Darren Haines

An interview with Darren Haines, Acupuncturist at Shaftesbury Clinic

Acupuncturist Darren Haines joined the team at Shaftesbury Clinic in March 2022.   Helen caught up with him to find out more about his journey into acupuncture, what he does in his everyday practise, and what inspires him in his work.

Fact File:

  • ☼ Darren qualified in from The Acupuncture Academy in Leamington Spa, with a Licentiate in Acupuncture (Lic.Ac.) after 3 years’ degree-level training
  • ☼ As a member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), Darren adheres to the BAcC Codes of Safe Practice and Professional Conduct
  • ☼  Darren has full public liability insurance and professional indemnity cover, and is licensed by Bedford Borough Council to work as an acupuncturist at Shaftesbury Clinic
  • ☼  BAcC members are also registered with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) a government body which regulates the regulatory and registration bodies of health and social care providers and is accountable to parliament

Helen:  What was your work before acupuncture?

Darren:  I worked in PR for over 20 years, with leading High Street retailers and Sports brands, at a high level, but over the years I found that the sector had changed, and it was different to the industry I started out in at the beginning of my career.  At that stage, I began to feel like I wanted to make a move into a more fulfilling role, in a career that could be more rewarding. 

At around this time, I had an experience where acupuncture made a real difference to the outcome of a life-changing event; seeing the difference for a family member from treatment with Philip Rose-Neil, here at Shaftesbury Clinic proved to be a strong inspiration.  I then also came to see Phil myself as a patient, and speaking with him about the theories and mechanisms behind acupuncture, my interest in acupuncture as a career was piqued, and I looked into training in this field. 

Helen:  What attracted you about acupuncture as a career?

Darren:  It was seeing the difference acupuncture could make in people’s lives; I realised that I wanted to be able to do this for others.  I was also attracted by this being a holistic approach to health, and that as an acupuncturist, I would be looking to find the root cause of the patient’s presenting complaint, and to make a difference to their long-term health, rather than just a “sticking plaster” approach of short-term, or localised symptomatic benefit.

Now that I am working in this field, it is enjoyable work, and is rewarding to be able to help people back to better heath.  It can give you a buzz when you are part of seeing those changes and outcomes for patients.

Helen:  What does training in acupuncture entail?

Darren:  It is a three-year, degree-level course, and in order to be a member of the British Acupuncture Council, it must be BAAB (British Acupuncture Accreditation Board) accredited and entail at least 3,600 hours’ training.  My professional Licentiate training at The Acupuncture Academy in Leamington Spa (BAAB accredited) was centred on the traditional Five Element model of Chinese medicine theory, together with anatomy, physiology, with particular emphasis on surface anatomy for point location.

There were modules on Western Medical view of the body’s organs and systems so that we can spot red flag symptoms, and refer and treat appropriately.  From a practical perspective, there was needle technique, point selection, and practical work in clinic.  At least 400 hours are in the clinical setting, including treatment observations; of which 200 hours’ direct clinical work with our own patients.     

I treated my pre-qualification supervised patients and my clinical assessments here at the clinic, under the mentorship and supervision of Philip Rose-Neil; having carried out my observations in his clinic.  I was good to have such an experienced mentor as a sounding board, and to continue to be part of the same team [Phil has been at Shaftesbury Clinic over 11 years].

Helen:  What is a typical day like for you in clinic?

Darren:  As an acupuncturist you train as a generalist, which means I could be seeing patients from for many different presenting reasons.  Patients very often access acupuncture for painful conditions such as back pain or migraine, but it can also be for chronic conditions such as eczema, sinusitis, and even seasonally for hay fever.  Acupuncture is also known to support general wellbeing, relaxation and balance, and for these reasons people will also access it for stress, anxiety and related issues in their busy lives.

Needles are used to stimulate acupuncture points, which are chosen in relation to the presenting issues for each patient.  I may also use Moxibustion (an acupuncture technique used to gently heat acupoints), Cupping, or Gua Sha, which are all acupuncture techniques used for specific situations, such as muscular and stagnation issues.  The treatment plan is tailored to each patient.

