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What to expect during your first acupuncture session

Acupuncture can seem a strange concept if you have never experienced it before. The word ‘needle’ may strike fear into some, but acupuncture needles are much, much smaller than the hypodermic syringe needle that you might be familiar with.

Many people relax so much that they have a nap on the couch. They often refer to their sessions as their weekly ‘pamper’ or ‘me time’.

Others have heard of a strange mystical therapy involving moving a Jedi-like force called Qi, with links to the hippyish yin and yang symbol… or the alchemy of bizarre Chinese herbal concoctions including weird plants with magical powers…

So you will be pleasantly surprised to read what to REALLY expect during your session at Upwey Acupuncture.

Before you come to the clinic

We ask you to fill out a patient registration form.

Please send me any relevant medical referrals or test results from your GP or other medical consultant.

Make sure that you have eaten something before arriving for your treatment. This is especially relevant if your appointment is in the morning and you are a ‘breakfast skipper’.

If you can, please wear or bring with you comfortable loose clothing to relax on the treatment couch.

During your first session

On arrival at the clinic, we will sit and talk through the main focus of your treatment.

I will take a full medical history from you. We will discuss all aspects of your current health and any issues that you have had in the past. I will check your pulses (on your wrist) and look at your tongue. I may ask if I can palpate (feel) an area relevant to your issue (eg. you come for shoulder pain, I palpate to see where it is).

We will clearly define what you hope to achieve from the treatment. From the detailed history that you give me, I will formulate a treatment plan and discuss this with you.

You will have an opportunity to ask any questions that you have prior to commencing the actual treatment.

I will explain to you what course of treatment I propose for the session prior to commencing it, including what to expect during and after the technique.

The treatment will be tailored to your unique constitution and condition. It may involve one or more of:

  • acupuncture
  • acupressure
  • massage
  • cupping
  • guasha
  • heat therapy
  • herbal medicine

I will explain each technique to you.

Once you are comfortable on the couch I will wash my hands, and we will commence with your treatment.

Some treatments may commence with massage, or cupping before needling. I constantly ask for your feedback during any technique to ensure that you feel safe and that the treatment feels good for you.


When I insert your needles you may feel a mild tingling sensation, or a dull ache, or sometimes a bit of an ‘electric fizzle’ sensation for a couple of seconds, then the sensation should disappear. Or you may not feel anything at all. I work with patients to make them feel as relaxed as possible during this phase of treatment, and I am gentle with my technique.


Once your needles are in you can (believe it or not) relax for around 15-30 minutes – depending on your constitution and condition.

During the relaxation phase, I will ensure that you are comfortable, and I may leave the room to let you relax. If I do so I will leave you with a buzzer to call me back in case you start to feel uncomfortable. However, most patients are extremely relaxed and often fall asleep during this phase of the session.

When needles are removed there is generally no sensation at all and most people get up from the couch feeling very relaxed and happy.
If herbal medicine is applicable for your case I will discuss this with you, and have your herbs and instructions ready for you at the completion of your session.

At the first treatment, I write up a treatment plan and will be able to tell you approximately how many treatments you are likely to need, and how often.

Very few issues are resolved within one acupuncture treatment. Most conditions require a course of treatment of varying degrees to resolve.

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