This is a question you may ask yourself daily but why am I finding multiple people coming to me with this question lately? I assure you, it’s not because of my well-respected fashion sense. As more people are being introduced to acupuncture, there are so many things they aren’t familiar with and proper treatment attire is one of them. It’s been suggested (more than once) that I make some comment about it on my website so here it goes.
Part of me is curious about what has this is coming up so commonly now after years of practice. I have questions about what may have shifted that’s bringing about this increased discomfort in the unknown and the desire to “get it right” the first time. Perhaps I’ll comment on that more at another time and maybe you can see if any of that is showing up in you. For now, here are some of my thoughts on what to wear to treatment.
Auricular Acupuncture – Treats the whole person using points on the ear.
What to wear: Any clothes you normally wear that can be adjusted to make your ears available. You are welcome to keep in most jewelry and earrings unless otherwise stated. If you have long hair, it’s best to tie or pin it back as to not disrupt the pins.
Community Acupuncture – Mainly works with points from the elbow to fingertips, knees to toes, and points on the head and face.
What to wear: Shorts and a t-shirt or pants and sleeves that can easily be pushed up to make these points available. Keep in mind that you will be getting treatment in a space with others so consider your comfort in having these areas exposed in a group setting.
Individual Treatment – There are points all over the body and there is a greater possibility of utilizing additional points in a private setting.
What to wear: There is more variety here and each practitioner is different. Stick to your comfort level and feel free to contact your acupuncturist if you have questions about how they practice.
Option 1– Some practitioners request that patients remove clothing aside from underwear and cover with a gown or sheets on the treatment table. When the practitioner comes back in, they move sheets to expose points needed for care while ensuring the individual stays well-draped. Think of your typical visit for a physical with your doctor.
Option 2 – A practitioner does their initial diagnosis for the day, shares the plan with the client, and gives instruction on how the individual might remove or adjust clothing to move forward with treatment.
Option 3 – You wear whatever you want and the practitioner will work around clothing you have on. If you want to keep on your skinny jeans and sweater, fine by me. Understand that the points available are restricted by this choice and it may, at times, limit or slow your progress in treatment. That being said, there are many paths to healing and your practitioner can work with points you’re comfortable using.
In my practice, I do a combination of all of the above-mentioned options. I have clients who come from work and change into their shorts/tank tops before treatment. I have clients who I mainly treat using points on the forearms and lower leg, accessible with their everyday clothes on. More commonly, I discuss my treatment plan for the day and have people adjust or remove clothing as necessary. I am sure to have enough sheets and blankets, a table warmer and some creativity to keep people warm, covered and comfortable regardless of what the clothing situation is.
The most important thing to remember is that this is YOUR treatment. If a practitioner discusses their plan with you and it involves anything you’re not comfortable with, state that. Be your own advocate. Acupuncturists are medical professionals who will treat you with the same level of professionalism and respect you’d desire from any doctor you see. Remember that there’s really no getting it wrong or right. Leave the thinking and planning up to your practitioner and just enjoy b