3 Unexpected Ways EV Can Enhance Your Practice
Kailey Brennan from Alpenglow Acupuncture
With steady engagement with the EV material and consistent practice and utilization of the palpation techniques, in time anybody can come to discover how the EV material can enhance their practice of acupuncture and herbal medicine, expand their capacity to flexibly approach patient’s problems from a multitude of viewpoints, and deepen their appreciation for the practice of East Asian medicine.
Here are just a few of the unexpected ways I have found practicing EV to support and aid me in my workaday life in the clinic:
Is it helpful or is it irritating?
I had vague intimations before studying EV that certain techniques in the TEAM repertoire might not always be useful in the course of a treatment and could even be irritating for some patients in certain instances. Practicing EV has helped me to develop more clarity around this issue in my practice. For instance, some patients seem to respond really well to auricular acupuncture, while others seem to not. When patients respond well to a few well placed auricular needles, they tend to experience a settling and suppling in their Shape of Qi, as well as in their pulse, and will go into a stillpoint. But there are other instances where an auricular needle can cause a person’s Yang Rhythm to get buzzy and their Shape of Qi to float or tense up. Taking the needle out quickly can mitigate this less than optimal response. I am also coming to discover that a similar dynamic can play out when doing any kind of trigger point needling on patients - sometimes it can be a useful intervention, other times it is not. It is very helpful to get this kind of real time feedback in the course of treating, and to be able to use the palpation techniques as a barometer to gauge whether or not a particular intervention is going to be helpful or not for a particular patient at a given time.
Greater willingness to make treatment recommendations
Like many practitioners, I have patients who are not interested in taking herbs. I definitely try to be respectful and accommodating of patients’ preferences, and as a newer practitioner in my first five years of practice, I definitely err more on the easygoing side for the most part. But I have come to discover that being overly accommodating in certain cases isn’t necessarily the most helpful thing I can do for the patients I see. I’ve become more willing to state my case to patients when I feel that taking herbs would be the best way to expedite their healing process, and this has really come about from steadily working with the EV palpation techniques, and especially from the material in the Visceral Course. Many times a course of acupuncture treatments will somewhat improve a patient’s visceral presentation, along with their symptoms, but not as optimally without an herbal formula being added into the mix. This slow discovery has made me even more willing to advocate for the use of herbs with certain patients from the beginning.
First things first
It was a big leap to start doing the whole palpation protocol with first time patients before sitting down with them to go over their initial paperwork. I was concerned that patients would find it strange and off-putting and maybe wouldn’t come back. But those concerns didn’t really amount to anything, and most first timers completely roll with it. Although I don’t always do the initial protocol all the time with every patient, I am always glad when I do, especially with very complex clinical presentations. Doing the palpation protocol before getting a chance to know a patient’s chief presenting complaint can give me some touchstones for what I think may be going on and what may be the most useful way to approach treatment that day. Getting an overall read on a patient’s Shape of Qi, if they have a Problem Place, where the Yang Rhythm isn’t moving well - getting some immediate feedback from these palpation tools with a clear mind and without any preconceptions of what might be going on can help really ground the entire first time appointment in the immediacy of the moment. Particularly when the patient’s case is complex, their medical history long and winding, their pulse and tongue presentation is confusing, and if their distress is particularly heightened due to the severity of their symptoms, I find it immensely helpful to have some particular palpatory referents to orient to for that day. I am less inclined to get caught up and distracted by my own anxiety about whether or not I may be able to help someone, or any of my other self-absorbed personal narratives.