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A Day in the Life of an Acupuncturist

Sussex-based Acupuncturist, David Bennett, originally qualified with a Degree in Applied Biology from Imperial College, University of London and went on to complete the first year of a PhD. He subsequently qualified with a Licentiate in Acupuncture from the College of Traditional Acupuncture (CTA) and now leads a mentoring group ShuHaRI for Junior Acupuncture Practitioners as well as running his core classical Five Element Practice at Marine Clinic in Rottingdean.

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What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

I think what day of the week is it? Is it a weekend day? Oh, great that means I can spend time with the family or hang out with the kids.  Is it a Clinic Day? Oh great, who have I got in today?

What’s Your Journey to work?

A seven-mile cycle, right along the seafront, from Hove to Rottingdean every day of the year – summer, winter – I’ll do it every day.

What happens when you get to the Clinic?

I usually get there about an hour before the first person arrives for treatment.  In that time there’s some mundane stuff like making sure the bins are empty and the rooms are ready for myself and the other Therapists; but I’ll also get some time in for a short meditation to make sure I’m feeling really sharp for the day.

How do you prepare for your clients?

No two clients are the same. Instead of the Western focus where the attention is on the symptoms that people have, the focus for an Acupuncturist is on the person who has got the symptoms.  With each individual, I’m interested in the symptoms they’ve got, but I also need to spend a lot of time getting an idea of where they are in their lives, what their stresses are, where they are getting really rundown or depleted because that’s what leaves them exposed or predisposed to gathering or accruing symptoms.

In my preparation for each patient, as well as listening to how they are doing with the symptoms, I want to be working out, if they’ve got a really stressful job interview or if they’ve had a tough time with an elderly parent.

What type of ailments do you help?

I’ve been in practice for 22 years now and I’ve treated physical related things like frozen shoulders, arthritic knees, pain in the lower back and sciatica, muscular skeletal ailments like that, but I also get people coming in with organ-related disorders. They might have digestive problems, bowel problems, IBS, Diverticulitis, respiratory problems and high blood pressure.   Probably, 90% of what I treat, whether it’s physically related or whatever, actually comes down to stress.  People get stressed out in their lives and this manifests in various ways in different individuals; that’s the root of it and that’s the what I treat really.

What type of clients do you have?

In the last month or so I’ve treated a six to seven-week-old infant with colic; teenagers who are going through stressful times at school and dipping into developing OCD and eating problems; people who have just completed the Marathon and lots of people in their 40s and 50s for stress-related issues.

There’s a huge chunk of people who just do too much, get worn out and then get all sorts of symptomology.  I treat a good few Carers and they absolutely fall into that category in a huge way because I think that people who find themselves in those roles are some of the most depleted people I see.

It’s non-stop, it goes on and on and on.  People get into it with the best intentions and then months or years down the line, they have accrued extreme levels of depletion because it’s an ongoing and often thankless task as it can be a lonely job.  They’re out there, doing the same stuff, day in and day out and the routine can be like a drip-drip erosion on their resources and lead to these high levels of depletion.

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Benefits to Carers of having Acupuncture

Five Element Acupuncture can be incredible valuable because we find the particular way you get exhausted and support that so again, if I had 10 Carers coming in, all supporting the same sort of people, we would support you in 10 different ways.  It’s very, very individualised.  The first session takes up to an hour and a half where we spend a good deal of time finding exactly how you are getting worn down.  If you’re getting dispirited as a Carer, or getting depressed, perhaps a little resentful of what’s going on, this is all OK, this is what happens to people and this is where acupuncture is brilliant at helping people build back up again and find their balance and their harmony.

Benefits to the elder generation of having Acupuncture

People in their later years can be accruing those arthritic changes and they can be accruing illnesses which can tip into life-limiting illnesses – acupuncture can be wonderful for helping people through that.

Now, we’re not going to cure arthritis, we’re not going to cure any life-limiting illnesses, but the support that acupuncture can offer in helping people through these days is wonderful.  One of the practitioners here at the Clinic is in her 60s and she seems to attract quite a few elderly people and she has a great rapport with them all.

We have people arriving in wheelchairs, on walking sticks and one of the loveliest things we have had a few times is that as people are leaving the Clinic, we have to call them back because they have forgotten their walking sticks.

Why do you do what you do and what do you love about your job?

I’ve always been in awe of how life works.  That’s why I did my original degree in Biology, it just attracted me, and I found it wonderful to find out all about it.  So, to work with people on the level that you get through acupuncture is just a gift, it’s a privilege to see how people engage with their lives and to be a facilitator to help them tweak it so it works a little bit better, is just great.

Do you have any specific success stories?

There’s lots of them. I’ve had a couple of people who have been going through Chemotherapy for various Cancers who have done so extraordinarily well with acupuncture support during Chemotherapy.  I had one patient who was on a drugs research project and the Nurse asked her what she was doing differently as her blood work results were so different to everyone else on the trial.  The only thing they could work out was that she was having acupuncture.

What made you first want to become an Acupuncturist?

After my Degree, I ran a restaurant in Camden in North London.  I loved it, it was so social and fun, but I didn’t want to become a restaurateur. I knew I wanted to work with people, and spent a little time looking around at things.  I’d looked at care work, social work, psychotherapy, counselling.  They were kind of getting there for me, but not quite right.  I was actually looking for an evening course to do for fun and the Floodlight Evening Course Directory happened to fall open on an ‘Introduction to Acupuncture’ course.

In one word, how does your work make you feel?


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