As an acupuncturist, I see people from all walks of life, and approaches each patient as an individual, considering all aspects of their health and context within the treatment model, so no two days are the same. 

Helen:  Do you have any special interests within acupuncture practise, or patient groups that you work with specifically?

Darren:  Having recently qualified, I have some areas where I have professional interests where I am planning to attend further training courses.  Of these, I have a continued interest in sport from my previous work in PR, and am attending a Musculoskeletal acupuncture training course in November, which will give in-depth experience in MSK issues and their treatment, including sports injuries.  I have an interest in acupuncture for fertility and pregnancy, and am looking to train further in this in the Spring, alongside Facial Acupuncture later next year.

Helen:  What are your interests outside of acupuncture?

Darren: I really like watching sport, particularly to watch it live; this was a part of my previous work that I enjoyed a great deal.  I love to go cycling, which is something I’ve been able to get back into recently, after a hiatus when I spent a lot of time of travelling to college (Leamington Spa), studying at home, and getting my clinical hours in.  I will cycle anywhere, the roads in Bedfordshire a pretty good for it, and it is quite helpful that it’s not too hilly!

At home, I love to cook, I will make all sorts of different things, and again after qualifying from college, it is great to be able to find the time to do this again.

Having previously lived in London for work, and moved this way for quality of life, I do like to be able to go back into London for leisure.

Helen:  How can prospective patient find out more about acupuncture, and book in with you?

Darren:  The clinic offers a free 15 minute call back from one of us acupuncturists, to help a you find out about acupuncture, and whether it could be suitable and helpful for your needs.  This gives a realistic appraisal of what we can offer, so you can decide whether this is the approach for you.  I’m available for bookings on Wednesday evenings from 5:30pm to 8pm, and Fridays 9:30am to 6pm.  You can call the secretaries on 01234 511522, or book online via our website. 

My colleague Louise England works on Tuesdays; Gillie Salter on Mondays; and Philip Rose-Neil Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  We are always really happy to chat about what we do

Helen:  Thank you for talking to me about your work today, Darren!
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Mechanisms of action – Acupuncture and neurotransmitters in the body

We know from research that acupuncture affects many bodily systems, so here we shall take a look at the nervous system and its chemical messengers: neurotransmitters.

In simple terms, a neurotransmitter is a chemical substance released at the end of a nerve fibre, which diffuses across a synapse (junction between nerves), and transmits the signal along to a nerve fibre or muscle fibre, for example.

This process is involved in the transmission of pain signals in the body, and is also one of the well-understood mechanisms of acupuncture pain relief. The role of acupuncture in modulating neurotransmitters involved in pain has been well discussed, as well as researched in great detail.

Specific neurotransmitters, and acupuncture’s effect on them:

Model of a brain and nerve cell

Zhang et al (2022) give the research on those in turn; opioid peptides; γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA); Norepinephrine; 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) aka serotonin; and glutamate.  

The researchers look in detail about what acupuncture research has shown in terms of mechanisms of action for each neurotransmitter, and to summarise:

  • Endogenous opioid peptides (a type of neurotransmitter) are produced in the body as a direct result of acupuncture treatment. These have been shown in numerous studies to have a positive effect on analgesia (pain relief).  By name, these are enkephalins, endomorphins, dynorphins, and nociceptin, and they are the body’s own natural painkilling substances
  • γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA); this is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.  It has a painkilling effect. It has been demonstrated through research studies that acupuncture can upregulate GABA expression; another part of how acupuncture helps with pain
  • Norepinephrine (noradrenalin in the UK); another neurotransmitter, the release of which is enhanced by acupuncture. Norepinephrine is also capable of inhibiting pain in the body
  • 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), or serotonin; is a neurotransmitter that is involved in analgesia (pain relief).  5-HT is secreted in the brain during acupuncture administration, making it another known mechanism of action for acupuncture analgesia
  • Glutamate; a central nervous system neurotransmitter, is involved in the transmission of pain signals in the spinal cord.  Acupuncture downregulates glutamate, as part of how it provides pain relief

Overall a combination of demonstratable mechanisms is clearly at play, and can be seen and measured to be the cause of why acupuncture can help pain. 

