By Donna Rasplica, Dr. TCM

Ear acupuncture can be used for anyone involved in a traumatic incident:

  • survivors
  • mental health staff
  • police and emergency personnel

This community-style of acupuncture is well suited to conditions faced in a disaster. We can set up almost anywhere and immediately treat large groups of people. No special facilities are needed and treatment is easily integrated into a wide range of settings – hospitals, outdoor clinics in disaster situations, on a curbside,while people are waiting in line for other services…

Treatments last 30 to 60 minutes and are given while people sit fully clothed in a chair. Under NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocols the needles are primarily inserted in the ear. The NADA protocol is an effective way to help people facing enormous stress, anger, frustration, depression, fatigue, and other emotional and physical pain. This protocol has been identified as being effective over a 30 year history and is used in over thousands of programs around the world.

The therapeutic effects happen quickly and can last a long time. Bessel van der Kolk, reknowned trauma expert, has shown that the emotional overload of traumatic experience can cause a blocking of verbal access and ability. These simple acupuncture treatments can have a calming and transformative effect without requiring the traumatized client to talk. They can be in an extreme state of dissociation and still benefit.

Done in groups, community-style acupuncture can help break the isolation often felt after traumatic events. Even those who resist traditional treatment for Acute Stress Disorder are often willing to receive acupuncture. Treatments support the rebuilding of strength and resiliency, essential for the recovery process.

Community-style acupuncture can provide immediate “treatment on demand” without lengthy intake or wait. Those receiving treatment do not have to wait to feel its impact, as relaxation generally occurs within minutes. Survivors of traumatic events report ‘acu detox’ to be useful in alleviating symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder. Recipient surveys show increased mental clarity, ability to cope, alertness. ability to sleep, and a reduction of aches, pains and muscle spasms, depression and anxiety, intrusive recall.

Ear acupuncture was used by St Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan following the events of 9/11 to reduce insomnia and offer stress relief to medical staff, city residents and emergency personnel. It is currently offered at all five New York City Firehouse counseling centers. It works well as an outreach tool to bridge emergency personnel and victims of trauma to other services as needed.

Many relief programs have incorporated ear acupuncture. Some have been:

Dakota reservations in the aftermath of a series of tornadoes
Honduras residents displaced after a hurricane Refugee camps in Burma
Refugees in the US suffering from PTSD