11 Things to Look for When Choosing an Acupuncturist

Acupuncture involves placing tiny, very thin needles in the skin to stimulate our nerves and muscles. Placed strategically, these needles cause responses from the brain causing changes in the body that help alleviate pain and many other symptoms of illness.

Acupuncture is now widely practiced in Western as well as Eastern cultures, but finding a good practitioner is of prime importance. Figuring out which practitioner will be the best fit for you can be a daunting task, especially if you have never received acupuncture treatment before. To help out, we have listed here the top 11 things to look for when choosing an acupuncturist.

1. National Registration:
This is of vital importance. National registration shows that an acupuncturist is accredited and that their training has been verified by their government. Seeking out a nationally registered acupuncturist will ensure that you receive the most qualified and most effective treatment possible. You can check our whether an acupuncturist is registered on the AHPRA Register of Practitioners (www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registers-of-Practitioners.aspx).

2. Qualifications:
Secondary to checking an acupuncturist’s national registration is examining their qualifications. Levels of training vary from country to country, even between states in some countries. Here in Australia it’s a minimum of a 4 year bachelor degree to get registered. If trained overseas and your practitioner is registered with AHPRA, then their level of training has been assessed as sufficient.

A qualified and registered acupuncturist will have malpractice insurance, it’s a condition of registration. Acupuncturists have some of the lowest insurance rates, due to acupuncture being a very safe treatment.

4.Familiarity with Research:
Acupuncture is an ancient and in many respects a highly traditional form of medical treatment, but that does not mean that the practitioner should be ignorant of new research in the field. A good acupuncturist will be up-to-date on all of the latest techniques and practices, and should be able to speak to current research.

5.Quality Time Spent with Client:
It is always a good idea to call around when you are looking for a new acupuncturist, and one of the reasons is because this can give you a good idea of how they structure their appointments. Do they have one acupuncturist seeing 3 different people in 3 different rooms at once (this is a common approach)? Or do you get to have your acupuncturists undivided attention for the whole treatment session?

If you visit the acupuncturist’s clinic, make sure to take a good look at your surroundings. Is the clinic accessible for those with a mobility impairment? Are the rooms clean and orderly? Are any sharps, biohazards, and other health or safety concerns properly contained and dealt with? A clean clinic is a hugely important thing to consider, as anything not properly sanitized can be a risk to your health. It is a good idea to confirm that your acupuncturist uses sealed, single-use needles for their practice as well (it’s also a legal requirement here in Australia).

What precisely are you getting treated for? Did you injure yourself playing sports? Do you have a chronic condition or illness? Oftentimes acupuncturists, like physical therapists and many doctors, will specialize in treating a certain ailment or feature of the body. Most acupuncturists have one or two areas that they are experts in treating, and while an acupuncturist will be able to treat most complaints, finding one whose expertise that matches your needs is always best.

8. Background:
It is not often that we consider the personal background of our doctor when seeking treatment, but with acupuncturists this can actually be a huge help. An acupuncturist who is also an athlete (or has been one in the past) will be most familiar with complaints related to sports and exercise. A practitioner who has also spent a lot of time at a desk job will better understand those needs and potential injuries, and the list goes on.

9. Approach:
A key approach in acupuncture is treating the entire body, rather than just the injury or complaint itself. If an acupuncturist is concerned with your health as a whole and your lifestyle, chances are that they are well-informed and can provide more effective and holistic treatment.

10. Rebates:
Most private health insurance extras packages will cover acupuncture. Check to see if the acupuncturist you plan to see is covered by your insurance provider. Also having HICAPS or Healthpoint facilities can make the claiming more convenient for you.

11.Style of Acupuncture:
Not a lot of people realize that there is actually more than one type of acupuncture. For example, there is traditional Chinese acupuncture, as well as Japanese and Korean styles. These different approaches will be most effective for varying types of complaints, so it is good to ask your acupuncturist what their preferred style is in order to better gauge whether or not they can meet your needs. Different styles also have different techniques, so if you have a preference for a strong or gentle treatment it’s best to ask.If you look for these 11 things when choosing an acupuncturist, you are much more likely to find the practitioner who is the best fit for you.