Frequently Asked Questions

WTF? Are you all a bunch of communists?

No, not all of us are communists. We're a diverse group but what we have in common is:

  • a belief that acupuncture can make valuable contributions to modern society;

  • moral qualms about making a profit off of other people’s pain and suffering; and

  • a recognition that none of the previously existing schools of thought for acupuncture fully acknowledge or account for the social dimension of health and illness, and so a new school of thought is needed.

Why is there a red fist on your website, then?

The raised fist is a long-standing symbol of solidarity with oppressed peoples – first used in 1917 by the Industrial Workers of the World, an international labor union. Many different groups have used it. Liberation Acupuncture uses it to acknowledge that we would not exist without the Black Panthers' and Young Lords' example of incorporating acupuncture into social action and community health. The fist logo shows points on the Heart meridian to indicate Liberation Acupuncture’s relationship to acupuncture theory. In acupuncture theory, the color associated with the Heart is red.

What are liberation studies?

Liberation studies is a broad term that encompasses liberation psychology, liberation theology, liberation ecology and to some degree critical pedagogy which all share the goal of liberation from oppression. We believe that liberation acupuncture needs to exist for the same basic reasons that liberation psychology, liberation theology, and liberation ecology do: most importantly, social relevance.

What is the relationship of trauma informed acupuncture to liberation acupuncture?

Trauma informed acupuncture is a specific subset of liberation acupuncture. We believe that traumatic stress is so prevalent in our society that it functions as a reinforcement of structural violence: it dehumanizes people and undermines their ability to resist oppression, to imagine more just social arrangements, and to perceive their own dignity and value. Just as traumatic stress reinforces structural violence, trauma informed acupuncture seeks to reinforce in practice the ideals of liberation acupuncture.

Why do POCA acupuncturists call themselves punks?

The short answer is in this abstract for an article written for the Journal of Chinese Medicine, Making Buckets from Ming Vases:

Community acupuncture – as practiced by self-styled ‘acupunks’ – is a radically different vision and philosophy for the practice of acupuncture in the West. Patients are seen in a group setting, which allows for treatment to be conducted via a high-volume, low-cost sustainable business model. Spa settings and excessive Chinese medicine theory are unnecessary with such a model of treatment, as the needles do all the necessary work. This article describes the vision, aims and underlying philosophy of the community acupuncture movement.

To really understand the reasoning behind that statement read the entire article.

What is the relationship of community acupuncture to liberation acupuncture?

What we call the “community acupuncture model” is a self-sustaining economic and clinical model to make acupuncture accessible to working class communities. Liberation Acupuncture is a broader conceptual framework for acupuncture itself and it arose out of praxis that has included the use of the community acupuncture model, but also out of praxis that predates it, such as the work of the Black Panthers and the Young Lords. The use of the community acupuncture model may be, but is not necessarily, a subset of Liberation Acupuncture, depending on how it is implemented.

Photo courtesy of
Vanessa Tignanelli