Acupuncture and the coronavirus By Emily Carson

How can health care practitioners continue working during the Coronavirus crisis?

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the challenge of these times for a community of self-employed healthcare practitioners such as myself. It is at times like these when the connection, communication and support between us feels more important than ever.

My work as an acupuncturist and craniosacral therapist, centres around embodied, somatic awareness and enquiry. I also work with lifestyle and dietary consideration.

At the end of last week, I stopped seeing patients in person. The clinic I am working at has now closed until the end of May. I’ve been in practice for 10 years and, like the majority of acupuncturists, have a long-standing relationship with a community of people who have been coming regularly to see me for treatments.

Through increased social distancing and isolation, I can imagine a good number of us have closed our clinic doors for an unknown period.

As the days moved closer to ending in-person sessions, my instinct became stronger about remaining in connection with my patients. Whilst my physical clinic door has had to close, I feel the connection and work with my clients, the care, established relationships and nervous system regulation do not need to cease.

Feeling the importance of social connection, of making care and regulation available to people, I have been ruminating over creative ways to continue this work.

As events with Covid19 have unfolded, and despite financial concerns, I have realised that I am quite well resourced.

If we can model care and connection for patients at this time, if we can support them to attune to what they are feeling amidst the unknown, to offer grounding and regulation, this potentially helps them in their time in isolation with themselves and their families. In my view, this is an important continuation of care.

As a community of practitioners, we have built significant relationships with others over the years and play key roles in our clients’ lives. If your clinic door has closed how might you open that door in a virtual way?

I emailed my patients last week to inform them I was no longer able to see them in person until June. I also said I would be offering one-to-one sessions online via Zoom or Skype for anyone that felt that they would like to continue our work. So far, I have five people keen to do so. This is five more than I was expecting!

I will also be offering weekly Zoom calls with my community of clients – a 35-minute call where there is time to check in and see how people are doing. The key element of the call will be the offering of an embodied awareness practice. I often use somatic body scans with clients and this is something I feel comfortable working with online.

How we respond to this crisis, how our new way of working will manifest, will be different for all of us.

As a self-employed single mum, I have financial concerns, of course. Yet, I feel I will be able to utilise this time to recalibrate. We are stepping into the unknown but that’s not something I fear. Thanks to dog-walking, yoga, meditation and talking to friends, I feel I’m well-resourced and able to cope with this situation.

Do not underestimate the importance of the regulation that you offer to other people at this time. Resource yourselves well because creativity flows best when we are resourced and not in panic. Let’s keep talking about how we are working with our patients.

The community and co-regulation we have between peers is an important part of our professional regulation.

Emily Carson is a graduate of CICM. She works in Oxford.

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