TCM: What to Expect at Your First Appointment

If you've been following along with my Traditional Chinese Medicine series, you know that we've covered the branches of TCM that I use in my practice. In this post, let's pull back the curtain and take a look at what to expect during your first acupuncture appointment. Welcome to my clinic!

After you book an appointment, I'll send you an online form to fill out before your appointment. This form covers your medical history and any symptoms and conditions you may currently have. It's a head to toe assessment that gives me an overview of your health from a TCM perspective. If you don't have access to the internet, you can book via phone and arrive early to fill out the form on an iPad before your appointment.

On the day of your appointment, wear loose, comfy clothing. Many treatments can be done while you're clothed, and paper gowns and sheets for draping are used for treatments that expose more of the body.

First we'll sit down together to talk about TCM and your history and present concerns. I like to share a short slide show introduction to TCM to encourage any questions you may have about your treatment and to share an understanding of this ancient holistic model of medicine. Next it's time to get physical for the examination. I will check your pulse and sometimes your back or abdomen, depending on the issue being treated. The silliest part is that acupuncturists are the only people who ask you to stick out your tongue! There are regions of the tongue that correspond to different internal organs, and checking the appearance of these is part of my diagnosis. After the exam, I share what I'm seeing and recommend treatment. I like to  write and use diagrams as well as explain verbally because it’s more comprehensive and helps patients understand their treatment.

For your initial acupuncture treatment, I will usually leave the needles in for 10-20 minutes. During this time you can choose to listen to music if that helps you relax. You may be pleasantly surprised when you see the needles! They are only 0.25mm thick, as opposed to hypodermic needles which are about 3mm thick. Jitters before getting poked the first time are normal, and most people come to feel comfortable with it and look forward to it later!

After your treatment I'll share my observations and recommendations for your treatment plan. Please know that I am open to collaboration with other practitioners you may be working with. Often treatments can be more effective when everyone is working together, and potential problems such as conflicting advice can be avoided.

First appointments are about an hour long and follow ups are 30-60 minutes on average, depending on the condition and needed treatment.

Ready? Set. Let's get started!