A new study done in the United Kingdom shows that acupuncture is just as effective as counseling in patients with moderate to severe depression. According to the researchers, up to 60 percent of patients with depression have an inadequate response to antidepressants, and 30 percent do not stick to their medication regimen. They also note that there is a growing patient demand for non-pharmacologic treatment options. Of course, outside of experimental settings, acupuncture treatments can include aspects of counseling.
Counseling has been an integral aspect of my approach to acupuncture since I began practicing in 1996, coming to the work as a licensed clinical social worker. I had thought I was leaving social work behind, but instead have found it to be a great foundation for acupuncture.
In social work empowerment means that you assist people in developing the awareness that they have their own strengths and resources to solve their own problems. In my approach to acupuncture, I have found that the needles also have the ability to empower people. Acupuncture reminds the body that it knows how to heal itself.
I always say, “I am holding both ends of the string and the knot is untying itself.” It is the patient’s response that empowers the treatment.
The words we choose as healers have a similar aim, to help discover where the person’s strength is blocked and where it is evident. The conversations may be shorter than in a traditional counseling session, yet the intention is the same, to return the person to an innate state of health and balance.