How were the studies done?

Research models

Studies on mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia are based on animal models, where levels of neurotransmitters and their effects are measured objectively, removing the possibility of placebo effect as a cause of pain relief. 

Human trials are also used where this is measurable in an ethical and objective way, through fMRI (brain scans showing which areas light up), and blood levels of neurotransmitters as well as pain ratings.

A complicated picture

There are other analgesic mechanisms of acupuncture besides those above, and it is hard to unpick the overall contributions of each, and it may be the case that it depends upon the region targeted, quality of pain and other factors.  For this reason, the acupuncturist’s experience and overall assessment of the individual on the day of treatment contribute to the overall outcome.


Zhang, M., Shi, L., Deng, S., Sang, B., Chen, J., Zhuo, B., Qin, C., Lyu, Y., Liu, C., Zhang, J. and Meng, Z., 2022. Effective oriental magic for analgesia: acupuncture. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2022. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2022/1451342/


Li, S.K., Liao, W.D., Zhao, J. and Cao, X.W., 2020. Effects of acupuncture on plasma endogenous opioid peptides in patients with stroke-associated headache in convalescence. Zhen ci yan jiu= Acupuncture Research45(12), pp.995-999.

Lin, J.G., Kotha, P. and Chen, Y.H., 2022. Understandings of acupuncture application and mechanisms. American Journal of Translational Research14(3), p.1469.

Petti, F.., Bangrazi, A., Liguori, A., Reale, G. and Ippoliti, F., 1998. Effects of acupuncture on immune response related to opioid-like peptides. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 18(1), pp.55-63.

Trento, M.M.S., Moré, A.O.O., Duarte, E.C.W. and Martins, D.F., 2021. Peripheral receptors and neuromediators involved in the antihyperalgesic effects of acupuncture: a state-of-the-art review. Pflügers Archiv-European Journal of Physiology473(4), pp.573-593.

Wang, W.S., Xi, H.Y., Fu, G., Fan, X.Z. and Guo, M., 2022. Study on the Mechanism of Electroacupuncture in the Treatment of Neuropathic Pain Based on Vesicular Glutamate Transporter 2/Toll Like Receptor 4 Signal Pathway. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, pp.31-37.

Wu, W.Z., Zheng, S.Y., Liu, C.Y., Qin, S., Wang, X.Q., Hu, J.L., Wan, Q.Y., Zhao, Y.N. and Xi, H.Q., 2021. Effect of Tongdu Tiaoshen acupuncture on serum GABA and CORT levels in patients with chronic insomnia. Zhongguo Zhen jiu= Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion41(7), pp.721-724.

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Electro Acupuncture

Electro acupuncture (EA) is an adjunct of acupuncture practise where a small electrical current is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles.  There is usually a slight sensation of buzzing or vibration associated with the electrical pulses, but the procedure is relatively pain free.

EA is a safe and effective form of therapy, which studies and systematic reviews, have shown may benefit patients for the symptoms of a wide range of conditions, in particular:

  • Nausea prevention: post chemotherapy (Zhang et al, 2014); post surgery (Ho et al, 1990); in hyperemesis gravidarum (severe “morning sickness” of pregnancy) (Ezzo et al, 2006);
  • Pain: symptomatic knee pain in rheumatoid arthritis (Casimiro et al 2005); post-operative pain and other recovery benefits post-operatively (Hayhoe, 2010, Lin et al, 2002); labour pain (Qu et al, 2007); low back pain; fibromyalgia (Delize et al. 1992); nerve pain, inflammatory pain and organ pain (Zhang et al, 2014)
  • Dental pain (Tavares et al 2007; Sim et al 2002)
  • Urinary retention after spinal injury (Liu et al 2011); urinary stress incontinence (Zhishun et al, 2017)
  • Tension-type headache (Xue et al, 2004); reducing the frequency of migraine (Xu et al, 2018)
  • Tennis elbow (Yeung et al, 2003); calcific tendonitis (Papadopoulos et al, 2019); achilles tendonitis (Yu et al, 2015)

The acupuncturist may use EA alongside other acupuncture techniques where it is indicated.


