Community acupuncture clinics are popping up all over the country.

The premise is simple: by providing an open room atmosphere with comfortable recliners, acupuncturists can treat more patients at once. This model lowers the practitioners’ costs so the visits are more affordable for you, the patient.

While the idea is enticing, the truth is that there are both pros and cons to the community acupuncture model.


1) The true benefits of acupuncture are cumulative, so the ability to come in for a weekly or bi-weekly treatment is essential for more lasting results in most cases. Community acupuncture provides a sliding scale, making regular treatments affordable for almost everyone.

2) Due to the open setting, community acupuncture clinics generally only treat the head and limbs. Still, treatments can be very effective.

This is because acupuncture is based on meridian theory. Meridians are energetic channels that run along specific lines in the body, connecting different areas that might not seem related from a western perspective.

Using these connections, specific points on the legs and arms can be just as effective at treating a stomach ache, (or any illness for that matter!) as local points would be in a full-body treatment.

3) For patients that have experienced trauma, community acupuncture can be more reassuring than a regular private session. Because the treatments take place in an open room with other patients, and no wardrobe changes have to be made, trauma-survivors may feel more comfortable in this setting, especially if they don’t know the practitioner very well.


1) Although the first visit may be slightly more in-depth, community acupuncturists aren’t available to talk to their patients for an extended period of time. Lacking the time to really get to know their patients, practitioners can miss out on some vital information and therapeutic opportunities.

2) One-on-one acupuncture sessions are often composed of a few different stages.

For example, a practitioner might have you start face-up, provide acupuncture treatment, let you rest for a few minutes, and then come back, re-evaluate, and then give you a back treatment as well.

They might also choose to use different kinds of techniques like bodywork, moxa, or cupping therapies.

Unfortunately, with the time constraint and physical limitations built into the community acupuncture setting, this kind of multi-layered treatment becomes virtually impossible.

3) Embedded in Chinese medicine is the principle that the mind and body are connected. Thus, physical restrictions may be caused by long-held emotional patterns, and vice versa.

For this reason, acupuncture treatment can bring up emotional reactions like laughter or crying. When this happens, it is best to allow these emotions to come into their full expression so that they can pass through.

It is relatively easy to laugh or cry loudly in a private acupuncture session, but could be disruptive in a community setting.

Yet, if these reactions are inhibited, the emotions may remain stuck in the body, and the imbalances they stem from will stay stuck too. This inhibition can render the treatments ineffective.

So, what kind of acupuncture should you seek out?

If you are new to acupuncture and don’t want to spend a lot of money, you might want to try community acupuncture. It is not as big of an investment and can be beneficial, especially in acute cases.

However, an in-depth, one-on-one session can give you a more holistic experience and understanding of Chinese medicine, with the practitioner’s undivided attention on helping you meet your health goals.

Additionally, most acupuncturists offer free phone consultations to support patients in finding the right treatment.

Finally, if you’re on a tight budget but would like to explore one-on-one treatments, ask around to see if there’s an acupuncturist in your area who offers package deals or modified rates. You might be delighted to find that the answer is yes!