Liver 13, Chapter Gate, is the assembling point of solid organs, a great place to begin as I launch a new chapter writing about Regional Groups. Liver gives us the power to plan and with its partner, the Gallbladder, enables vision and clarity in our lives. As a Five Element practitioner, my view of the world is shaped by this system of medicine and it informs much of what I do. As we understand it, everything is interconnected and relies on each part of the cycle playing its part within the whole in order for it to function effectively. I think it is the same with organisations, lots of separate parts but together they become a larger force.
Our organisation, the British Acupuncture Council, carries out many functions and has approximately 2,800 members spread widely across the UK and further afield. We are united in our training and our commitment to practise acupuncture to a high standard, to serve those who consult us. Yet some members feel that, although they belong, they don’t have a sense of connection with each other and one of the ways I think that can be rectified is by being part of a regional group, actually getting together with colleagues in local areas.
How it all began
I was trying to remember how the groups started and my recollection is that they probably emerged from point location groups that we all used to attend when we were training. If you were fortunate enough to have several other students nearby, you would meet frequently to practice marking up points and spend hours talking of your concerns about point exams. As there always seemed to be new students joining the group I was part of, I hosted them at the premises I was working in where I could use the room during the evenings. Plus, you can never have too much point location discussion, even when fully qualified!
There were events where acupuncturists would meet. I particularly recall travelling west in my 2CV with my friend and colleague, Alison Gould, to a meeting in Somerset held by Jane Robinson, who showed us her wonderful organic garden. We sat in the sun and had a talk on the Chinese classics which fascinated us. Our thirst for knowledge and connection was obvious in those pre-internet days. Similarly, I remember a day in Devon with Simon Mills, walking in the countryside sampling herbs together with acupuncturists who also wanted to explore another aspect of natural medicine. In Bournemouth, a talk was arranged by a hypnotherapist for us, fascinating not only for its content but the way in which she put us into a trance state. All of these meetings gave us a chance to get to know many other acupuncturists and experience being with people who shared our interests and held similar ideas. There were conferences too, of course, with many opportunities to connect and to dance the night away.
When the BAcC was formed in 1995, there was a gradual move to publicise what members were doing in different parts of the country so that, eventually, in Acu., there was a list of regional group coordinators along with their contact details, and details of forthcoming events and reports, often with pictures, of those that had taken place. There were other regional groups meeting on a regular basis where they didn’t send in reports but simply let it be known when and where they would be for anyone who wanted to join them. This range of options for members, some where you had organised talks on specific subjects or, alternatively, really informal get togethers, showed how diverse such groups could be. An annual meeting in London for the regional group coordinators enabled people to share best practice, get support, new ideas for speakers and activities and kept them up to date with what the BAcC could provide for them in terms of funding or practical help.
Regional groups post-COVID
Since we now have the internet, and we’ve come through a pandemic, much has changed for regional groups and the way we organise and deliver the meetings. I know that there’s a lot of good practice out there already, as we have many generous members who give their time and energy to running successful groups. Through writing this and future blogs, with the help of regional group co-ordinators that I’ve already been in touch with, I’m keen to share what their groups are doing, so that we might enthuse and encourage more groups to form.
I’ll close with Liver 14, Gate of Hope, which seems to me to be the gate we should be opening for regional groups and their future.
Susan Woodhead FBAcC
You can search for your local Regional Group here.