Community acupuncture can be an excellent option for individuals on a budget to receive healing acupuncture treatments. Many people may be pleasantly surprised to find community acupuncture near them as a treatment option. Historically, community acupuncture is used widely throughout Asia as there was a need for people to get treatment regularly, frequently, and affordably.
Community acupuncture is gaining traction as a much needed low-cost option for those who are curious about acupuncture, but have not wanted to take the plunge due to possibly higher cost or their licensed acupuncturist being out of network with their insurance. Even for acupuncturists who are in network with insurances, it will depend on the patient’s plan if acupuncture is covered, and the patient may need to pay out of pocket anyway. Essentially, community acupuncture takes the guesswork out of trying acupuncture for the first time, and is a great option for natural healthcare.
What is Community Acupuncture?
Community acupuncture takes place in a room where several patients are receiving treatment at the same time. The ambiance is peaceful and quiet, so each patient is able to relax into his or her treatment.
Although it is done in a group instead of one-on-one, don’t worry, you won’t be showing much skin as treatments are primarily on the front of the body using what acupuncturists call distal points. Distal points are ones that work for, let’s say back pain, that are not located in the back itself, but are along the proper meridian (channels in the body through which Qi – pronounced “chee” – and other substances flow) for treatment of the back.
Community acupuncture treatments are performed on the following locations of the body:
- Provides acupuncture by financially sustainable & accountable means
- Gives accessibility by having consistent hours, frequent treatments, lowering barriers to treatment, and affordable services.
Some patients may prefer community acupuncture because it allows them more frequent access to treatment, compared to one-on-one sessions, which can be more costly. There are many who do not take the leap to try acupuncture simply because it is beyond their budget. Community acupuncture gives everyone equal opportunity to obtain the care they may need.
Basically, the hair-thin needles will be placed in the exposed areas of the skin that effectively treat your issue that brought you in for treatment. The practice of acupuncture requires repetition, and community acupuncture turns that into a reality for all people in the community.
What is the Cost of Community Acupuncture?
Most community acupuncture clinics work on a sliding scale system in order to make acupuncture more affordable. Although acupuncture in a one-on-one office setting is still more affordable than many western medicine treatments, it may not be in everyone’s budget. The difference with a sliding scale is that it is set in a range (anywhere between $15 – $50) that includes many people of mid to low income.
The really good part about a sliding scale is that it is a somewhat “pay what you can” model without having patient income verification to determine what can be paid. There are some clinics that have also decided to drop the sliding scale and charge an affordable flat fee based on the majority of the community. Both of these options are ways to lower the barrier of receiving acupuncture treatments, and also breaks down class barriers creating a better feeling within the community. How can community acupuncture clinics afford to charge so little? They treat lots of people. It’s that simple.
What Can I Expect At a Community Acupuncture Treatment?
The goal of a community room is to allow the community members to create a soothing atmosphere right along with the licensed acupuncturists. The atmosphere is created together with a collective healing energy. With this in mind, it is always recommended to avoid socializing while in the room, and if anything needs to be said to your acupuncturist that it is done is whispers.
How to prepare for your community acupuncture session:
- Make yourself comfortable before getting started – treatments take place in comfortable recliners, so pick a spot and find a position or angle in the recliner that feels relaxing. There will usually be blankets, sheets, cushions, or things of the like available to you in order to create warmth or support for the back, neck or knees. Additionally, many clinics will also recommend earplugs, headphones, and/or eye coverings to maintain your own peaceful atmosphere.
- Wear loose fitting & comfortable clothing – when you arrive, roll up sleeves above the elbows, pants above the knees, and remove shoes.
- Refrain from using outside fragrances – try not to wear perfumes, scented oils, scented hair products, or cologne before coming in for treatment to respect the community atmosphere. There may be people within the clinic who are very sensitive to fragrances.
- Arrive before your appointment time – this is true for most appointments that we make on a daily basis, but whether you are a new or returning patient at a community acupuncture clinic, you should arrive 10 – 15 minutes early so that you can prepare your clothing, remove shoes, and get comfortable in your recliner. By your appointment time, you should be comfortably relaxed in the chair.
- Respect the quiet atmosphere – be sure to turn off your cell phones when entering the clinic in order to get the relaxation/treatment you deserve as well as being respectful to those who have come to relax & renew.
- Eat – have something to eat an hour before treatment.
- Give yourself time – if it is possible, allow yourself some time after your session to allow yourself to relax.
These are all things to make sure you and your community have the best treatment possible. You will be in the chair for between 30 minutes to an hour. You will be surrounded by other people quietly receiving treatment at the same time.
Is Community Acupuncture Right for You?
Patients can benefit from the style of community acupuncture in many ways. In today’s stressful, on-the-go world, it is not often that we stop and take the time to relax with our peers, neighbors, or community. Community acupuncture should not be viewed as a lack of privacy, but rather as a chance to experience treatment with those around your community, and the shared environment can make individual treatments that much more powerful.
An analysis from 2013, Patient Perspectives on Care Received at Community Acupuncture Clinics, where patients reported a positive experience with receiving community acupuncture calling it “empowering, allowing them to exercise control over when and how they are treated.”
Simplify care, build community, and make treatment accessible to the majority of people. These are basic goals of community acupuncture. The patients create the healing atmosphere as much as the licensed acupuncturists. Community acupuncture offers effective, affordable, quality acupuncture in a relaxing communal environment in a group effort to remove the barrier of cost from healing.
Be sure to check out the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA), whose goal is to work cooperatively to increase accessibility to and availability of affordable group acupuncture treatments.
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