As a believer in accessible complimentary medicine, conflict arises because frankly- do the math. The costs add up when done as private in clinic sessions ($70 a treatment once a week puts you at $280/month). For someone without extended benefits to cover such a prescription, or even for someone with limited benefits, the financial barrier can begin to restrict access.
Enter the Community Acupuncture model of care. One big room, comfy chairs, chill music, and a practitioner attending to several people within the same hour. This allows them to offer a sliding scale for treatment (typically $20-$40 a treatment). If you look into the history of acupuncture and at how acupuncture is often practised in other parts of the world you will see that this model is not new. In North America, the movement began just over 10 years ago in Oregon and has been spreading ever since (see POCA, The People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture for more information).
Community Acupuncture is a beautiful thing because it means more people can get acupuncture more often. What’s not to love? As my 3rd trimester is coming to an end, I have been a frequent visitor to the comfy chair for a good “acu-nap”. Beyond the benefit to the pocket book, there is something about sitting in a calm room with others who are all investing the same time into their health and wellbeing. We are all coming together in search of our own peace and balance. This somehow creates an energy in the room to facilitate that healing.
During my time living in Thailand I was fortunate enough to volunteer with an amazing non-profit called “In Search of Sanuk”. Through them I was able to provide weekly Community Acupuncture style treatments to a group of Vietnamese refugees they support. How unrealisitic would it have been for me to do 10 individual hourly sessions each week for 8 weeks?! With one big room and some floor mats, we did it all together. It was a very positive experience for all involved as we chipped away at the headaches, stomach aches, and general stress.
At Toronto Community Acupuncture, a place I adore and call home to my clinic based practice, the process is simple. You arrive, organize your payment, grab some pillows and blankets for added comfort, pick a free chair, and wait to be visited by an acupuncturist. After a brief conversation in whispers, your needles are placed in accessible areas of the body, typically the head and extremities. Then you get to close your eyes and relax. Nobody is looking at you, you just move inward and find your place of rest while the needles do their thing.
I understand that this open in-clinic model may not feel comfortable to everyone, but I encourage you to check out a Community Acupuncture clinic in your community if you are curious and want to test it out for yourself!