This is one of the most common questions I get from my patients.
Everyone is curious what an acupuncturist does for their own treatment! It’s actually a more complicated answer than you’d expect, so the best I can say succinctly is “it depends.” I’ll give you the inside scoop, just like my patients, and we’ll see if the answer surprises you!
Let me begin by sharing my thoughts on the potential reasons why curiosity may be piqued.
One revolves around the all powerful dollar bill….or rather, a whole flock of them. If I can give myself treatments, don’t I save a lot in healthcare costs? They’re thinking, “If you didn’t have to pay X dollars every time you needed a treatment, you would probably save enough to pay off your student loan bills!” Well, sadly that is not the case about my student loans, but I appreciate the thought!
Another might be about self care. My patients are asking indirectly, “Do you take care of yourself by getting treatments?” In my practice, I encourage people to be the best part of themselves they can be, and it’s crucial that I work toward this goal myself.
Otherwise, frankly, I’m a bit of a fraud.
I speak to my patients about self care as a core concept for achieving balance and happiness, and it’s understandable that as a patient you’d want to know that your practitioner is following through with their end of the implicit bargain; I know I would.
Yet another might be testing my belief in the medicine I practice. “Do you think this stuff works so much so that you get it yourself?” Basically, do you talk the talk and walk the walk?
Well, I’m happy to say that I do! I believe you have to in natural health care. So much of our job is to inspire our patients to change their lifestyle, habits, or outlook on life for the better; how can we manage this if we haven’t experienced it, and continue to work on it for ourselves?
Health maintenance and preventative medicine are acupuncture’s strong suit, and both require some foresight, connection with the self, and a lot of work. Acute disease happens when we’ve ignored ourselves long enough that the body has resorted to screaming at us for attention. “You don’t want to stop what you’re doing? I’ve given you time and consequences (symptoms) to demonstrate that this is a problem. Fine, I’ll make you stop because you don’t seem to want to listen!”
In a way, acute issues can be easier to deal with than maintenance. Acutes get your attention, but they blow through quickly. The definition of an acute episode is 24-72 hours. That’s it. Resolved. Done.
Maintenance requires much more effort over the long term. It pays dividends when less acutes happen and you stay healthier mentally, emotionally, and physically. Acupuncture is the perfect tool to help you achieve this. It clears the path, calms the mind, allows you to feel more like yourself, and accelerates healing.
So what do I do for myself?
I do give myself acupuncture, but only for acute issues and if I don’t have a treatment scheduled in the next couple days. Otherwise, I receive treatments from another practitioner every 2 weeks. It’s on the calendar, it’s happening. 90 minutes; I lay down, relax, talk, process the last few weeks, and I feel better.
This schedule works for me, as I’ve found 2 weeks is about the tipping point for handling my own life events and my patients’. I even receive the same acupuncture style that I give to my patients; I believe in it that much!
Once your body has a taste of balance, it wants to stay balanced.
That’s what it’s been trying to achieve all along! Symptoms are warning signs you’re getting too far off kilter. The ship needs to be righted. As a practitioner, if your ship is listing heavily to port, you’re not going to be able to help your patients to your full potential; you’re working to rebuild your own balance.
Frequency of treatment depends on many things, such as stress, what you do for a living, family, and who you are as a person. The frequency of visits should become intuitive at some point. You listen to your body and when it feels out of balance, you know you need a treatment.
On the more preventative side, even before you feel out of balance it can be helpful, as acupuncture resets the parasympathetic, or healing, mode of the nervous system. The more you stay in this nervous system, as opposed to the sympathetic fight-or-flight system, the more balanced you’ll be.
It’s actually ideal to use acupuncture to stay ahead of the curve and maintain your health.
Could I do all my own acupuncture treatments? Yes.
Would it cost me less time and money? Yes.
Would it be as effective? Not even close.
Would it negatively affect my patients? Absolutely.
Part of healing is creating time and space for yourself. You can’t completely do that on your own. You need a neutral space where the intention is focused solely on your healing. I love my cats and husband, but they don’t always make for the most relaxing acupuncture session company.
The benefit of a therapeutic relationship with a skilled healthcare provider cannot be underestimated. They provide the space for you to express yourself, offer encouraging feedback, and genuinely want you to be the best person you can be. So much can be healed through therapeutic relationship; it is a crucial and often overlooked part of the healing process, as our current medical system doesn’t really encourage this bond.
I have found that it is worth every moment, and every penny, to be unconditionally supported on my journey toward better health.
I couldn’t have done it myself, and it’s a process that is not meant to be taken on alone. Abolish that silly American mentality of pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps-rugged-individualism-asking-for-help-is-weakness-I’ll-do-this-myself!
Reach out to a trained healthcare provider, be it an acupuncturist, naturopath, therapist, or whatever speaks to you. We’re here to help you achieve the life that you want and to be the best human being you possibly can be.