Acupuncture is an increasingly popular treatment and the variety of practitioners advertising it’s availability can be confusing. So the aim of this post is to help you choose the right practitioner for your needs.
Acupuncture is not a regulated profession in the UK, so in theory, anyone can set themselves up as an acupuncture practitioner having received minimal training. Fortunately, there are a number of voluntary regulatory bodies with whom practitioners can register to give the public a degree of quality assurance. It is a good idea to check which of these bodies a practitioner you are considering visiting is registered with, and to avoid receiving treatment from anyone who is not registered at all.
The training requirements in acupuncture of the 5 main regulatory bodies are very different though, and are summarised below. (1)
British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS):
State registered western medicine professionals, such as GPs
Training in acupuncture techniques. No training in Chinese medicine (CM) theory required
Minimum 30 hours
British Academy of Western Medical Acupuncturists (BAWMA):
State registered medical professionals, eg. nurses and midwives
Training in acupuncture techniques. No training in CM theory required
Minimum around 84 hours
Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP):
Training in acupuncture techniques. May include some basic CM theory
Minimum around 300 hours
Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM):
Chinese medicine professionals; acupuncturists, herbalists and Tuina practitioners
Training in acupuncture and CM theory
Minimum 3000 hours
British Acupuncture Council (BAcC):
Training in acupuncture and CM theory and western medicine physiology and pathology.
(The only regulatory body to meet WHO standards for training in acupuncture)
Minimum 3500 hours (degree level) plus minimum 30 hours per year continued training.
Most people who practice acupuncture will describe themselves as practising either western medical acupuncture or traditional acupuncture. So what’s the difference? It really comes down to training and approach.
British Acupuncture Council registered traditional acupuncturists are trained in both western medicine physiology and pathology and Chinese medicine theory and will usually use the latter when deciding which acupoints to treat.
Western medical acupuncturists are trained western medicine professionals who have undertaken additional training to enable them to use acupuncture techniques, but they won’t necessarily have any knowledge of the Chinese medicine theory upon which acupuncture is based.
You may sometimes come across western medical acupuncture being described as being based on modern scientific research evidence, but it is important to note that most modern research into acupuncture is actually carried out by fully trained traditional acupuncturists. (2)
Hopefully you can now choose your acupuncturist from a more informed viewpoint to make sure you see the right practitioner for your needs. If you would like to know more about traditional acupuncture and the related therapies available at Teesdale Acupuncture, please use the contact page on this website.
(1) Source https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCodokv9kEQoS0NppSN0Q2Sg
(2) MacPherson, H. (professor of acupuncture research, York University) keynote lecture at BAcC conference 2016.