Getting the treatment you deserve
J.T. McVeigh/Photo Jeff McMackin and Corrina McFarlane of Blue Mountain Accupuncture are full members of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Ontario, two of the first practitioners in the region recognized by the college.
You get the sense when you walk into the Blue Mountain Acupuncture Clinic that this isn't your ordinary therapist's office.
From the trio of bronze statues by the front window to the rice paper-themed sliding doors, you are aware of the feeling of calmness.
Acupuncture has been in practice for thousands of years, but it has taken decades for Canadians to figure out what it does. First thought of as an alternate therapy, then as a complimentary practice, the province finally recognized an official college for practitioners in 2013.
The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO) is quite a mouthful, but it finally has helped bring the therapy into the mainstream.
"It's been a long haul, but to finally get this designation is a huge feather in the cap of traditional Chinese medicine," said Corrina McFarlane, who, with her husband Jeff McMackin opened their clinic a decade ago. "But one of things that happened was that acupuncture was removed from traditional chinese medicine because it is a whole health care system."
McFarlane received her training in the United States, while McMackin trained in China.
"Before it was like the Wild West, the truth is that before April 2013 when the college was recognized, someone with 25 hours of training in acupuncture was practicing and there was no regulation," said McMackin. "What this does now is protect the public."
Both McFarlane and McMackin have been accepted as full members by the college last summer making them the only practitioners in the region with the designation.
Why does that matter?
It recognizes their years of study, training and practice in the art as well as allowing clients the confidence in knowing that they are receiving proper care.
"Acupuncture in North America got yanked out of the traditional medicine umbrella and practised by other health care providers in various forms without the traditional chinese theory." said McFarlane.
Although known for its effectiveness in pain management, acupuncture is much more broad in scope.
McFarlane specializes in pain management and soft tissue dysfunction, while McMakin's focus is on internal medicine and neurological conditions.
"When Jeff studied in China he didn't do a lot of pain management but specialized in internal medicine, genealogical issues, IBS, Crone's, autoimmune or neurological diseases."
Clients are slowly getting to know the full scope of what an acupuncture practitioner though McFarlane admits separating the practice from traditional chinese medicine pushed pain management into the spotlight.
"It is a pretty broad spectrum of health care, people aren't aware that it is a whole system that's been around for 3,000 years." said McMackin, "It's also wonderful for mood disorders, wonderful for depression and anxiety. The great thing about it is that it is an innocuous therapy and it's painless, safe and effective for most patients."
The medical community has seen the benefits of acupuncture in their clients and the clinic enjoys a referral relationship with more than 20 physicians in the area.
The clinic has a very busy practice seeing more than 3,000 clients during their 11 years in Collingwood and a lot of that has to do with their relationship with the health care providers in Collingwood.
"The physicians in Collingwood are great, they are very progressive," said McMackin. "And really, there are a lot of really good health care providers in the area."
McMackin admits that their relationships with their clients is very much like a narrative.
"It's very much like the old style of doctoring, where we have an hour, we chit chat and we get to know the client." McMackin said, "We even have time for tea and biscuits."