So, You Want to Try Acupuncture, Now What?
If you’re looking for acupuncture therapy, one thing you’re going to have to decide is: Who will be your acupuncturist? This is an important question because Acupuncture therapy generally takes time and works a a course of treatment, this can be 5, 10, 20, or more sessions. You want to be confident that you are working with a practitioner who understands you and someone who you will feel comfortable with. It’s just natural that certain people work better with certain other people.
So, aside from the nature of affinity and personality conflicts, a concern that many people have when considering Acupuncture care is, “What makes for a good Acupuncturist?”
Here are some important questions to consider when looking for an acupuncturist.
- Are they Licensed?
- Will they listen?
- Are they experienced?
- What do other patients say about them?
- Do they have a good “bed side manner”
- Are they sensitive and aware?
- What do they study?
- Do they use various modalities, or just needles?
- Will they help counsel you on life-style adjustments that will help with your life?
- Do they use electrostim?
- Are they able to communicate in a way that make sense to you?
- Do they keep needles off the floor?
- Is the table / chair comfortable?
- Is the space conducive to a healing experience?
- Do you trust them?
- Are they focused on you, or are they running from room to room?
- Are they healthy themselves?
- Do they offer a free consultation so you can get a feel for the space and ask such questions?
Hello, My name is Justin Burkett. I am a Nationally certified California licensed Acupuncturist, license #AC8344. I would like to answer these questions for you and then tell you more about how I like to work.
Are they Licensed?
I have been practicing acupuncture for 20 years. I graduated from Samra University of Oriental Medicine and hold a Master’s Degree in Oriental Medicine. In order to practice acupuncture you need to be licensed by the state you practice in. In order to be licensed you must sit for an intensive State Board exam that tests your knowledge on Chinese Medicine Theory, Basic Sciences, Western Medical terminology, Anatomy and Physiology as well as Acupuncture Point Location and knowledge of Chinese Herbal Medicine. You’ll be happy to know that I passed that exam on my first attempt. Prior to studying Chinese Medicine to become an acupuncturist, I was a premed student studying biochemistry at UCLA where I received a bachelors in Biochemistry. Some of the big lessons I learned in my studies is that the human body is an amazing biochemical factory, AND what we call that much of biochemistry and molecular biology is electricomagnetic in character.
Will they listen?
One of the things I’ve learned in practice is that people come to see me after they get desperate and frustrated with conventional options. I’ve heard from my patients over and over again that they feel their doctors don’t take the time to listen. Listening is one of the four diagnostic methods in Chinese medicine. It’s critical to good outcomes. This involved listening to your words as well as the tone of your voice. In regards to listening, I spend much of my free time, writing and producing songs and music, and listening skills are very important in that arena as well.
Are they experienced?
I have been practicing for 20 years in a variety of settings. from my first job with a chiropractor in a pain clinic treating people who were injured in accidents and while working. This gave me a lot of opportunity to work with a variety of people and to see the power of acupuncture to deal with chronic and acute conditions. One very important thing that I learned, is that the earlier you address things with acupuncture, the easier it is to restore balance.
What do other patients say about them?
some patients take it upon themselves to share with the world their experiences with acupuncture, such as with google reviews or yelp reviews. Other people are more private. But I can tell you, that one of the things I hear a lot is a desire for a patient to share this therapy with their loved ones and friends and family. “Oh I’ve got to get my husband in here, they’ve got such and such and issue. That is a true honor and something that I don’t take lightly. In fact, I hold it as a central tenant of the work I do, that whatever healing that happens from a visit to my clinic goes into the world and creates harmonic ripples and the healing work continues out in the world.
Do they have a “good bed-side manner”
In my experience as a receiver of acupuncture one of the more profound effects is its ability to put the body into a state of deep relaxation. In this state of deep relaxation, the needles and electro stim work to stimulate the acupuncture system and the nervous system to produce the biochemicals required for healing and to open up the passageways for those biochemicals to get where they need to go. As I work with people I see myself as a kind of guide, guiding the awareness into the realm of the subtle. The time that I spend with a patient is an opportunity to create this experience and to help to install a healing program into consciousness. It’s very important that my patients feel comfortable with the process and they feel free to help guide me as well. A key to good acupuncture is the use of the correct point. Palpation is a tool that ensures we are indeed working with active points.
Are they sensitive and aware?