Casimiro, L., Barnsley, L., Brosseau, L., Milne, S., Welch, V., Tugwell, P. and Wells, G.A., 2005. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (4).

Deluze, C., Bosia, L., Zirbs, A., Chantraine, A. and Vischer, T.L., 1992. Electroacupuncture in fibromyalgia: results of a controlled trial. British Medical Journal305(6864), pp.1249-1252.

Ezzo, J., Streitberger, K. and Schneider, A., 2006. Cochrane systematic reviews examine P6 acupuncture-point stimulation for nausea and vomiting. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine12(5), pp.489-495.

Hayhoe, S., 2010. Postoperative benefits with electroacupuncture. Acupuncture in Medicine28(2), p.64.

Ho, R.T., Jawan, B., Fung, S.T., Cheung, H.K. and Lee, J.H., 1990. Electro‐acupuncture and postoperative emesis. Anaesthesia45(4), pp.327-329.

Lin, J.G., Lo, M.W., Wen, Y.R., Hsieh, C.L., Tsai, S.K. and Sun, W.Z., 2002. The effect of high and low frequency electroacupuncture in pain after lower abdominal surgery. Pain99(3), pp.509-514.

Liu, Z., Liu, Y., Xu, H., He, L., Chen, Y., Fu, L., Li, N., Lu, Y., Su, T., Sun, J. and Wang, J., 2017. Effect of electroacupuncture on urinary leakage among women with stress urinary incontinence: a randomized clinical trial. Jama317(24), pp.2493-2501.

Liu, Z., Zhou, K., Wang, Y. and Pan, Y., 2011. Electroacupuncture improves voiding function in patients with neurogenic urinary retention secondary to cauda equina injury: results from a prospective observational study. Acupuncture in Medicine29(3), pp.188-192.

Papadopoulos, D.V., Koulouvaris, P., Aggelidakis, G., Tsantes, A.G., Mavrodontidis, A. and Papadopoulos, G., 2019. Electroacupuncture for the treatment of supraspinatus calcific tendonitis. Journal of clinical orthopaedics and trauma10(3), pp.624-628.

Qu, F. and Zhou, J., 2007. Electro-acupuncture in relieving labor pain. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine4.

Sim, C.K., Xu, P.C., Pua, H.L., Zhang, G. and Lee, T.L., 2002. Effects of electroacupuncture on intraoperative and postoperative analgesic requirement. Acupuncture in Medicine20(2-3), pp.56-65.

Tavares, M.G., Machado, A.P., Motta, B.G., Borsatto, M.C., Rosa, A.L. and Xavier, S.P., 2007. Electro-acupuncture efficacy on pain control after mandibular third molar surgery. Brazilian Dental Journal18(2), pp.158-162.

Xu, J., Zhang, F.Q., Pei, J. and Ji, J., 2018. Acupuncture for migraine without aura: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine16(5), pp.312-321.

Xue, C.C., MApplSc, L.D., Polus, B., English, R.A., Zheng, Z. and Costa, C.D., 2004. Distal point electroacupuncture for tension-type headache (n= 40). Acupuncture in Medicine22(2), pp.103-115.)

Yeung, C.K., Leung, M.C. and Chow, D.H., 2003. The use of electro-acupuncture in conjunction with exercise for the treatment of chronic low-back pain. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 9(4), pp.479-490.

YU, H.L. and XU, L.L., 2015. Therapeutic effect of electro-acupuncture in the treatment of Achilles tendonitis. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion25(2), pp.17-22.

