This month ACE sits down with Leslie Murphy, L.Ac. Leslie is passionate, dedicated acupuncturist whose own experience with chronic pain relief with acupuncture treatment led her to pursue her career. She specializes in healing physical pain, emotional stress, and helping her patients reclaim a decent night’s sleep. She is a licensed acupuncturist with the Massachusetts Board and the NCCAOM, and is certified in auricular acupuncture and Tong Ren Therapy. Additionally, her practice offers phototherapy, acupressure guide, a 21 day reset, and more!
Through these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Leslie talks about how she is dealing with the unexpected need to social distance while continuing to help her patients, and maintain daily life as an acupuncturist & mom. To learn more about Leslie, check out her interview below.
Welcome Leslie Murphy! Thanks for taking the time to sit with us for
Acupuncturist of the Month!
So, how long have you been practicing acupuncture for, and what are your specialties?
I’ve been practicing acupuncture for over 10 years. Although I see patients with a wide range of conditions, I predominately treat pain conditions, stress and anxiety and provide immune system support.
What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?
Like many it was a personal experience with acupuncture that inspired me to switch careers. I had my first acupuncture treatment in college and became fascinated that it was a form of medicine that took into account the whole body and which really treated the individual based on their specific symptoms and presentation. It wasn’t until I suffered from a chronic pain issue later in life however that I decided to pursue it as a profession.
I was working a desk job and basically developed repetitive strain in my forearms that made typing on a computer, driving, even brushing my hair extremely difficult and painful. Workers compensation was a nightmare and western medical doctors either suggested surgery for no known cause or referred me to physical therapy. It wasn’t until I started a course of acupuncture that I eventually felt like I got my life back. So, having always been in awe of the medicine and seeing first-hand what it could do for me I decided to pursue it as a career. I always say that I’m actually quite grateful for that period in my life because I wouldn’t have changed career paths if I hadn’t had that struggle!
We notice you are offering a 21 Day Reset Program for patients on your website, this looks really interesting! Tell us a little bit more about it, and why patients and other providers should consider partaking.
The 21 Day RESET is a program people can use at home to reset their health from the inside out. It centers on the use of phototherapy patches along with guided coaching via email to help people safely detox and support their immune system, reduce inflammation and stress and strengthen their digestion and metabolism. It’s free other than the cost of the phototherapy patches which are shipped directly to the participant.
Patients love it because it’s simple, easy and effective. All they have to do is place three, quarter size patches on specific acupuncture points each day and let them do the work. Patches are worn for 24 hours and then replaced with a new patch. The patches themselves contain no medication or chemicals but reflect back the body’s own infrared light to stimulate change at the cellular level.
I first developed the 21 Day Reset at the start of the new year as a program that also incorporated weekly acupuncture treatments in my office. Once COVID-19 hit, I moved the program online (without the acupuncture) so that patients could benefit from these health changes while at home practicing social distancing. I think COVID-19 has also put a spotlight on how factors that create inflammation in the body, such as the standard western diet, stress and environmental toxins, can have a real impact on how well our bodies can fight off and recover from illness. This program gives patients a great starting point to really improve these vital areas in their overall health.
Any practitioner or patient is welcome to join the program. If practitioners are new to phototherapy or are looking into new treatment options they can offer their patients in office or at home, this program would be a great introduction to using phototherapy patches. I also have a free introductory course on phototherapy on my web site to learn more about this therapy and the science behind it.
On your journey to become an acupuncturist, what obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Once I decided to go to acupuncture school, I knew it was the right decision for me even though I was still struggling with my chronic pain issue and unsure if I would even be able take notes in class. Of course I had people who thought I was completely crazy and to some extent I still face people unsure of what I do, but it’s about staying confident with what I always knew in my gut that this was the path I was meant to be on.
Share a recent success story you had with a patient. What acupuncture points, herbs, or other interventions (meditation, yoga, nutrition, etc) did you use to help them achieve results?
I treated a dental hygienist who had been dealing with a debilitating repetitive strain injury affecting her right shoulder and scapula area. The pain was so intense she said it was almost impossible to do her job. Prior to seeing me, her primary care physician had prescribed muscle relaxants and physical therapy but she didn’t get any relief.
I used LI4, LV3, GB21 and ashi points in the muscle knots near her scapula among other points as well as cupping. She was so amazed that her pain disappeared after a few visits. She is now one of my biggest fans and talks up acupuncture to everyone in her office and to her patients. She’s a great referral source!
What is one thing about acupuncture & oriental medicine, that to this day, still amazes you?
I’m amazed that it works no matter a person’s style of treatment. I studied TCM and Japanese acupuncture, which have different methods for diagnosing and treatment techniques but both styles work! Every practitioner has his or her own style of treatment as well and the adjunctive techniques that they gravitate to and it all works, which is an amazing thing about this medicine.
