is the ’10 questions’ in TCEAM: we discuss a variety of your body’s signs and symptoms, that you may well consider completely normal but that can give us clues to what is happening in your body and therefore tailor your treatments to fully treat ALL of you.

In addition to this you will be asked about your medications, any supplements you take, an ‘average’ day diet wise, exercise levels, alcohol intake and so forth. In TCEAM we also often look at the tongue and feel the pulses to gain further insight into your body’s current patterns of harmony/disharmony. I also often palpate and assess range of movement for MSK conditions.

This is all with an open curiosity to learn about you, your body, your history and your current problems. It is not a space for hiding who you are and what you do, I promise all you share with me is honoured and will absolutely NOT be shared with anyone else (without your permission e.g. if I suggest a referral and you are happy with me sharing what I have learned with that professional).

It's my job to help you get well, to empower you to feel like you can go do it yourself. So you can figure out what's going wrong what you need to tweak within your lifestyle to make that right.

Part 3: Acupuncture treatment time!

I will then go into detail about what will happen during the treatment: the techniques I will use.

Techniques can include:

  • Acupuncture: variety of styles to draw on, from modern TCM, auricular, sa’am, five element, master tung, battlefield (auricular), scalp,

  • Electro-acupuncture & electron-adapted neurotherapy

  • moxibustion

  • Cupping

  • Gua sha

  • Massage

  • muscle energy technique

Whilst I will give an overview of what to expect before we start, ill go over some of the more common questions I am asked.

Can you see the acupuncture needles?

Honestly, only if you want to! Typically folks are lying horizontally or on their side, and you’ll only see them if you make the effort too.. if you are nervous (which 99% of folks are cos they are doing something new!) then you are entirely welcome to close your eyes, promise I won't be offended!

Does acupuncture hurt?

This is a difficult one to answer, to be honest, it depends how you define ‘hurt’. I would never say never, I think it can be a wee bit uncomfortable, but isn’t ever torturous, occasionally it can be a bit sharp feeling, but most often it creates a dull heavy sensation or a wee pinch ( but not the dentists idea of a wee scratch!) or it can feel a bit tingly. I wouldn’t describe acupuncture as painful, but more often weird feeling!

If it helps to alleviate your fears: here is me stabbing a balloon without bursting it!

I also know you’ll never believe me until you’ve tried it for yourself… you’ll just have to trust me when I say that 95% of folks drift off to AcuSnooze© land during their treatments.

Where do the needles go?

It does vary from person to person, but as a general rule, you are going to look like your going paddling: so from knees down, elbows down, almost always head/scalp, and back or abdomen depending on what the focus is, sometimes also ears. They do not always go where the pain is, as then we are treating the symptom and not the root.

As I said a couple of times in this video I will go through it with you in person in the room I just like to try and give people as much information as possible.

Knowledge is power and all that kinda jazz!! I know that, for me, if I know what's coming I know what to expect I'm much more relaxed about the whole situation (whatever that situation may be).

What can I expect after my acupuncture treatment?

For most folks they feel the benefit of the session almost immediately, folks generally feel more relaxed and calmer (who doesn’t need more of that in their life!) and typically have an amazing sleep that night... don't be surprised if you need an early night!

The primary condition typically starts to feel a shift by session 3 at the latest, not to say it’ll be gone, more than it will feel significantly different – be that less pain, better mood, improved digestion etc.

It is worth noting that healing is NOT linear, expect to feel a resurgence of your symptoms, expect that some days you might feel worse for a wee bit, but overall, if you complete the course of acupuncture as I suggest you will feel significant improvements, not just in WHY you are coming but in other aspects of your health.

How often do I need to come for acupuncture?

Acupuncture, like most medicines isn’t a one hit wonder – you need to have a series of treatments to really help your body heal from what ails it. For some this means sessions weekly, or twice a week, or for others fortnightly or even monthly. After you have given me all the information i need as part of your initial acupuncture consultation I will be able to give you a better idea, typically, for most I suggest starting with a minimum of 1 per week, for anything from 4-6 weeks.

Some choose to continue with monthly sessions indefinitely as they feel the power of the regular maintenance helps them to continue to feel that vitality (and there is a membership option for that).

Homework after your acupuncture consultation?

yes I said homework... (but promise it's not graded)

Within a week of your first session I will send out a PDF with an individualised self care plan that offers you options and suggestions for things you can do to help further the progress, from foods to eat more of to mindset work and some acupressure for good measure too, to helping you see what patterns that are in your life that are keeping you unwell, and offering possible alternatives.

Not only am I a degree qualified acupuncturist, I am a certified coach & mindfulness teacher, and I use ALL of this with you – its not an either or!

KNOW that I offer this information with no expectation of how much you will put into place – that is only something you can decide and I will help and support you regardless.


My promise to you

I promise to offer all the knowledge and wisdom I have with you, to help empower you to reconnect to your most vibrant healthy self, in a safe, compassionate space, with a bit of light humour and a box of tissues! I ask that, in return, you are committed to the process, you are open to ideas, to share to the best of your ability what is going on for you, and that you respect my time and the folks you many come into contact with while in the clinic.

Basically expect to be asked LOADS of questions, then get a treatment which will definitely include acupuncture but may also include cupping, electro-acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, gua sha, and massage modalities.

Not the first session, but for all future sessions you are generally left alone with a buzzer so you can relax more deeply without my chattering away in your ear!.

Welcome to Health Rediscovered – I am honoured to be part of your journey toward vitality.

I will see you very soon

If you haven't already booked and this has answered your questions you can book here

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