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The Intake: A Dance

The Intake: A Dance

The process of seeing a new patient remains a unique experience. It is understandable that a person new to acupuncture therapy might feel trepidation the first time out.  A process of collecting details in order to create a comprehensive diagnosis, the intake is an elegant encounter between an (often) apprehensive patient and the inquiring acupuncturist. For someone unaccustomed to being heard, observing a practitioner taking in sensory clues— words, visual cues and tactile impressions in order to glean a diagnosis, can be daunting for a minute or two.

Whether I’m seeing someone for pain, infertility, stress or digestive issues, each person is considered unique in Asian Medicine, making the process always one of discovery. As I investigate, the patient too is often learning. In response to my examining reflexive zones on their torso or limbs, initial skepticism can morph into a flash of recognition, an exhale or a nod of the head:  Thus the energetic dialogue begins. The following is a ‘creative’ re-enactment of what can often happen during an initial examination—and there are as many variations on this script as there are patients.

“I’m here because I’m stressed out, but you say you can help my messed up digestion too? And how’d you know about it, anyway?  Ummm, yes. That area on my heel does feel better when you press the crook of my arm. And my shoulder hurts less when you press that point on my hand.  Oh, yeah. Right there is where it hurts.’  When a client says, ‘right there,’ it is a universal acknowledgement that ‘you found the spot’. In Chinese medicine, the phrase is ‘ah shi!” 

It is a truism that discovery is at the core of the intake, and the process tilts both ways.  The patient is an evolving body/mind/spirit circuit board, with every part connected to every other one. It is a practitioner’s hope that if this initial dialogue is not a first real ‘understanding’ of the holistic healing paradigm, that perhaps it is at least a meaningful one.

Daniel Reinaldo Bernstein at Blue Phoenix Wellness

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