• Alexis Hileman L.Ac.

Differences between Acupuncture and Community Style Acupuncture

Acupuncture vs. Community Style

There are some major differences between acupuncture and community style acupuncture. It’s important to know the differences so you know which type is best for you based on your personal preferences and needs. I have worked in both a community style clinic and private clinic, so my views on this subject are based on my experiences. Keep in mind, every clinic is run a little differently. Feel free to contact a clinic and ask them about their specific procedures/set-up prior to your treatment to make sure it’s a good fit for your needs.

Private Acupuncture Session

When going to a private acupuncture session you can expect to be in a room by yourself and have complete privacy during your intake with the practitioner and during your treatment. You will be treated on a massage table, and if necessary, asked to change into a treatment gown for the acupuncturist to reach certain points, which are usually located on the back or neck. It's a personal and intimate experience that aids in the mental aspect of your treatment.

Just because a point can treat something, doesn’t mean it’s the best point for treatment.

Community Style Acupuncture Session

When going to a community style session, your treatment will be done in a large room with several other patients and practitioners. Treatments are usually done in a reclining chair. Sometimes there are privacy curtains, but not always and it is possible that your intake will take place in the main treatment room.

Even though intakes are usually conducted in quiet voices, it is still possible for others in the room to overhear your intake and/or medical concerns. All clothing remains on during your treatment, and needles can be placed in your arms, hands, legs, feet and head.

Things to take into consideration

Your Reason for Seeking Treatment DOES Matter

Most community style acupuncturists will say that community style treatments can treat anything using the points on the lower half of the appendages and the head. This is true to an extent. However, just because a point can treat something, doesn’t mean it’s the best point for treatment. I do not recommend going to a community style clinic for back pain, hip pain or sciatic pain (to name a few) because these situations require local needling at the site of pain to get the desired results in as few treatments as possible.

Additionally, other modalities are often used in conjunction with acupuncture to treat musculo-skeletal pain such as fire cupping, guasha, and electro-stimulation. If you are seeking care for arthritis in your hand, community style would be perfect because that area can easily be treated in a community style setting.


Private acupuncture sessions can cost anywhere from $50 - $90 for a session. Community style was created to provide a cheaper alternative for people who could otherwise not afford care, since insurance doesn’t always cover acupuncture. Community style can be on a sliding fee scale, or range anywhere from $20-$45 a treatment. If the cost is a concern for you, then community style acupuncture may be an option for you.


Privacy is the main difference between these two treatment styles. If privacy isn’t a concern for you and you can relax in an open room setting, then community style would likely fit your needs. Keep in mind that there is an emotional component to acupuncture treatments as well. It is not uncommon for people to have emotional releases during treatment.

This might play a factor in deciding if you are comfortable in being treated in a public setting or not.


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