There are many signals that we are communicating with as human beings. We communicate not just with our words, but with our gestures and with our tone and reactions. As I work with people I’m tuning into all of these things. So many times dealing with human health and disease is a bit like detective work: uncovering clues; putting the pieces of a puzzle together, even something as straightforward as an accident can have many layers of trauma that get dealt with.
What do they study?
In order to maintain my license, I need to take 25 units of continuing education every year. My main areas of interest are electroacupuncture, qi gong, physiology, physical medicine. Additionally, to stay sharp as a practitioner I find myself looking to understand more about cellular metabolism and systems and to be able to integrate that understanding with chinese medicine and the acupuncture system. I take regular coursed in electroacupuncture medicine, which has proven to be very enlightening.
Do they use various modalities, or just needles?
Chinese Medicine is a holistic medical system. Acupuncture is a very important modality that allows the practitioner to help to adjust the energy flow through the system, to encourage healing energy flow to the part of the system that needs healing energy. We also want to address factors that will create imbalances in the flow of healing energy. Stress and “sympathetic dominance” is when the body is a continuous state of “fight or flight”. This is exhausting and gets in the way of healing. So while a patient is with me, I use a variety of tools to help switch the body out of sympathetic dominance. One modality that I use a lot is reflexology. While a person is lying with acupuncture is a perfect opportunity to have a 20 – 25 minute reflexology session. Not only is this very relaxing, but it sends signals to the brain that help to coordinate the healing response. After the needles have been retained for that 25 minutes or so, I like to then perform a dynamic cupping session, where glass cups are glided over the muscles and nerves of the back. If there is time and if it makes clinical sense I will do a second session of needles on the other side of the body, and I like to send all of my patients home with ear seeds.
Will they help counsel you on life-style adjustments that will help with your life?
Indeed. The goal of Chinese Medicine is to bring the body back to a state of balance. This can only go so far without making changes to your life. Some examples are discussions we will have about food, about exercise and stretching, about supplements and sleep and skin brushing and making sure you are checking in with your personal progress.
Do they use electrical stimulation?
Electrostim is an invaluable tool to the acupuncture experience. The acupuncture channel system is comprised of fascia and connective tissue, it is like the body’s bioelectronic matrix. by providing electrons in the form of biphasic pulsed signals of various frequencies, we can stimulate the body to produce natural pain killers; anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory substances,
Are they able to communicate in a way that make sense to you?
I see myself as a guide. I think the real gem of Chinese Medicine is the underlying philosophy. Acupuncture and herbs and massage are all great and important modalities, but to get the most out of the experience there is an opportunity to expand awareness of the subtle realms and to implement those concepts of yin and yang and the 5 elements and qi essence and shen into the day to day living. For example, I’m happy when my patients gain an awareness of the impact anger or repressed anger can have on the Liver. But I’m happier still when my patients are free from pain and find that their relationships improve because they are not so angry.
do they keep needles off the floor?
in addition to keeping tabs on the needles I place, I do a daily scan of the floor for errant needles,
Is the table / chair comfortable?
I use a high quality massage table with an adjustable face cradle and arm supports that is heated in the winter as needed
Is the space conducive to a healing experience?
I share an office suite with 2 physical therapists. The suite is carpeted and the walls are well insulated for noise. I use an air filter in the room. and keep it clean. I like to work with light ambient music with no words or beats.
Do you trust them?
I aim to be straightforward with people and offer hope and inspiration with reasonable expectations.
Are they focused on you, or are they running from room to room?
Many acupuncture clinics work on a “mill philosophy”. The goal, it seems, is to see as many people as possible and will put needles in a patient and then go to the next patient, spending less than 15 minutes to listen and to place the needle. I can understand that, from a business sense, maybe this makes sense, and I don’t doubt there are many talented acupuncturists working this way. But in my personal opinion I think the care suffers. I personally feel an obiligation as an acupuncturist to be sure to attend to my patient as best I can. For me this means, slowing down, taking time to listen and to accurately locate the points with palpation or other means. And because I only work in one room this gives me an opportunity to work with other modalities, such as reflexology acupressure, micro current or cupping. Plus I know that I’ll be there if the patient needs me because perhaps a needle shifted, or there’s an urgent need of some sort.
Are they healthy themselves?
