Sandi Mann first thought the idea of community acupuncture, a group of people sitting in a room together with needles poking out, seemed a bit strange. But it didn’t take long before she was seeing Laura Thomas of Acupuncture for Humanity, Community Acupuncture Studio in Brattleboro once a week and loving it.
“I had been to a private acupuncture studio before, and when I heard about Laura I thought it sounded a little bit weird,” Mann said. “I was nervous when I first went in, because who likes to be poked, but Laura is so very comforting and is so good at relieving anxiety around acupuncture. Now I’ve been going every week and I feel an overall underlying sense of well-being and a sense of inner calm.”
While the use of acupuncture is a well-known traditional Chinese method of healing, what Thomas is doing in Brattleboro is making it available to everyone. Through the community acupuncture model, she is able to see more clients, offer more appointments and keep prices low. Now instead of being something only the wealthy can afford in a private session, anyone with just $15 can travel the path to overall health and well-being.
“In China, this is the traditional way to treat people. People in the room feed off the energy of the group and it cuts through the isolation or depression or pain they are dealing with,” Thomas said. “It is a very calming space and people are able to rest. When they leave, people are relaxed and I think they feel like they are being taken care of.”
“We have been open about six years and have done over 15,000 treatments, and most are a first experience with acupuncture,” said Michael Hurley, owner of the Cup of Life Healing Center in Keene. “There is no way I would be able to introduce so many people in this area to acupuncture without community acupuncture. It is a fantastic option to continue treatment all year long for self-care and preventative care or to avoid getting sick or injured.”
For those unfamiliar with acupuncture, this eastern form of healing is based on the idea of treating underlying patterns that indicate an imbalance in the body. When the imbalance is addressed, often the presenting symptoms decrease or disappear. Among the many issues acupuncture can assist with are pain, stress management and anxiety, autoimmune diseases, respiratory problems, PTSD, addiction, bipolar disorder or depression, infertility or pre-natal care, and oncology support for those battling cancer.
“People are fed up with being prescribed pharmaceuticals and not being given answers. With acupuncture they can find relief on the first or second treatment,” Hurley said.
“Acupuncture is a tool in the bag of Chinese medicine that can help with a lot of issues. It is really about bringing balance back into the body so the body can heal itself,” Thomas said. “Some things I see that are really common for our demographic area are stress, Lyme Disease, thyroid issues, high blood pressure and pain.”
What makes community acupuncture different from private acupuncture is that the acupuncturist sees multiple clients at one time in one room. He or she is able to move among clients treating them simultaneously. This does two things: first, they are able to see more patients in a day, and second, it keeps prices affordable.
“When I initially went it cost $75 per session. In my mind, I wanted to go more, but I can’t pay $150 a month,” Mann said. “But I can go to Laura every week. That makes it accessible to a lot of people who maybe wouldn’t go in the past. With Laura, they can afford to get effective treatment.”
Both Acupuncture for Humanity and Cup of Life Healing Center use a sliding scale. Sessions start at just $15 and extend to $45 depending on what the client can afford. At both places, income is never verified and it is up to the client’s discretion as to what they can pay that session. For Thomas and Hurley, having someone come in for a treatment, especially an individual who really can benefit, is more important than reviewing paystubs or tax statements.
“With the sliding scale people can come when they need to, not when they can afford to,” Thomas said. “This is a place where they can feel welcome, and comfortable and cared for. With conventional acupuncture people are left in rooms by themselves and some love it and some don’t. Here, I am in the room even if I am with another person. I help them learn to tune into their body so they know when they are done, but they can always stay as long as I am there.”
“The sliding scale for payment means I can help everyone in every socio-economic factor. It is also less than most co-pays so there is low risk to try it,” Hurley said. “Another piece is that I have several patients who like to come in together with their friends, or come in with their partner. In that sense it is a nice way to spend time together. Appointments are also more accessible in the community setting.”
“With acupuncture as a whole, if you can form the question, ‘Will acupuncture be good for...?’ most likely the answer is yes!” Hurley said.
To learn more or schedule an appointment please visit Acupuncture for Humanity at www.acupunctureforhumanity.com or Cup of Life Healing Center at www.cupoflifehealingcenter.com and www.facebook.com/CupofLifeHealingCenter.