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« Back to About Acupuncture Questions

Q: How do I choose an acupuncturist?

A:

How do I choose an acupuncturist?
 
Acupuncture works! But your experience with acupuncture will depend largely on the acupuncture provider that you choose.

You want to find an acupuncturist that best suits your needs. If you like and trust your practitioner, your encounter with acupuncture will be more positive.

You will also want to know about the acupuncturists training and experience and what to expect from the acupuncture treatment. The clearer you are about who it is that is treating you and exactly what the treatment entails, the more you will be able to relax during the acupuncture session and benefit from this ancient form of health care.
 
Determine your goals

Do you have a specific injury or complaint or do you want to try acupuncture to balance body, mind and spirit? Are you looking for a primary health care practitioner, or someone to work in conjunction with your current physician?

Here are some questions that you should ask when choosing an acupuncturist.
 

  1. Where was he or she trained to practice Oriental Medicine?
  2. How long was the training?
  3. How long has he or she been in practice as an acupuncturist?
  4. What experience does he or she have in treating your specific ailment?
  5. Is he or she licensed?

What Qualifications to look for when Choosing an Acupuncturist

Today acupuncture is an acknowledged and respected field of medicine. In most States, provinces and countries formal training and certification is required in order to practice.
 
The United States has set rigorous training standards for acupuncturists. Most states require a 3-5 year Masters degree in Oriental Medicine from an accredited acupuncture school and issue a written and practical state board exam before an acupuncturist can become licensed.

In the states that do not require licensing, choose an acupuncturist certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists. Its members have a degree in Oriental Medicine from an accredited school-or have worked as an apprentice acupuncturist for at least four years - and have passed both a written and practical exam. Acupuncturists who have passed this exam are entitled to add Dipl. Ac. (Diplomate of Acupuncture) or Dipl. O.M.. (Diplomate of Oriental Medicine) after their name.

Find out the laws and legislatures governing acupuncture in your state
 
See what the initials (credentials) after an acupuncturists name stand for
 
Acupuncture requirements for Western doctors are generally more lenient than for non-MD's. Choose a physician who also a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.).  If there are none near you be sure that the M.D. or D.O. is a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture; it requires a minimum of 200 hours of training for membership.
Veterinary acupuncture is considered a surgical procedure that, legally, may ONLY be performed by a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine.
 
Ask About Treatment Styles

Acupuncture and Herbology encompass several distinctive styles. Korean acupuncture, for example, primarily uses points on the hand, while Japanese acupuncture calls for fewer and finer needles inserted at shallower depths.
There is no evidence that one particular style is more effective than another, but you should know what you are getting into.
 
Discuss Length of Treatment

Decide in advance what your expectations are and discuss them with your acupuncturist. A chronic illness may need several months of acupuncture treatment to have a noticeable effect. If you are not happy with your progress, think about changing acupuncturists or check with your western doctor for advice about other options.