Saturday, January 24, 2009

It begins with Acupuncture...

[Originally posted here...]

There were two catalysts that led to my realization that I wanted to do a CA clinic.  The first was reading The Remedy (get it and read it if you haven't.)  The second was discovering Tan's Balance Method and Tung style acupuncture.

Reading  The Remedy was great -- it opened my eyes to the possibility of running a successful clinic without selling my soul.  I saw that this was the way I wanted to run a clinic -- a lot of patients at an affordable rate.  It made sense and it felt comfortable.  Right away, as a third year student, I started formulating plans on how to run a clinic.  But, in my head I kept straying from the model created by Working Class Acupuncture.  What if we use tables instead of chairs?  How about hospital curtains for privacy?  Should we include more time and privacy for intakes?  I loved the idea of CA, but I couldn't make it jive with what I was learning in school.  Then I discovered Tan.

I'd heard of Balance Method before, but didn't really pay attention -- Tan's website looked too cheesy and not "professional" enough, so I immediately dismissed it as not "real TCM."  Luckily two classmates were experimenting with BM in the student clinic and bragging about their results.  I gave it a second look, and bought his first book (12 and 12.)  I till remember the first time I put in Ling Ku and Da Bai in a patient, asked her to wiggle her aching back.  She looked confused for a few seconds and then got a big smile on her face.  It was gone.  I almost bust out laughing and couldn't keep the goofy grin off my face, I think I was even more thrilled than my patient.

That first experience changed me.  I became a Tan-a-maniac and spent all of my time studying everything I could get my hands on -- his books, every inch of his forum, notes from friends that attended his seminars -- I soaked it in.  After being burned out by three years of school, I was suddenly in love with acupuncture again.  All of the beauty and power that had originally drawn me to the medicine was finally in front of me.

More importantly, CA finally made sense to me.  Now I understood how you could treat back pain in a recliner, and why I didn't need a 30 minute intake that bordered on becoming a psychotherapy session to formulate a treatment plan for a patient experiencing depression.  Here was a method that was simple and worked.

Learning Tan and Tung also allowed me to look more critically at the education I received.  Much of what I learned was not necessary for running a CA.  Much of my time in school, I had a strong feeling that something wasn't right.  I knew the education was inflated and that the school was mostly a money factory for a few lucky administrators, but I didn't know what was missing.  It took the beautiful simplicity of Tan's style to realize that much of my education was window dressing to rake in students, and to "legitimize" the profession in the eyes of people who didn't giving a rat's ass about our profession.

If you are looking at this website for information on how to start a CA, then my advice is make sure you know a good meridian-based approach to acupuncture. It doesn't have to be Tan or Tung, but it does need to be something that allows you to work quickly and confidently. Combine this with The Remedy and the information in the CAN forum, and you will have a recipe for successfully treating and helping a lot of people.



Evan Haas said...

I guess I'll take some credit for bragging in the student clinic. :)


Circle Community Acupuncture said...

You get at least 50% of the credit

Anonymous said...

since you felt the three year education was missing something, do you think there is (or is there) another way to learn the skill of acupuncture without attending one of the schools out there? i am interested because i am thinking about pursuing this career/life and while i don't mind attending the schools have heard the same comment over the years from a few other people i know who've attended various courses and also felt something was missing.


Circle Community Acupuncture said...

Dear Anon

It is becoming harder and harder to learn acupuncture/herbal medicine outside of a school. I believe that this is the last year that the CAB will accept tutorial students as eligible to sit for the licensing exam. As far as I know, schools are the only way to go for credentialing and licensing.

What is missing from the education? Acupuncture as a therapeutic method separate from herbal medicine. Most schools teach a herbal based diagnostic method, without teaching a clinical understanding of how to apply channel theory.

I can go into this more if you are interested. Feel free to email me at