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Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Field Experience

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices are frequently applied simultaneously with traditional conventional treatments. CAM comprises such directions as acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy, herbal medicine, chiropractic, and some others. They can be integrated into the traditional process of treatment or used as independent practices. For this field experience, I have selected an acupuncture CAM practitioner.

Acupuncture is one of the oldest practices, which aims to recover the natural flow of energy in the human body with the help of small needles placed at particular points. Moreover, it is one of the best-researched CAM practices. For example, acupuncture has a proved efficiency in treating depression in a woman (Sniezek & Siddiqui, 2013). Also, this CAM practice is considered to be effective for managing depression insomnia (Chen et al., 2013). Thus, I have visited one of the acupuncture practitioners in Miami.

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I have chosen a certified acupuncture practitioner who is also a doctor of Chinese medicine and a licensed massage therapist with more than 20 years of experience in private practice in Miami. I have been feeling anxious recently, and since anxiety can be a sign of depression, I decided to try acupuncture because it is proved to be efficient in depression treatment (MacPherson et al., 2013).

Thus, I came with the symptoms of mild depression. I have expected to get the treatment immediately, but the practitioner started a general health assessment similar to that provided by physicians. I was asked questions about my current symptoms, current and past treatments, medical history (both mine and that of my family), peculiarities of my diet, my sleeping patterns, and the emotions experienced recently.

Also, the practitioner took my pulse and examined my tongue. Only after that, the acupuncturist determined the points on my body that had to be stimulated, and the treatment began. I did not feel any pain when the needles were inserted. Despite the fact that I was skeptical about this session, I should admit that I felt relaxed after it. The whole meeting, including the assessment, lasted for about an hour and a half, and the treatment itself for 30-35 minutes.


After the general health assessment, the acupuncturist recommended starting with four subsequent treatment sessions at a one-week interval. After that, the assessment of my responsiveness to treatment is conducted. In case of good response, 3-4 sessions are enough, while patients with lower responsiveness to acupuncture or in a more complicated condition may need more sessions. In addition to therapy, the practitioner gave me some recommendations about my diet and lifestyle as a whole. Thus, it will be useful for me to reduce the consumption of meat and fats and eat more fruit and vegetables instead. Also, I should walk before going to bed to improve my sleep and general well-being.


Acupuncture is generally treated as a SPA procedure, which is a wrong interpretation. Nevertheless, it is more like a medical intervention and demands special education and training for the specialist. A professional acupuncture practitioner conducts a general assessment prior to the treatment to make a picture of the patient’s condition and define the major problem areas to address during the session. The assessment helps to define the acupuncture points. The length of treatment depends on the type of the problem, its severity, and the responsiveness of every patient to acupuncture.