Finding an Acupuncturist can be a bit daunting. The term Acupuncturist is a protected title limited only to Registered or Licensed Acupuncturists. Other health care practitioners may provide an acupuncture service, such as a physician “medical acupuncture”, or physiotherapists and chiropractors who often refer to the needling that they do simply as “needling” or “dry needling”. As a Registered Acupuncturist, I am an advocate for acupuncture to be performed by Registered Acupuncturists. Registered Acupuncturists have the most in-depth and intensive training, and are Board Certified and Registered through their regulatory bodies. In Alberta, Registered Acupuncturists are governed by the College and Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta.

Simply- there are no two Acupuncturists alike. Below are six great questions to help you choose the right Acupuncturist for you! (or someone simply performing acupuncture- most often “medical acupuncture”)

1) What is their education?

This may be the most important question that you ask.  Unfortunately it’s not asked frequently enough.  Patients are led to believe that any practitioner who is trained or certified to practice acupuncture is highly qualified in the art of diagnosis and treatment using the principles of Chinese Medicine.  Not always so.

Here are some of your choices:

  • A physician can perform acupuncture after having 50 hours of training.  This is called “medical acupuncture”. If you are considering medical acupuncture, look for a doctor who is a member of the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada.
  • Chiropractor’s and Physiotherapists who perform “acupuncture” may only be required to have 50 of unspecified training in acupuncture—depending on the province in which they’re licensed to perform chiropractic or physiotherapy.  Legally they are limited only to performing acupuncture treatments that augment chiropractic adjustments or physiotherapy treatments (ie: only musculoskeletal issues).
  • Registered Acupuncturists (RAc.) have an Acupuncture Diploma or Doctoral degree in Acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine.  They are also required to have a minimum of 1,800 to 2,400 hours of education and clinical training, depending on individual provincial requirements, and some, like myself, up to 5000 hours of training, plus continuing education hours logged every single year. In Alberta, Registered Acupuncturists are regulated by the College and Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta. Acupuncturists are generally trained to treat the whole body, and many conditions.  However, many specialize in treating certain conditions, such as muscle and joint pain, stress and anxiety, infertility, or women’s conditions.  It is important to ask whether a prospective practitioner has had some experience in treating your condition.  It is also important to ask what kind of results they have had in treating your particular condition.

At NUNOVA WELLNESS, all of our practitioners providing acupuncture are Registered Acupuncturists.

2) What kind of acupuncture do they practice?

There are many different kinds of acupuncture, such as Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, sports medicine acupuncture, IMS, dry-needling, ear acupuncture, Japanese style, Korean Hand acupuncture, cosmetic acupuncture, and scalp acupuncture.  Some of these different kinds of acupuncture are more effective for specific conditions.  Be sure to ask what conditions are best helped by your practitioner’s kind of acupuncture.

At Nunova Wellness, we practice Traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture, sports medicine acupuncture, IMS & dry-needling.

3) How many treatments will you need and how often?

No practitioner should tell you how many treatments you will need on the phone before they have seen you, taken your health history, and made a diagnosis.  In fact, everyone heals at a different pace.  Your condition may be resolved in one or two treatments, or it may take many more. Generally, how long it takes you to heal depends on how long you have had your condition, the severity of your symptoms, your overall health, and the underlying cause of your condition. I book in new assessment patients with 6-10 initial appointments booked over the first 4-6 weeks of treatment. This is adjusted as needed after an initial assessment, depending on the problem and diagnosis.

4) Do they offer anything else beyond acupuncture?

There are a number of other kinds of treatments that come under the umbrella of Chinese medicine, and it’s important to ask what, if any, a practitioner offers.  Many Registered Acupuncturists are also Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and can prescribe herbal formulas to address your particular condition.  The herbs may come in the form of small pills, capsules, teas, powders, and raw herbs that must be cooked.  Herbal medicine is a good way to augment your acupuncture treatment, and can be tailored to your specific needs.

Many acupuncturists provide help in the form of diet, and lifestyle therapy.  They can help you incorporate foods into your diet that are most beneficial to your particular condition.  In addition to food therapy, some practitioners incorporate lifestyle counseling into their treatments.

Other treatments that may be offered include cupping, heat therapy and moxibustion.

5) Ask about the Investment.

The investment of an acupuncture treatment will vary based on the experience of a practitioner, their style of acupuncture, and location.  Treatments in cities are likely to be more expensive than in smaller areas. Be sure to ask a practitioner what they charge, both for initial treatments and for follow-up visits. Also ask about methods of payment, and when payment is due.

6) Do they accept your extended health insurance?

Many health care plans currently pay for acupuncture treatments and Acupuncturist services.  Check in advance if your extended health insurance covers acupuncture. Many acupuncture clinics even direct bill most extended health plans. Here at NUNOVA WELLNESS, we direct bill almost every provider. Be sure to check if your plan covers Acupuncture, by a Registered Acupuncturist and if they allow direct billing to be done on your behalf.

Devonne Nafziger, DTCM, RH, RAc.
Devonne Nafziger, DTCM, RH, RAc.

Devonne Nafziger is a Registered Acupuncturist, Registered Herbalist, as well as Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and is the owner and founder of NUNOVA Wellness; a wellness clinic located in Innisfail, AB. She is also an internationally available consultant providing expertise for private health clinics wanting to improve their management, functionality and profits; health clinics wishing to expand their integrative medicine, as well companies and corporations looking to improve the health and wellness for their offices and or employees.