How does the Community Acupuncture Project of West Seattle support sustainability?

We lower barriers to health care through reduced rates; offer a group setting where friends and family can be seen at the same time, and are open as often as possible. Our practitioners offer LGBTQ competent care, speak Spanish, Vietnamese and English, and are trained in trauma informed care. By practicing liberation acupuncture, we are striving for our clinic to be not just a business or a form of health care, but a tool for the health of our community. What do these terms mean?

Trauma Informed Care can be broadly recognized by these four principles. “A program, organization, or system that is trauma informed:

– Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery;
– Recognizes  the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system;
– Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
– Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.”

Liberation Acupuncture is a framework and touchstone for understanding why we practice the way we do. It is heavily inspired by the writings of Ignacio Martin-Baro. Martin-Baro was a Spaniard who lived in El Salvador and was a proponent of liberation psychology. He insisted that a practice had to be useful and valuable to the popular majority.

There are two main reasons why new patients tell us they haven’t tried acupuncture before. 1. Fear or concern about needles. 2. The standard fees are beyond their ability to pay. When a medical therapy is expensive, very few people can afford it. I would not define that situation as “useful and valuable to the popular majority.”

A third reason people give to me for not seeking acupuncture treatment is: many of them have been traumatized by the health care system itself. Lisa Rohleder, in her book “Acupuncture Points Are Holes,” writes: “In our culture, physical and mental suffering marginalize people; I spent two decades as an acupuncturist watching chronic pain push people to the edges of society. I don’t think I can overstate how meaningful and powerful it’s been for me to reverse that in my own life and work. The point of Liberation Acupuncture is to create community that includes suffering people.”

At the heart of community acupuncture and liberation acupuncture is the belief that acupuncture works but only when you can use it. We community acupuncturists want to be useful to our communities and want people to get the care they need.