ACH Blog

When online am I an acupuncturist or a health consultant?

Isobel Cosgrove - Monday, May 25, 2020

Since the end of March, I have held just under 40 ‘acupuncture’ sessions online, with clients who have been working with me for some months, and occasionally longer. The main intention in holding the sessions has been to continue, through lockdown, to support the improvements in general health, and in specific symptoms, with each person. 

You may well be thinking - how is this possible? We have all been reflecting on how to honour the therapeutic relationship and maintain duty of care through a time when face to face contact is not possible. Here are some of the ways in which I have been working during April and May this year. 

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In ‘normal’ times, during a treatment: 

1. In a conversation I will be listening to hear how a client has been since the last time we met. This can take between fifteen to thirty minutes depending on the time between and how much change has been happening, which I need to know for diagnosis. 

2. Then I take pulses, examine the tongue and palpate some channels of energy again so that I can make diagnostic decisions to plan the day’s treatment. 

3. I then needle the appropriate points, and may use moxa, a warming herb, to facilitate more energy movement along channels which are depleted. 

4. During the treatment with needles, I may direct energy with some massage, which helps to unblock areas of tense holding. 

5. After the needles are taken out, I sometimes give Qi Gong/Tai Chi exercises to help maintain the flow of energy, which the treatment has enabled. 

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Recently when a session takes place online, all of these can be part of our time together, except pulse taking, channel palpation and needling. I have not treated any new clients since March. I have chosen to work with only those whose pulses, and channel energy pictures I already know well. 

Instead of needling, I have indicated to a client which points they themselves can massage, to keep calm and influence sleep, anxiety, and overstimulation (a drop of lavender in massage oil and a couple minutes quietly holding the point location). If more energy movement is needed, e.g. to stimulate slow digestion, or low lung activity, then other points will be used, massaged more firmly for longer, to create more energy movement in the specific organ which is running on empty. 

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Online, I can also show a client how to use an exercise to strengthen (or soften) an area of muscle deficiency (or tension). With these exercises, I can give some massage instruction, again to unblock tense holding patterns. 

If a client has learnt to use a moxa stick with me when face to face, then I know they will be able to safely use one (which I can post to them at home). The use of moxa, on leg points on the stomach channel, not only aids digestion, but also fills the energy reserves, helps alleviate fatigue, and enables better metabolic activity. 

As you can see, without needling, so much can be achieved in an online acupuncture session, and the therapeutic connection is continuing.

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