It’s pretty simple. The number one crisis in American Healthcare is that for most individuals who need help, no one is listening. Those doctors who cast a hurried ear in the direction of their patients too often do so while mentally speeding up the encounter to encompass sometimes premature diagnoses and pharmaceutical treatment strategies–all before the patient has had a chance to reveal their concerns in a way that is possible for them. Not everyone can enter a doctor’s office with an efficient list of well-thought out issues, and follow-up questions well-prepared for all the many possible responses the doctor may give. Most Docotrs are unable to spend the time it takes to listen deeply to what is behind the patient’s articulation (or lack of articulation) of the issues at hand. This is a shared crisis–all of us are responsible. It’s not the fault of any one party. There has been far too much doctor-bashing on this issue. I don’t share that view. The depth and breath of knowledge that doctors carry in their heads every day is daunting. Add to that impressive mental occupation the pressure to utilize technological and pharmaceutical methodologies (or suffer the often litigious consequences), it’s no wonder most doctors cannot find the time to engage in deep listening to their clients.

Many practitioners of diverse medical paradigms–osteopaths, MDs, naturopaths, and acupuncturists–build their practices around an alternative model of practice, allowing 60-120 minutes per visit, in which deep listening is the primary goal of that extended visit. For me, an acupuncturist, this is the practice model that allows me the most personal satisfaction, because every time a client shares a little more of their story with me it feels like a gift. I am always striving to honor that gift by facilitating the best acupuncture treatment I can cultivate from my present level of knowledge, understanding and intent.

As an acupuncturist I have an advantage over some other practitioners in the realm of deep listening. Our diagnostic methodologies, including tongue and pulse diagnosis, abdominal and meridian palpation and observation provide excellent avenues through which the story behind the visit can reveal itself regardless of the client’s ability to use words to articulate that same story in a way the acupuncturist can understand. Pulse diagnosis, the ability to read a variety of qualities and to compare sepcific parameters at 6 locations and 2 depths on the radial pulses of both arms (totalling 12 discrete “pulses”) is my favorite.

If you haven’t been to an acupuncturist who uses pulse diagnosis (and who can explain her findings to you in lay terms), you may be surprised at what you can learn about yourself from this amazing diagnostic methodology. One of the unexpected results of regular acupuncture that I have observed in many of my clients is that acupuncture educates them about their own health. They become better able to identify and communicate ever more subtle shifts in their condition.