Zhang, R, Lao, L; Ren, K; Berman, BM (2014) Mechanisms of Acupuncture–Electroacupuncture on Persistent Pain Anesthesiology 2014; 120:482-503

Zhang, X., Jin, H.F., Fan, Y.H., Lu, B., Meng, L.N. and Chen, J.D., 2014. Effects and mechanisms of transcutaneous electroacupuncture on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2014.

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Robot and Human Hands

Acupuncture and AI?

New Research Paper: Here is an interesting concept for future development in acupuncture: “Artificial intelligence-directed acupuncture: a review”, in the Journal of Chinese Medicine.

How might this work? Wang (2022) and colleagues say that using computing, our ability to quantify, objectify and standardise acupuncture can be increased. Not only this, but using AI perhaps the research and outcomes from published data can be used to identify the best approaches, and even predict treatment outcomes.

It’s worth keeping in mind that from the acupuncturist’s perspective (an usually that of the patient, too), a large part of the appeal of acupuncture as a complementary medicine is that the patient is considered as an individual, and that even for the same condition, the treatment plan can vary from patient to patient as it is tailored to their need, therefore full standardisation is perhaps not the goal here, but more of a case of defining approaches and benefitting from looking at the data in novel ways.

The researchers do say that “The use of AI-based data mining has led to the discovery of hidden knowledge on acupuncture point selection and prescription.” As with any field where there is complexity, it is good to have alternative approaches and paths to choose from, and as practitioners, evidence-led there is always a combination of training and experience, alongside the updates and research insights that come through from the increasing research body.

At the moment the research is focussing on AI for common conditions that have large bodies of data and research for them, e.g. Osteoarthritis of the knee and dysmenorhhoea, and looking at particular pairs and combinations of points that arise in numerous studies.

Other uses for AI to analyse the research and effectiveness have been in the manipulation of needles, which has very many possible forms, including electroacupuncture as an adjunct.

An interesting area, which promises to deliver much insight in the coming years.

If you’d like to look into it more, a few other resources are below, including recent papers from Wang et al (2021), who predict more unified guidelines for specific TCM syndromes to come forth from AI-assisted TCM therapies in the future. Feng et al (2021) also weigh in on the ability to over come subjectivity by using AI; and Alice et al (2021) look into its application to pulse diagnosis in TCM.


Feng, C., Shao, Y., Wang, B., Qu, Y., Wang, Q., Li, Y. and Yang, T., 2021. Development and application of artificial intelligence in auxiliary tcm diagnosis. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2021.

Feng, C., Shao, Y., Wang, B., Qu, Y., Wang, Q., Li, Y. and Yang, T., 2021. Development and application of artificial intelligence in auxiliary tcm diagnosis. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2021.

Wang, Y., Shi, X., Efferth, T. and Shang, D., 2022. Artificial intelligence-directed acupuncture: a review. Chinese Medicine, 17(1), pp.1-10.

Wang, Y., Shi, X., Li, L., Efferth, T. and Shang, D., 2021. The impact of artificial intelligence on traditional Chinese medicine. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine49(06), pp.1297-1314.

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Question Marks

Will acupuncture help me?

Many people ask us as acupuncturists: “What is acupuncture for?  Will it help me?”

There is not a specific list of conditions acupuncture can “treat”, but it can be used safely by the vast majority of patient groups, including during pregnancy, as there are very few contraindications. 

Our Condition Resources Pages provide links to evidence-based factsheets, based on the most commonly requested reasons for attending acupuncture.

A huge number of clinical guidelines now recommend/suggest acupuncture as an approach; most commonly for musculoskeletal, connective tissue, neurological, obstetrics & gynaecology, women’s health, oncology and gastrointestinal issues. (Zhang & al 2022a)

Acupuncture needles in a patient’s back

It is good to read around the research into the symptom or condition you’re looking to address, the factsheets, links and references here on our condition pages are a good place to start, enabling you to find and appraise the original research papers.


