If you have ever wondered what acupuncture treatment is like or what you can expect at your first treatment, we have a guide for that. But what about the type of acupuncture known as community acupuncture? What is that like? Should you try it? What will happen when you do?
What is Community Acupuncture Like?
Community acupuncture is a type of acupuncture where instead of one-on-one private treatment sessions, community acupuncture sessions are done in a group setting—the therapy and treatments are the same. The needles are the same. But the experience itself has a few unique aspects for what you will experience, see, and do during a community acupuncture session.
5 Things that will Happen During your First Session
The first time that you go to community acupuncture there are five things that will happen:
Make an appointment: Most community acupuncture clinics will need you to make an appointment prior to showing up for a session. So even though it’s not happening during your session, setting an appointment will help get the ball rolling and community acupuncture treatment started.
Check-in: Let the receptionist know you are there for your first appointment! You might even be surprised with chocolate or other goodies while you wait, you never know!
Complete paperwork: You will be given the paperwork to fill out.
Interview: After you hand in your completed paperwork, you will have an interview with the acupuncturist who will be doing your acupuncture treatment. The interview process will help them gain a better understanding of your needs and why you are seeking acupuncture. This step will also help the acupuncturist formulate a plan of treatment. Use this time to also ask questions and concerns, or curiosities. This is a great time to ask.
Receive treatment: Finally, you will go into a room, and receive your acupuncture treatment.
5 Questions to Expect When Filling out Paperwork for Acupuncture
From who you are to why you are seeking acupuncture — the paperwork you have to fill out during your first session will probably take fifteen minutes at the most. For information on what to expect when filling out paperwork during your first acupuncture session, read: 5 Questions to Expect When Filling out Paperwork for Acupuncture.
Since you now have an understanding of the questions asked on the paperwork you will need to fill out, let’s dig a little deeper into the interview process of your first acupuncture appointment...
Community Acupuncture and the Interview Process
The interview process usually comes after you fill out paperwork. This is true no matter if you are getting community acupuncture or another type of acupuncture. When going to community acupuncture this is what the interview process may look like:
Find a comfy chair: There is often a comfy chair or sofa that you will be asked if you would like to sit at.
Location: The location of your comfy chair or sofa will most likely be close to where you checked in and filled out your paperwork. People may come and go —passing you during your interview with the acupuncturist you will be working with. The good news is, they are either going to treatment or leaving acupuncture treatment. Your reasons for seeking acupuncture are yours. Although not a private experience, you can rest assured that the people around you are more interested in their own treatment and needs than why you are there. It is oftentimes a very peaceful and calm atmosphere. More on that soon.
The questions: During the interview process at community acupuncture, you can expect the acupuncturist that will be conducting your session to use the paperwork as a basis for where they stem their questions from. What kind of questions might they ask you? Find out in our guide: The Interview and your First Acupuncture Session: What to Expect.
After the interview process, you will get to experience your first community acupuncture treatment.
What to Expect During Community Acupuncture Treatment
When you first go into the room where you will be receiving your community acupuncture treatment this is your senses will take in:
The room will be dimly lit. The atmosphere is meant to feel calm and relaxing. You will see reclining chairs that are either full and have someone receiving acupuncture treatment in them, or the recliners will be empty.
There may be a slight welcoming smell of an essential oil— perhaps lavender or another appealing fragrance may enter your senses.
When you enter you may hear the room, you may hear the whispers of an acupuncturist communicating with a person receiving their treatment. You may also hear the sound of relaxing nature-based music playing softly in the background.
You will choose an empty recliner. As you feel it and sit in it, you will most likely feel a blanket under you. This is to provide comfort and warmth. At this point, you could choose to take off your shoes. Again comfort is everything.
What is the Needle Aspect of Community Treatment Like?
Once you are lying comfortably in your recliner, your acupuncturist will come over and ask to take your pulse. After your pulse has been assessed, they will start to insert the needles into acupuncture points that have been selected based on the paperwork you filled out, the interview that was just conducted, and the treatment plan created by the acupuncturist.
What Happens After Needles Have Been Placed?
After needles have been placed for your community acupuncture session, you will most likely be asked two questions:
How long do you want to stay today?
You may want a nice long session of acupuncture. You may tell the acupuncturist that you would like to stay for 45 minutes. If you have plans or would like to have a shorter session, you may choose to tell the acupuncturist that you only want to stay anywhere from 20-30 min.
The longest you can stay is 45 minutes, but the length of your session will depend on what you communicate to the acupuncturist. 20 minutes is often the suggested minimum.
