WHAT IS COMMUNITY ACUPUNCTURE
Community acupuncture is a highly effective and efficient way of treating a variety of individual and community conditions in areas of conflict, disaster or devastation. Clients are treated in a group, sitting up in chairs, fully clothed. Needles are inserted in the ears based on a protocol developed by the National Acupuncture Detox Association. Other needles may be used on accessible body points as needed.
Much of the traditional treatment for anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder in areas of disaster or conflict has been verbal (various forms of counseling) or has required medication. Acupuncture in a group setting has some advantages over these conventional treatments, and it can also be used along with more conventional talk and medication therapies to enhance their effectiveness.
- Acupuncture addresses physical and mental health conditions simultaneously.
- Immediate effects include a sense of well being and relaxation, reduced anxiety and depression, and improved sleep.
- General improvements in health (headaches and other pain, digestive complaints, etc.) make it easier for patients to receive other services (like counseling). Treatment outcomes improve when patients feel better.
- Effects are immediate, but can also be long lasting, beyond the time the treatment is being given. While the treatment alleviates symptoms, it is also a general balancing treatment, which treats not only symptoms, but also the root cause of the symptoms. It addresses the whole person and has a comprehensive effect.
- Few other modalities, except medication, offer immediate relief. This makes community acupuncture ideal while clients are waiting for other services which may take longer to provide.
SIMPLE AND ACCESSIBLE
- No long intake or paperwork is required.
- No complicated equipment is necessary. Clients receive treatments sitting in a group so private offices or treatment tables are not required.
- Clients do not need to undress.
VERSATILE - EFFECTIVE IN A WIDE VARIETY OF SETTINGS
- Acupuncture can be successfully integrated into a wide range of programs already in existence, including medical programs that utilize medication, mental health facilities, and social service agencies.
- It can be done anywhere. We treat in parks, churches, and waiting rooms, as well as health clinics.
- Patients with varying needs (trauma survivors, staff, emergency workers, etc.) can be treated in the same group.
- There are almost no side effects or contraindications. It is non-addictive.
- Treatments are done in groups, so many people can be treated at once.
NON-VERBAL and NON PERFORMANCE DEPENDENT-
- Acupuncture does not require any talking. Patients can relax without fear of exposing themselves or losing control.
- Talking is hard when patients feel scared, tired, sick, hopeless, or embarrassed about feelings. It’s hard for patients to articulate clearly what the problem is when they can’t think clearly.
- Clients don’t have to be able to intellectually understand or express their feelings to get relief.
- Equally effective when there are language or cultural barriers.
- The effect of being treated in a group is that the benefit to the group is larger than the benefit would be if each client were treated individually. “Our bodies contain an autonomic mechanism to mimic or unite with a pulse greater than our own – speeding up or slowing down to sync up with a stronger external rhythm. This concept is called ‘entrainment,” explains Frank Lipman, M.D., one of the foremost practitioners of integrative medicine in the U.S. We entrain to rhythms around us all the time, when we sing in unison with a large group, for example, and the effect is different than just singing the same words alone.
- Healing in a community environment is especially beneficial when a disaster, trauma, or conflict has affected the whole community. Acupuncture in a group setting allows the community as well as the individuals to experience healing.
In addition to the current work in New Orleans, according to Laura Cooley there are “hundreds of international programs using ear acupuncture”. Among these are:
“Dakota reservations in the aftermath of a series of tornadoes
Search and rescue personnel as a de-stressing, revitalizing and coping tool
Brigades to Honduras after a hurricane displaced 2 million people
Refugee camps in Burma
Refugees in the US suffering from PTSD”
Cynthia Neipris, L.Ac. does Community Outreach and Education for Pacific College of Oriental Medicine