Looking back, what advice would you have given to the younger version of yourself, who was just getting started in this profession?
Hmmm. Good question. I really just jumped into starting my own private practice and didn’t overthink things which I think looking back on was the way to go.
Running a practice is not a simple or easy task – what do you feel was the biggest challenge in getting your practice up and running?
I think the biggest challenge may have been finding the right office space. I was looking for two rooms in a quiet location not far from my house at an affordable price. It’s not always easy to find the perfect match right away. I ended up starting in one location but then as I figured out more of what I wanted and networked I later ended up moving to a location that best suited my needs.
What has been the most rewarding moment so far in your career as an acupuncturist?
It’s hard to pick just one. Overall, I think it’s hearing the relief and utter amazement from patients when they are almost overcome to tears that they are no longer in pain after years of struggle.
We have all occasionally had a patient come into our practice who is upset, frustrated, and a little angry. Maybe it’s from work, being stuck in traffic, or life in general – we have all been there! What advice would you give to fellow acupuncture students and/or colleagues on how to deal with situations like these?
The best advice for dealing with any patient who comes in angered, frustrated, upset, hurt, etc. is to just listen. People just want to be heard so providing a listening ear is the best way to help these patients and to deal with these situations.
What are your favorite acupuncture points, and why?
I always say that Liver 3 is my favorite point. I just think everyone can benefit from it because it is such a grounding point and a wonderful stress reliever!
Sometimes, the best resource for improving our skills is by learning from the other acupuncturists we meet along our professional journey. What is one thing you learned from a fellow acupuncturist or holistic practitioner, that has helped you in your professional growth, or in your care for patients?
I learned about phototherapy patches from Robin Ray Green, a fellow acupuncturist. I’m so grateful because phototherapy gives me another way to help my patients continue their healing progress between acupuncture appointments in a way that does not include medication or chemicals. So many of my patients seek acupuncture because they are tired of popping pills so phototherapy has been a great way to enhance my acupuncture treatments that people can use at home.
What are your thoughts on getting an “acupuncturist mentor”?
I think having an acupuncture mentor is a fantastic idea and perfect for anyone no matter how many years into practice they are. It’s a question of finding the right fit, plus people are just so busy these days which might prove difficult in finding someone willing to mentor you. I’m now at a point where I’d love to join a mastermind type group of like-minded health practitioners to discuss business building practices as that is a never-ending part of private practice.
The COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt had a significant impact on the acupuncture practice community and small businesses alike. How have you been handling the COVID-19 situation as an acupuncture practice owner and individual? What advice or wisdom would you like to share with other acupuncturists who are also navigating through these sensitive times?
I temporarily closed my practice given the social distancing mandate from our Governor’s office, plus I felt it was the right thing to do from a public health perspective at large to control the spread and prevent a collapse of our hospital infrastructure. I was admittedly a bit frazzled at the beginning trying to set up systems for my patients to continue their care at home with telehealth consults and my 21 Day RESET program while also juggling homeschooling for my kids, and just learning what I could about this pandemic, etc. It was a lot and continues to be a lot to juggle even now considering what needs to be in place to reopen.
For me personally, it’s been trying to give myself moments to reflect, process and plan and simply just go through all the emotions. I try and pass on tips I’m using to my patients through frequent communications with email or Facebook. Everyone’s processing this unprecedented time in their own way and at their own timing so it’s about having grace with ourselves and reiterating the importance of self-care.
Do you have any daily habits or rituals that keep you at your “best self”, both as an acupuncture practitioner and person?
I try and practice gratitude every day in some form. Either playing the “thankful game” with my kids or just simply listing all the moments I was grateful for in my day before I go to sleep. I also am a voracious reader, rarely watching TV, and that gives my mind a bit of an escape each day. I also really limit time on social media and rarely check the news which I would consider important self-care for myself.
The kindest thing a patient said to you recently:
“You are a life saver. You have changed my life.”
The funniest thing a patient said to you recently:
Wish I could remember…
As an acupuncturist, what are you most proud of thus far in your professional journey?
Probably that I’m still in practice and loving it! I’m grateful for all of the patients who have let me into their lives to assist them on their health journey.
If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be and why?
“Love One Another” If we all put love first, the world would be a happier, healthier place.
What is your definition of success?
My definition changes a lot or I don’t think I have just one. Sometimes it’s feeling fulfilled. Other times success is simply seeing my kids healthy and happy.
If you had to choose a spirit animal, what would it be and why?
I’d choose the bear although maybe it has chosen me. It’s a powerful totem of strength and physical and emotional healing.
Where can other licensed acupuncturists, students, and patients go to learn more about your work?
Feel free to visit me at my web site: https://www.balancedhealthacu.com/
To learn more about the 21 Day RESET: https://www.balancedhealthacu.com/21-day-reset-program
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