Would you like a blanket?
You will be asked if you would like a blanket. If you choose to have one and have needles in your legs or feet, the acupuncturist may first put a rolled blanket on your knees before laying a blanket over you. Why? A blanket is offered in case you are cold or would find it more relaxing to be covered.
The Last Step in the Community Acupuncture Experience
The last step in the community acupuncture step experience is when you have the needles inserted and let them do their work. Throughout the 20-45 min process, you may feel yourself going deeper and deeper into feelings of relaxation. You may even find yourself falling asleep. Enjoy it! Allow yourself to experience the calmness and restorative feelings of the acupuncture.
When your requested time of acupuncture is over, the acupuncturist will come over and remove your needles, and you will be free to leave your community acupuncture session when you are ready — take a few moments to put on your shoes, stretch, and help yourself transition to leaving the community acupuncture room.
Paying for Community Acupuncture
Paying for community acupuncture is different than paying for private acupuncture treatment. If you want to know about the costs associated with those types of acupuncture, read: How Much Does Acupuncture Cost.
So how do you pay for community acupuncture? Let’s take a look:
Payment forms accepted: Credit, debit card, or cash
Cost per session: $20-$40 (Average)
Reason for a ranged price per session: Payments are based on a sliding scale. You do not need to provide proof of income. What you pay needs to fall in that range, however, what you pay is your choice. Pay what is comfortable for you and your own budget.
Packages: Inquire about packages with the receptionist. Especially if you have the ability to pay for multiple sessions upfront. Why? It will drop the fee you are paying per session. Sometimes you can get five sessions for $75. This will bring your cost per session for acupuncture down to $15. This makes community acupuncture quite a great way to make acupuncture more accessible to many more people who can benefit from acupuncture treatment and alleviates the cost factor considering that private acupuncture treatment averages $70-$150 per session.
Wait, now that you know what community acupuncture is like, what to expect, and what it will cost —what should you wear?
3 FAQ About Community Acupuncture
Here are three FAQ about community acupuncture:
1. What Should I Wear?
When going to community acupuncture, it is suggested that you wear comfortable clothes. Also, shirts, with short sleeves or long sleeves that you are willing to roll up and still feel comfortable is a good idea. Why? So different acupuncture points in your arms and hands can be easily accessible. The same thing applies to the pants you choose. Shorts are a great choice for both men and women. So are skirts for women. Again, if you want to wear long pants, you are welcome to. Just make sure that you will be comfortable with them on after you roll them up for the acupuncturist to access the different points on your feet and legs
2. Who is Community Acupuncture Best For?
Wondering who community acupuncture is used for? According to this one study, community acupuncture is used by a wide range spectrum of socioeconomic demographics. In addition, community acupuncture is used most frequently to treat the following conditions:
Back pain (21%)
Joint pain (17%)
That does not mean that those are the only health conditions that community acupuncture can treat. It simply means that those are the top three reasons why people seek out community acupuncture.
3. Should I Try Community Acupuncture?
Wondering if you should try community acupuncture and if it is the best choice for you? According to this one study, there are reasons why community acupuncture treatment is both beneficial and should be experienced:
Low cost: Because of the sliding scale model
Easy Budgeting: Removal of budgeting restrictions for those who want to use acupuncture but have income limitations—and so acupuncture is simply not otherwise financially an option.
Number of treatments: More treatments and greater treatment frequency — the affordability of community acupuncture leads to more sessions at a greater frequency. This leads to a more positive relationship between the person seeking acupuncture and the outcome that they experience.
Want to know about community acupuncture from someone who has experienced it?
What Happens When you Try Community Acupuncture?
Think all of this information is useful about community acupuncture but still looking for more detail? What about the personal experience from a person who has tried community acupuncture? Read: I Tried Community Acupuncture and This is What Happened.
Would you like more information on acupuncture? Check out these resources:
Acupuncture: In Depth. (2017, February 21). Retrieved February 14, 2019, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction
Chao, M. T., Tippens, K. M., & Connelly, E. (2012). Utilization of group-based, community acupuncture clinics: a comparative study with a nationally representative sample of acupuncture users. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 18(6), 561-6. Retrieved February 14, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390970/
Peoples Community of Acupuncture: Our History. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://www.pocacoop.com/our-history
Tippens, K. M., Chao, M. T., Connelly, E., & Locke, A. (2013). Patient perspectives on care received at community acupuncture clinics: a qualitative thematic analysis. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 13, 293. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-293. Retrieved February 14, 2019, from