Looking East for Relief

May 12, 2015

When you first meet Erinn Terry, you tend to find yourself quickly relaxing. She has a calm, warm demeanor, and speaks softly and thoughtfully. She leans forward as you speak, exuding patience and tranquility, and genuinely reflects on what you’ve said. She’s good at listening, and that probably has a lot to do with the practice she’s had working with clients in the Clinic’s acupuncture program. Since 2005, Erinn has been our sole acupuncturist, first as a volunteer, and now as a member of our staff. Acupuncture is offered to clients on a sliding-scale fee, to make it affordable and accessible to as many as possible.

Like so many others, Erinn first came to the Clinic as a client herself. She was putting herself through school to become a licensed acupuncturist, and found herself without health insurance. Erinn learned that the Clinic had been managing an acupuncture externship pilot program with a local acupuncture school. The program brought acupuncture students to the Clinic to gain experience, and to provide low-cost or free services to Clinic clients. The program was popular, but was winding down to a close. So when Erinn learned this, she stepped up and offered her services. “First I was a massage therapist, and from there I started learning more about Chinese medical theory. It Erinn Terry, LAcwas a really natural progression from there the more I learned about natural healing modalities and alternative medicines. In 2005 I gained my license, and have been practicing acupuncture and volunteering at the Clinic ever since.”

Acupuncture dates back at least to the Ming dynasty in China, and has now spread through the world as a form of alternative medicine. It’s been shown to have a great impact particularly on women’s health issues and concerns. At the Clinic, clients have access to monthly acupuncture treatments, and are often referred by their clinician. Acupuncture is commonly used to treat PMS, cramps, and hormone imbalances, particularly for women experiencing menopause. Now that the Clinic offers Primary Care, many clients are also referred for treatment of migraines, chronic body pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. Besides improving physical health, acupuncture is often recommended for depression, insomnia, chronic stress and fatigue and other mental health concerns.

Clients might find themselves battling multiple concerns at once, which is where acupuncture can truly be a game changer. “The beauty of acupuncture is that it’s holistic. In one session we can, and often do, address many different symptoms at once. We can tailor the treatment to the individual, and all of the things their body and mind are experiencing.”

As a long time volunteer, Erinn has shown years of devotion and dedication to the uninsured, low-income, and Medi-Cal clients we serve. “Acupuncture is often rooted in low-income or working class communities. These treatments can be life changing and transformative for a client’s health and well-being, and for practitioners, the materials and supplies we need are inexpensive. I’m very motivated by this idea.”

And her clients have come from all walks of life. “I’ve met many clients that depend on this service – women who are homeless, who are cancer survivors, who are going through menopause and have instability in their lives. Receiving acupuncture is a way to calm their minds and bodies, and give them the one-on-one support and dedication all women deserve.”

The acupuncture program is set up so that clients can make recurring, monthly appointments with Erinn. “I frequently remind my clients that acupuncture is not necessarily a “quick fix”. You may feel immediate relief, but more often you need to be patient and notice the small and subtle changes that happen.” These changes include lifestyle changes, as she also reminds us. Chinese medicine is simple – take care of yourself, eat right, calm your mind and the rest will follow.”