Acupuncture is well-known for use in pain, and is recommended in many countries’ national health services. The NHS body in charge of which treatments should be used in particular conditions recommends acupuncture for chronic pain:  The NICE Scenario Management guidelines (2021) for chronic pain state: “consider a course of acupuncture or dry needling, within a traditional Chinese or Western acupuncture system”. In America, per the US government’s National Institutes of Health: “Clinical practice guidelines issued by the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians in 2007 recommend acupuncture as one of several nondrug approaches physicians should consider when patients with chronic low-back pain do not respond to self-care (practices that people can do by themselves, such as remaining active, applying heat, and taking pain-relieving medications).”

Popularity with the public, and uptake by insurers

Acupuncture is popular and well established. Per the WHO (2019) global report, acupuncture is widely used across the world, and in the UK, clinicians administer over 4 million acupuncture treatments each year (Zhang et al, 2022b).

Per He et al (2022) in the BMJ “Acupuncture has been incorporated into the health insurance policies of several countries. Studies have indicated that there have been many recommendations for the use of acupuncture in many clinical practice guidelines published worldwide. Both the number of guidelines recommending acupuncture and the number of acupuncture randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are increasing”

Find Out More

Shaftesbury Clinic provides a free 15 minute consultation (in person, videocall or phone call – all need to be pre-booked). This will enable you to weigh up the research, and aid in your decision about acupuncture as a possible complement to medical treatment

The British Acupuncture Council also has a number of resources for you to take a look at, including a 30-minute documentary about acupuncture

Important to know: Chronic health conditions should be addressed under direct medical supervision of your GP or consultant, and acupuncture would be an adjunct complement to usual care – it’s advisable to let your doctor know when you use this approach.


He, Y., Li, J., Li, Y., Jin, R., Wen, Q., Li, N. and Zhang, Y., 2022. Strengthening the quality of clinical trials of acupuncture: a guideline protocol. BMJ open, 12(1), p.e053312. LINK: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/12/1/e053312 )

NICE (2021) Chronic pain: Scenario: Management Last revised in April 2021

NIH (2022) https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture-in-depth.

Zhang, Y.Q., Lu, L., Xu, N., Tang, X., Shi, X., Carrasco-Labra, A., Schünemann, H., Chen, Y., Xia, J., Chen, G. and Liu, J., 2022a. Increasing the usefulness of acupuncture guideline recommendations. bmj376. https://bmj.com/content/376/bmj-2022-070533.full

Zhang, Y.Q., Jing, X. and Guyatt, G., 2022b. Improving acupuncture research: progress, guidance, and future directions. BMJ, 376. https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj.o487

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New Research : Acupuncture Tapping in Psychotherapy

A new research article looks at acupuncture points and psychotherapy in practise. The interesting new article in the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, discusses the use of acupuncture points within psychotherapy (the reference, and links to original article are below).

A holistic approach is increasingly being understood to include more that one modality to increase how effective an approach can be. This is well known for crossing the borders between, say mainstream medicine in areas like pain, but possible less so in the sphere of mental health, despite the fat that acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) have long included protocols for health on all levels of mind and body.

Traditional acupuncture uses needle stimulation on a network of specific points, tailored to the patient and presenting condition. In addition to, or instead of needles, acupuncturists can also use heat or acupressure (needle-less stimulation of points).

Tapping of a specific set of points in a protocol, is a fairly ew approach to self-care when experiencing anxiety or pain symptoms, for example. This can be done when the patient has been trained on how to do this, and increasingly this has been adopted in other settings. Today, other techniques incorporate some of the benefits of acupuncture alongside talking therapies, and there is a decent and growing research body here.

Per this research article Feinstein (2022 – ref and link below) the research and use of this are coming to the fore; there are “28 systematic reviews and meta-analyses, 125 clinical trials, 24 case studies, 26 reports describing systematic observations, 17 mixed-method clinical trials that included a tapping component, and 88 articles addressing clinical procedures, theory, mechanisms, or related issues” (Feinstein, 2022).

Sometimes called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), this shows the way in which cross-modality approaches can be applicable to real life cases. The acupuncture component of this has indeed been shown to be an active part of EFT (Church et al, 2018).

