The Icommunity acupuncture project
opened its doors to a first small group of East Grinstead patients in van Buren’s room at the International College of Oriental Medicine in may 2010. The project stemmed from the desire to meet the needs of our community in terms of frequency and affordability of treatments. The challenge for the college was to arrange a setting where treatments could be received by more patients at the same time in order to reduce the costs, but making sure to maintain the same accuracy, care and attention to detail (in terms of body, pulse and tongue diagnosis), which are the trademark of the ICOM. My main concern when I organised this project was to guarantee confidentiality and the best possible level of privacy during the treatment. It is important that patients feel comfortable and able to communicate to the practitioner as much information as possible, especially when emotional support is also needed or when very personal details are revealed. For this reason, the first consultation – during which the patient’s complete medical history is collected – is always arranged in a separate room. Furthermore, I am always available to discuss delicate issues in different spaces, should the patient feel the need to do so.
Patients are also encouraged to communicate with me in alternative ways, for instance by emailing me the day before the treatment to tell about the progression/regression of their illness; this minimises the need of talking about personal information during the session and leaves me with extra time to feel the pulse, study the body and tongue signs and choose the most appropriate treatment. I stay with each patient at least thirty minutes, more than half of which dedicated to feeling the pulse before and after the actual needling. Patients usually spend up to one hour and a half in the room, which allows time to prepare for the actual consultation and treatment as well as time to disengage before leaving. By making both these transitions smoother has proven to be enhancing the effects of the treatment. Most patients seem to enjoy the ethos of the project as an attempt to make a private form of healthcare affordable for a range of individuals who otherwise would only rely on public services. What they seem to appreciate is how the holistic description of reality brought about by Oriental medicine also helps them relate more functionally with their day by day lives. And this, we believe, is the best way to help Acupuncture becoming part of our community.
Since attending the ICommunity acupuncture Clinic I have experienced a significant reduction in the pain I had been suffering in relation to my medical condition. Attending these sessions has had such a big impact on the quality of life I now lead along with an increase in inner awareness and confidence in myself as a person. I always take away with me a feeling of relaxation and calm following each session. — CHRISTINE ELSEY
A further interesting aspect has been the fact that quite often patients declare to be able to contextualise their condition in a shared healing environment and put their health issues into a different, less self-referenced, perspective. During the first month the project hosted just a few friends and curious people looking for a cheap alternative to one to one acupuncture sessions, but very quickly the calm and relaxed environment of the college clinic, the kindness of the receptionists and most of all the effectiveness of the style of acupuncture practiced and taught at the ICOM has made the project grow quickly. All this has been possible thanks to the ICOM Joined Principals who believed in and encouraged the project from the beginning and the support of friends and colleagues as Galit Hughes and Deborah Woolf. Please note that you will not need to undress; just wear comfortable loose fitting clothes, so that your elbows, knees and the lower two thirds of the trunk are easily accessible.