What to look for in an Acupuncturist – What’s in the alphabet soup?

I often get this question from folks who want to send their out-of-town family members to acupuncture because they have benefitted so much themselves.

While acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, it has only in the last couple of decades reached the American masses. This is the basic information to look for when selecting an acupuncturist. I hope you have many choices in your area!

This is what to look for:

Every acupuncturist needs to be licensed-In the USA, we are all* under the NCCAOM. It stands for National Certification Council for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. This gives each licensed acupuncturist the right to add “Diplomat of Acupuncture” to their name. Also abbreviated Dipl. Ac.

Undergraduate and Masters degrees– However, before I was allowed to take the 6 hr grueling licensing exam, I had to go to college for my Bachelors degree. Each budding acupuncturist must then complete a 3-5 year program for acupuncture to earn a Masters in Acupuncture. (Extra time is for herbs, etc.) Written M. Ac. or Ma. Ac.

These are the basic requirements for an acupuncturist. There are a few more you may see, if your practitioner studied herbs, became a doctor of oriental medicine, is a third level Reiki Master or a registered nutritionist. Practitioners could have many extra venues to use toward your treatment. That’s why I recommend each person….

Call your perspective practitioner– This is the person who will be taking a detailed background of your life, from bodily systems to social networks. What I ask people to do is talk for a few minutes to determine if this is someone you could work with or not. Ask any questions and listen for how it is answered.

The first treatment appointment is usually more expensive due to the history intake. If you can tell in minutes on the phone that you don’t feel comfortable, call another practitioner. Please find one you feel comfortable with or is recommended by a trusted friend, so that you can get the most from your sessions.

Best of Luck!
Leslee Walker Ma. Ac., Dipl. Ac.

* There are a few states that have their own exams and requirements, but on a whole, most states acknowledge the NCCAOM as setting the bar for acupuncture excellence.