Talking to Clients

A big question for most acupuncturists is how to talk to their clients.

The problem is how much jargon to use.

You don’t want to bombard people with strange words, but then you don’t want to be misleading.

Where this problem is most difficult is the ‘translation’ into English. Telling someone they have a heart deficiency could cause one!

My approach is not the usual but I think it is better.

The usual approach is to use the standard translation, like ‘heart deficiency’ or ‘liver excess’ and then put in some time explaining that this doesn’t mean they have a heart or liver problem in the sense used by western medicine. This has a couple of problems:

1. Well, then what does it mean? Why use these words if they are wrong?

2. The client often doesn’t listen, and will tell others that their acupuncturist told them they have a heart or liver problem, or whatever. This isn’t likely to spread understanding of acupuncture or raise your credibility.

My approach is firstly to use a different vocabulary.

Most people who come to an acupuncturist have heard of qi and know that it doesn’t have an equivalent in western medicine. You can say things like, “Your qi is maybe a bit hyper. Are you feeling driven and hyper?” Going into more detail you could use the elements. You could say things like, “In acupuncture we’d say that maybe you have a bit too much wood energy [or qi in your wood element] . Are you feeling hyper? Do you have any eye problems at the moment? Would you say you are feeling angry?”

Secondly, you can talk about the symptoms fairly directly without using jargon.

It’s my opinion that acupuncture lends itself to this approach: that one aspect of the genius of acupuncture is that it refers so directly to our experience (heat, dryness etc). This means with a little work we can pretty much avoid jargon and speak in ways that are readily understood by most people. So you can say things like, “Well in acupuncture we’d say that you are a bit dry – you know, that dry skin and your thirst. So we remedy this by ‘moistening you’ using these points.

I hope this makes sense. It’s only sketching out my approach not going into depth. I’ll respong to any comments and do more posts on this if this is wanted.

If you are an acupuncturist I’d love to hear if you have this problem, and if so how you handle it.

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