What to expect in your first treatment
Usually you will have made a decision upon making your first appointment whether you want to have acupuncture or aromatherapy massage, but occasionally the best course of treatment will be discussed at your first consultation. Several of my patients combine treatments to be best suited to their needs. In either case, all first sessions will begin the same. You’ll be welcomed in, asked to make yourself comfortable on the sofa and offered a drink. Then we’ll chat. Beginning with the basic personal information and leading on to a top-to-toe discussion about your health and wellbeing. You will have plenty of time to describe in detail the main issue for treatment but also if there are any other problems that you would like addressing. The beauty of complementary medicine is that it is holistic – we treat the whole person and my patients generally see improvements across their entire health.
“The beauty of complementary medicine is that it is holistic – we treat the whole person and my patients generally see improvements across their entire health.”
Once we have all the important information covered I will feel your pulse on both wrists and look at your tongue. These are both traditional diagnostic approaches within Chinese Medicine and provide a lot of information about what is going on in your body. You’ll then be invited to lie on the treatment couch. For acupuncture you will rarely need to undress – most of the frequently used acupuncture points are on your lower legs and forearms so can usually be accessed by rolling up trouser legs and sleeves. If you do need to remove any clothing you will be provided with towels to preserve your modesty. Treatments may involve you lying on your back or your front, depending on whether we wish to use some points on your abdomen or back. If you are having a massage I will leave the room to allow you to undress to your underwear and lie down covered with a towel before my return.
Acupuncture is generally painless – most people don’t feel the needle at all. I will first feel for the point with my fingers then gently insert a very thin, single-use, disposable needle in the point. Needles are about the width of a human hair; they are nothing like the things you will have come across at the doctor’s! Once the needle is inserted, I may rotate the needle gently with the aim of summoning the Qi to the point. This will usually result in a throbbing or bruised sensation which should dissipate within seconds. If there is any longer-lasting discomfort you only need let me know and I will remove or reposition the needle. There is no reason for you to be in any pain or discomfort.
Once the needles have been placed they will be left in-situ for 20-30 minutes. On the first session I will stay in the room to make sure you are responding well to treatment, but I can sit quietly in the corner if you’d rather relax than chat. On future visits I will offer you the choice of my company or some blissful peace and quiet – in my experience what begins as a nice relax listening to the gentle music often turns into a little nap! If you choose some quiet time I will just be in the next room and you can summon me back for any reason by calling for me. I will make sure you are comfy and warm before I leave you.
“On future visits I will offer you the choice of my company or some blissful peace and quiet – in my experience what begins as a nice relax listening to the gentle music often turns into a little nap!”
After the needles have done their work I will remove them and dispose of them. You should be feeling very relaxed and perhaps a little floaty so you will be given time to get up and then sit back on the sofa with a glass of water before scheduling future appointments and making payment. We may discuss some things you can do at home to help improve wellness such as dietary advice, exercises or acupressure.
If you are having a massage we will discuss the areas of the body that you wish me to work on and choose suitable oils. Particularly if we are treating mental-emotional issues it is important that you like the scent so I may give you some oils to smell before we select from them. I will go out to blend the oils as you make yourself comfy on the couch. Then the massage will begin as discussed. A typical hour’s massage would be back, neck and shoulders and arms or perhaps back, legs and feet. In a 90 minute massage we can generally include it all. Following the massage I will leave the room for a few minutes to allow you to come back around and get dressed before you take a seat, have a drink of water and plan the next appointment.
Each patient will have a different treatment plan. As a general rule, acute problems will need frequent treatment (maybe up to 2 or 3 a week) for a short period, perhaps followed up by occasional top-up treatments every month or so. Chronic problems take longer to treat and the effect of treatment is cumulative, so the more treatments you have the more effective they become. You may not see significant changes for a few treatments but they will happen. In these cases treatments may be weekly or fortnightly until we are seeing significant improvements and can then become less frequent. Many patients enjoy treatments even when they feel entirely well as it helps to keep them in balance and prevent illness. In fact, acupuncture was traditionally used as a preventative measure in China. In deciding what treatment plan works best for you we will consider your main issue for treatment, your availability and what you can sensibly afford. You won’t be bullied into more treatments than you think manageable.