The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
I have an acupuncture practice and also run a company that offers seminars to our profession. In the interest of learning more about how my clients are thinking and what their real needs are, I recently sent out a survey. I asked questions to get inside their heads – to learn what they really want in the way of education, support and new products. I also asked them what they most struggle with in their businesses.
I also recently facilitated a master mind group with some acupuncture colleagues, where we talked about the challenges each member is facing in moving their business forward in this new year. From both the survey and the discussion in the live group, a pattern became very clear. Most of my customers and colleagues struggle with what I will call patient compliance issues.
First, even when current or potential clients admit they have health issues and need the help, they are often unmotivated to actually do much about it. They procrastinate on coming in to see the acupuncturist, and when they do come, they often just come for sporadic sessions and don't commit to the required program that could resolve their issues.
Second, patients who are seeing the acupuncturist for a series of sessions often don't follow through on the things they need to do for themselves. They are willing to plunk themselves down on the treatment table and receive treatment, but are not motivated to change their diet, take necessary herbs regularly, do inner work to change their limiting beliefs or make other empowering changes in their life that could alleviate the root cause of their complaints.
We are a group of highly trained and dedicated professionals who could help loads of people transform their lives into more healthy, energized patterns, and in some cases help them lead more fulfilling lives. Yet most of us experience a major lack of motivation from people who could take advantage of our services.
On the surface, we could explain this by saying that the clients "can't afford the services," "are too busy," "would rather wait for a crisis and then have a M.D. do emergency intervention" or other common explanations for this behavior. Can we look deeper into what is really happening?
The participants in our master mind group had been sharing about this common problem outlined above. They had been agreeing that potential patients had a hard time moving out of their comfort zone in stepping forward to make changes in their lives. I shared that a major reason so many people are reluctant to start a new course of treatments is that they have already done that so many times before with disappointing results.
Most people carry some form of chronic pain with them throughout their lives. This pain could be physical, emotional, pain about unfulfilling relationships, struggles with money, weak immune system or more. They have probably tried so many avenues for healing themselves including M.D.'s, self help books, religion, chiropractors, or maybe other acupuncturists. People with significant complaints have often been more disappointed than delighted by the results of all that.
Why do people carry hard-to-resolve pain throughout their lives? That is a big discussion, but I will offer a perspective here based on the causal, soul levels. Our Earth is a place of rapid growth and evolution, especially at this time in history. Souls that incarnate on Earth have made the decision to roll up their proverbial sleeves and do a lot of intense transformation and offer more service to their fellow beings. To the ego self this often feels painful, frustrating, scary and downright challenging. But there is a higher purpose in all this churning. In this process, our souls are purifying, releasing dark areas of blockage, making amends and gaining virtue and wisdom. This is the process of purification and enlightenment – the master game we are here to play.
Back to our reluctant prospective patients. Their souls chose to be here in this intense learning situation. Their pains, neuroses, money struggles, fatigue, addictions, Lymes disease, etc. are their challenges and learning opportunities. It is through fully feeling the deeper truth of who they are and claiming it, of moving out of victim consciousness into empowerment that they truly heal. They most fully heal as their focus moves from "me first" to being of service and sharing their greatest gifts with the world.
But this takes a high degree of motivation and devotion to their heart and their truth. As long as they have a big screen TV at home, the latest sitcom to watch, family and other tribal needs to keep them occupied and their "drug of choice" to keep them comfortably numbed, they will likely put off really doing their inner work. Drugs of choice are not just chemicals – they can include workaholism, addiction to emotional drama, staying very socially active without alone time, serial spiritual searching and more.
So now it becomes clearer why our prospective patients and clients are reluctant to move out of their comfort zones and step forward to get the help they need – especially in America.
One woman participating in our discussion got an "aha moment" during our conversation. She was expressing her frustration about not getting enough new clients, and the non-compliance of her current ones. She then told me that she knows that she needs to get out in the community more to do talks and demonstrations, but she is rather shy and finds it uncomfortable. I reflected this to her - if you are unwilling to move out of your comfort zone, why would you expect your patients to move out of theirs? At that moment she got it! She understood that the world is a big hologram. Her prospects were simply mirroring her behavior and patterns.
Marketing your practice is not just about advertising and doing a list of promotional activities. Ghandi has been quoted as saying: "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do." This has often been paraphrased as, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
So the top way to promote your practice or business is to "be the change you want to see." Make sure that you are moving out of your comfort zone regularly. Live on your own cutting edge and inspire yourself. Keep learning to increase your clinical skills and healing abilities. This will likely involve some scary or painful moments of stretching yourself. It could involve choosing to live more of a healthy self-discipline by doing your own spiritual and physical practices. But it is so worth it!
As you are leading by example and share your experiences, you will inspire more of your target market to be willing to move out of their comfort zone and come to get care from you. You will attract more of your own devoted following.
The other vital activity for building your practice is sharing your knowledge and your personal experience with others more often. I believe that blogging, writing and offering talks is a great way to do that. I'm sure you've heard that the most terrifying phobia for most people is public speaking. This, therefore, is another great way to move out of your comfort zone to lead by example.Fear is an endemic aspect of human existance. Let's accept that our patients and prospective clients frequently dwell on fear about their lives, their futures and usually afraid to spend money on seeking your care. To earn their trust and interest in your practice you will need to show them that you are moving through your own fear by taking bold action to keep healing and evolving yourself, and raising the level of the services you are offering them.