For the first appointment I generally allow a good hour and a half so that there is sufficient time not only for the history taking but also for any questions the patient might have.
During the first part of the session I ask the patient to tell me about the problem for which they are seeking help. At first I mainly listen but I will also ask detailed questions about the main issues and their symptoms. I will also enquire about the patient’s general health and medical history (including any medication the patient may be taking). It is important to me to get a good idea of the ‘bigger picture’ rather than looking at the main complaint in isolation. I will then suggest a treatment plan tailored to the individual needs of the patient. I will explain whether I consider acupuncture, herbs or a combination of both most beneficial but will always respect the patient’s preferences. There will also be recommendations about diet and life style. To me it is important to work together with my patients rather than simply ‘administer’ a treatment. I therefore encourage them to take an active part in their healing process.
The consultation is followed by the first acupuncture treatment. The patient will be asked to remove some of their clothing – towels for covering are provided. I will then take the patient’s pulse and also look at their tongue – this provides me with vital clues for the diagnosis. I will also palpate reflex zones on their abdomen, the chest, neck and also the hands and feet.
All the information I have gathered will help me to determine where to insert the needles. The needles are left in place for about 15‑20 minutes depending on the individual case. During that time I will leave the room (but remain within earshot) in order to allow the patient to relax. After removing the needles there will be a second and possibly a third round of needling.
During follow-up appointments, which usually last for an hour, I will check the patient’s response to the previous treatment, ask for any updates or changes to their situation so as to adapt the treatment to current state of the patient’s health.
All treatments are on a one-to-one basis. I do not work between several treatment rooms and on principle do not work with more than one patient at a time.