The overall outcome from looking at the state of research into the integration into psychotherapy of using tapping of acupuncture points is promising, and that the growing evidence base documents the effectiveness, speed, and durability of the approach.


Church, D., Stapleton, P., Yang, A. and Gallo, F., 2018. Is tapping on acupuncture points an active ingredient in Emotional Freedom Techniques? A systematic review and meta-analysis of comparative studies. The Journal of nervous and mental disease206(10), pp.783-793.

Feinstein, D., 2022. Integrating the manual stimulation of acupuncture points into psychotherapy: A systematic review with clinical recommendations. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2022-61876-001

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An interview with Gillie Salter, Acupuncturist at Shaftesbury Clinic

Gillie Salter joined the team at Shaftesbury Clinic in March 2022.   Helen caught up with her for a chat to find out what brought her to acupuncture; the types of clients she works with; and what inspires her in her work…

Fact File:

    • ☼  Gillie graduated from the Acupuncture Academy (Leamington Spa) in December 2020 after 3 years’ degree level training, with a distinction in the Professional Licentiate in Acupuncture
    • ☼  She is a member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), the UK’s leading Regulatory Body for traditional acupuncture, and the largest, with over 2,500 members.
    • ☼  BAcC members must have at least 3,600 hours’ degree-level training; 400 or more of which in a clinical setting
    • ☼  The BACC is regulated by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which is accountable to the UK Parliament

Helen:  What was your work background before acupuncture?

Gillie:  My background is in nursing, having worked as a district nurse, where I really enjoyed the work, in particular meeting and looking after people from all different backgrounds.  Later on, I studied further, gaining a Masters degree in Medical Anthropology.

Helen:  For people who haven’t come cross it before, can you tell us a bit more about medical anthropology?

Gillie:  Anthropology in general looks at what makes us human, how people live, and is a holistic approach, with medical anthropology specifically looking at how the practise of medicine, and health and wellbeing are understood and approached in different cultures and settings. For my dissertation, I used Ethnography, which is a systematic way to study cultural phenomena, within an elderly day care setting.

Acupuncture Pulse Taking

Helen:  What led you from nursing and medical anthropology, toward acupuncture?

GIllie:  After having my two children, the logistics of going back into nursing just weren’t practical, so I took on other roles including as a teaching assistant, and volunteer work, before combining my experience and interest to study acupuncture.  I had looked into acupuncture and became certain that it was for me, after attending an open day at the TAA college in Leamington Spa, which inspired and impressed me.

Helen:  What do you value about acupuncture that sets it apart from other approaches?

Gillie:  It is the cultural aspect of the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) approach that appeals to me, looking at the whole person within the treatment approach, in contrast to the Biomedicine (Western, allopathic) approach which works from viewing the mind and the body as being separate from each other.

Helen:  Do you have any special interests within acupuncture practise, or patient groups that you work with specifically?

Gillie:  I enjoy all aspects of the variety that comes my way, as acupuncture can contribute so much to many different people, for their concerns and conditions.  I treat all ages, including children.

Acupuncture needle in situHelen:  How can someone interested in acupuncture find out more, and book in with you?

Gillie:  Myself, and the other acupuncturists at Shaftesbury Clinic, offer a free 15 minute phone call, video chat or in-person consultation for a prospective patient to speak to one of us, and ask any questions they have about acupuncture.

This way, they can be given the information they need, and a realistic appraisal of what we can offer, so they can decide whether this is the approach for them.

There are a few ways to book:  There’s a link here on the website to book in for a 15 minute chat, or for a treatment; alternatively they could ring the clinic direct to book on 01234 511522; or send the clinic an email, or contact form from the website.

Helen: Finally, when are you available to see patients in Bedford, Gillie?

Gillie:  I work Mondays at Shaftesbury Clinic (based at Bedford Consulting Rooms).  My colleague Phil Rose-Neil works Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; Louise England on Tuesdays, and Darren Haines on Wednesday evenings and Fridays.

Helen:  Thank you for talking to me about your work today, Gillie!

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