Acupuncturists tend to rely too much on the words of their profession when talking to patients. Understandably, when the first question a prospective patient asks is “How does it work?” The practitioner is very tempted to actually answer that question. In general the practitioner attempts to give a mini presentation to the patient about how to understand the theory behind acupuncture. Often the prospective patient's eyes glaze over and they walk away.
First, the acupuncturist should realize that the prospective patient probably does not care how acupuncture works. They want to get beyond the idea that this little needle can help them. They understand pills. They go in their body and do something. In that same way, talking to the potential patient about the fact that needles also does something in the body is important.
What is done has never been scientifically answered in the language of the west. Scientists have verified that things have been done. Studies generally show that changes take place in the body after acupuncture. Brain imaging shows differences before and after acupuncture, even if they can not pinpoint exactly how the changes are taking place.
Second, the acupuncturist needs to realize that using terms like the body's energy system or just energy may turn off potential patients as well. Energy medicine can seem out there to potential patients who see themselves as grounded in traditional medicine. These people want to know how, from a scientific view point.
Practitioners who have a solid grounding in physics can talk about the fact that quantum physics now knows that particles can either be a mass or an energy wave. Familiar allopathic medicine works with the mass. Acupuncture works with the energy wave.
Third, the acupuncturist should really listen to the potential patient. They need to find out exactly what the person wants to know. Do they need reassurance that it works? Do they need reassurance that it can help their condition? Do they just need to know that they have something in common with the acupuncturist? People often claim to be afraid of the needles, but is it really the problems they are afraid of or the unknown?
Making potential patients feel comfortable should be the acupuncturist's main focus. Talking to people in language that they understand and really understanding their questions will go a long way to helping them decide if acupuncture can help them. It can take a lot of the fear out of the process of first coming into the office. Good communication and taking patient concerns seriously and discussing them can mean greater practice growth. The patients who know that the practitioner cares about their concerns are far more likely to refer friends as well.