Following Asian footsteps, Community Acupuncture (treating patients in a group setting) is nothing new - its medical origins go back 5000 years. China has socialized medicine and so acupuncture is also a very accessible cost at the equivalent of a few dollars.
In North America however, Community Acupuncture is relatively new and started out as a social business model making healthcare more affordable (enter Portland, Oregon, because many cool things start there). Patients pay for their treatment based on their income and most clinics operate on an honour system (no proof of income needed) with a range in sliding scale payment options from one facility to the next. Since then, the movement has evolved immensely and hundreds of clinics have popped up in America and Canada over the past several years. It’s become a trend…
People are treated in chairs during a session of Community Acupuncture (fully clothed) so there are no linens to change like practitioners would need to after a table treatment. We use distal points (points located on the arms, hands, legs, feet and arms) and so patients are encouraged to wear loose, comfortable clothing so that they can easily roll up their pants and sleeves to give the practitioner access. Since the whole body is connected from a Chinese Medicine perspective, acu- points correlate to different organs and from there we can treat a wide range of symptoms and ailments. As well, since patients are not required to undress for their acupuncture, this saves time and the treatment duration usually ranges from 30 - 45 minutes so the practitioner can manage a higher volume of patients.
The best thing about this style of acupuncture goes beyond making the modality more affordable for those with low income or without benefits – it’s about the collective energy in the room and what that does to our psyche.
Often Community Acupuncture is preferred because it adds to the healing experience. From this perspective, Community Acupuncture also breaks down the barriers between different socio-economic groups. In a community setting, people tend to report feeling less nervous when they see others relaxing or sleeping during treatment. The communal aspect is also very therapeutic for those suffering from depression who may be living in isolation.
Another positive benefit of this healthcare model is that people can sit side by side (friends and family members) and 'drop in' without necessarily having an appointment since the practitioner is concentrated on one treatment room which makes treatment very efficient. The spontaneity of walk in culture also makes it easier to manage and commit to a health plan for people who have a hectic schedule.
With corporate wellness becoming more prevalent in our society and in office culture, Community Acupuncture is also an alternative for coworkers to bond and unwind after work instead of hitting the pub. Similarly, couples always benefit from a little time out after a stressful day and since Community Acupuncture is a non-verbal release it's an excellent therapy...especially if you don't feel like talking.
Community Acupuncture has become a popular destination post yoga class, and similar to group meditation, it’s becoming more mainstream. Acupuncture's not only sought out to cure ailments and treat disease but many people are choosing acupuncture as straight up therapy just because.
From prevention, rejuvenation and anti-aging to increasing energy and mental function, there are many reasons to try acupuncture and the most appealing aspect is that people generally tend to feel great after their treatment (we refer to this state as the acu-glow or zen zone).
The pay what you can option makes Community Acupuncture an affordable lifestyle choice for many patients who frequent their acupuncturist as they might a gym -- a regular work out for the mind, body and spirit.
Qi (chi) is a household name and people are taking more time out for themselves considering the high demands of our high tech lives and multitasking culture (psst…don’t forget to breathe!). So, the next time you need to unblock some meridians, bring a loved one with you. Kick back on a fully supportive, comfortable, over-sized recliner and take refuge in the present moment – there’s never a better time than now!