I have often thought that the tone was firmly set early on when I was asked to teach an evening class about acupuncture at a
This allowed me a freedom to be cherished, something I did not realise until later, for I was able to develop my own ideas quite independently of other professional acupuncturists, and quite unhampered or inhibited by opinions about the practice of acupuncture which might well have differed from mine. When I rejoined my fellow acupuncturists two years later as part of my first advanced training course under JR Worsley, I brought the often rather odd ideas I had developed into my time with him, a time which proved to be the most exhilarating of all my years of acupuncture training. It also proved to be a time of heightened tension in the five element world as it coincided with JR Worsley’s own fight to keep the college he had nurtured so carefully for the past 20 years untainted by the introduction of other less traditional forms of acupuncture as he felt strongly it would be. Eventually he lost this fight and had to resign, and this led almost directly to my starting the School of Five Element Acupuncture (SOFEA) with the express intention of continuing his work of spreading the practice of this branch of acupuncture, and often, to my delight, with his active support.
I took every opportunity I could to observe JR in his interactions with patients, and was fortunate that the time of my postgraduate training with him coincided with his last years at
It was during this period of intense activity that I experienced many of the seminal moments which have set my acupuncture practice on such a fulfilling course. In particular I am now enjoying reliving some of the profound lessons I learnt when studying with JR. The first of these occurred when I was sitting in the classroom at the
One of the tips I also learnt from JR Worsley, which I have followed successfully ever since in all cases where my relationship to my patient is under some strain, is always to be honest with the patient, and tell them as soon as I sense that there is a problem. You need to be brave enough to ask them whether they, too, feel that this is so. I always preface what I say with the words, “I feel that ….” Saying this removes any risk of the patient feeling that we are blaming them for what is not right, and gives them the courage to be open with us. I am then often surprised by my patients’ answers, which may be quite different from what I have imagined. This frankness between us goes a long way to solving some of the tricky patient/practitioner issues which complicate our work.
For treatment to be successful it is always essential that both patient and practitioner are equally involved, 50% the patient and 50% the practitioner. We cannot do good work if we are not sure what is going on in the practice room. It is therefore good to remember that we can never help a patient who is reluctant to receive treatment. As soon as we sense this, we need to stop what we are doing and address the issue.