I feel a responsibility to my patients to be healthy and to eat right and get enough sleep and meditate and take care of my body so that it can do the work of taking care of their bodies.
Do they offer a free consultation so you can get a feel for the space and ask questions about your particular concern?
A free consultation is a great way to do just that, and a perfect way to start the conversation.
Your initial consultation is free. Come meet us in person and learn more.
This is an example of the flow of a typical treatment I offer in my practice
Intake / Check in
Comprehensive Treatment Promotes Holistic Healing
Chinese Medicine is a Holistic Medical system that has been in development for thousands of years. The modern Acupuncture practitioner has all of that as well as modern discoveries such as electro acupuncture medicine at his or her disposal. I do my best to apply the appropriate tools and methods in the time we spend together in a session to give you a comprehensive experience that stimulates a holistic healing response.
Phase 1: Checking in / Taking intake
This is the part where we make decision about how we are going to work based on your progress. It’s important to note improvements and .deficiencies and what in your life might be affecting your health- both positive and negative. This a time for setting intentions for the session. Having a clear vision and a reasonable expectation are the way forward on this journey into wellness.
Phase 2: Acupuncture
Based on the health report and the decisions we make in phase 1, we move onto the acupuncture phase of the session. The information from the check-in helps guide my palpation. Ultimately though, it’s the points that will let us know if they are going to be useful or not. When a point is reactive on palpation, it tells me that there is a receptivity to healing signals. After scanning the body and deciding on a circuit of points, I will place the needles into the chosen points, and then apply electrical current via an electro acupuncture device into certain points. The needles will generally be retained from 20-30 minutes.
Phase 3: Reflexology
Whilst the needles and the electro stim are doing their work promoting the production of neuro-endocrine signals as well as pain relieving and anti-inflammatory biochemicals, we have a chance to experience the holistic benefits of foot reflexology. The addition of foot reflexology seems to really enhance the effectiveness of the session. The foot carries and reflects the whole body, and by working out the little crystalline deposits that accumulate at the foot reflexology points, the holographic mapping system is further informed where to direct the healing energy that the acupuncture is stimulating.
Phase 4: Dynamic Cupping
After lying down with needles and electro stimulation, the body / mind gets into a bit of spacey space. Energy is liberated. Circuits have been activated. This a great time to add yet another holographic modality into the mix: Dynamic Cupping. With a little bit of coconut oil to allow the cup to glide, I will create a vacuum in the cup by burning out the oxygen and then apply the cup to the skin of the back. Along side the spine are a chain of nerve complexes called the sympathetic chain ganglia. These are reflex centers where people become habitually stressed as a response to the stressors of our life. By gliding the cup over this chain of nerves we can reduce the pressure on the nerves by relaxing the muscular tension sitting on top of them. This allows the energy to flow in and out of the spinal chord that much more easily.
Phase 5: Auriculotherapy (“Ear Seeds”)
Now that we’ve done our clinical work to initiate a transformation, it’s time to go back into your world, back into the patterns that have brought you here. Hopefully you’ve learned something and have grown from the experience and will be able to approach the world more with greater vitality, knowing that bigger effects of today won’t be seen until tomorrow. It takes time for the stimulation provided by acupuncture to manifest as the production of the anti-inflammatories and pain killers in your brain pharmacy. There are some effects just after treatment, but definitely more to come. One way to prolong the effects and to continue to stimulate the self-healing mechanisms is to use the holographic Auricle. I typically will use an acupuncture point detector / stimulator to electronically find points on the ear. (the device measures a decrease in electrical conductivity, and the points are connected via nerves that inform the brain and receive signals from the brain. When there is a measurable reactivity at a point, it is telling of an imbalance in that part of the body.) So once I find and stimulate point electronically, I will then tape small “ear seeds” to the points. These “ear seeds” stay on for maybe 3 or 4 days and give you an opportunity to press the point and stimulate the self healing at that part of your body.
I hope this little primer helps you to understand not only the importance of choosing a practitioner that is right for you, but that it also gives you a sense of my personality, and a view into some of my treatment philosophy. This is very much a personalized medicine the way that I have come to practice it. If you would like to meet me and have a consultation and get a feel for the space and energy I hold, please feel free to reach out through the chat box, give me a call, or request a free consultation.
I look forward to helping guide you to a healthier, more energized version of you.
Justin Burkett, L.Ac.