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What a Treatment Involves
Acupuncture Treatments

A session generally lasts an hour although the first session is an hour and a half, as the practitioner has to collect background details for the purposes of assessment. Follow-up treatments include some additional data collection and up-dates but most details will already have been collected. Information is gathered by observing the manifestations of the ailment/imbalance through discolourations, movement restrictions and so on. The practitioner might also ask detailed questions, and use touch to aid in forming a diagnosis. He will also probably wish to look at the tongue and take the pulse using the oriental style, that is, taking the pulse on both the left and the right wrists with three fingers. Having gained enough initial data to create an overall picture or pattern he will then suggest a course of treatments which initially consists of 4 to 8 sessions but depends on various criteria such as, how long-standing the problem has been and how severe the symptoms are.
It is advisable not to eat for an hour before the treatment and not to drink alcohol either.

After collecting information regarding the presenting problems the client is usually asked to lie on massage style table and may be required to remove some items of clothing. This is to allow access to points on the meridian/channel network that runs over the body. The most important points tend to be below the knees and elbows and on the back and abdomen. Fine needles can be inserted for a few seconds to nearly half an hour. The usual number is 10 or 12 and the treatment is often supplemented with a little relaxing shiatsu to loosen the body ready to receive the needles or to embody the treatment at the end. The pulse is frequently taken during the treatment to register change and needle adjustment may take place accordingly. There is sometimes an initial sensation of pricking and then tingling as the needle and energy connect, sometimes a dull ache might occur or even a sensation in a totally different part of the body as the energy travels the inter-linked pathways. The patient is asked to breathe with the treatment to aid the focus and strengthen the effect. If there is any feeling of pain in a particular locality the needle is removed and the area soothed before selecting another point. As the body learns to receive the acupuncture it begins to open and allow the deeper energies to move and re-harmonise, and the feeling/idea of something penetrating the skin becomes more acceptable as the treatments begin to take effect.

The practitioner may also use moxibustion to enhance the needle treatment. This is a way of introducing heat/warmth deep into the body to either energise areas of cold or disperse a blockage. This is usually accompanied by a wonderful warm feeling throughout the body. When the client is ready to leave he/she needs to be feeling centred and able to face the world with a clear head, so a few minutes are allocated at the end for this and for gathering feedback. It is also advisable to drink water after a treatment as various toxins in the body will have been released and it is also advisable not to rush off and do too many things, so try and plan your time to support the process. It is important for the body to be in a relaxed, integrated state in order to become whole/healed and if one is scattered by having to do many things at once many of the benefits of the session will be lost.

The client is encouraged to participate in the treatment by using his/her breath as the needles are applied and also when they are extracted. bringing his/her awareness to the areas being treated and during the session the client can be asked to learn some simple exercises to support the process. The treatment is specifically angled at the presenting problem however the whole body is acknowledged, as the overall desired result is a fully integrated bodymind. The selection of points is determined by locality, function, channel pathway etc. and therefore, for example, points for headaches can be on the feet and points for indigestion on the legs and arms.

By using different energetic approaches the practitioner can treat dis-harmonies of a physical, mental or emotional nature and this also has a positive uplift on the spirit. The practitioner will ask the client to be actively involved in the healing process. This could mean that the client will be asked to perform some exercises during the treatment session either for the purpose of assessment or to demonstrate techniques to be continued at home to support the sequence of treatments. Other forms of self-involvement that are sometimes required are dietary considerations, breathing exercises, postural awareness exercises, stretch and release exercises, oriental herbs or the recommendations might even be working in conjunction with another practitioner such as a counsellor while continuing with treatments.

What is the difference between a Shiatsu and an Acupuncture treatment?

Although the two systems are rooted in the same theory and have the same holistic approach the effects are different. Obviously, fact that one uses fine metal needles inserted into various points and the other uses pressure from a warm hand on a relatively large area means the sensations received are very different. However, acupuncture can work in areas where pressure would be too painful, where stimulation in more than two or three areas at the same time is required or when the imbalance is simply not responding to more 'external' contact. Shiatsu on the other hand, generates a large feeling of support and warmth, can involve stretching and rocking etc. However, it cannot be used on areas where pressure is unacceptable, with certain forms of inflammation and irritation and it is difficult to stimulate points for more than a few minutes and then only two or three at a time. However, it is possible to mix the treatments and move, for example, from an initial course of acupuncture for an acute problem onto a course of Shiatsu as an ongoing support or preventative measure.