Top Acupuncturist in Austin, TX, Dr. Jenna Valentine, DACM, L.Ac, Dipl.OM is Acupuncturist of the Month
Dr. Jenna Valentine is the owner and primary practitioner at Valentine Care in Austin, TX. She is a Doctor of Chinese medicine and licensed acupuncturist certified by the Texas Medical Board. Jenna uses a holistic, multi-modality approach when treating clients and offers acupuncture, cupping therapy, bodywork, Chinese herbs, and much more. In addition, Valentine Care has an intimacy coaching and somatic discovery component to ensure that clients are all living their best – and most integrated- lives. She is the creator of the Aggressive Self Care Card deck, is in the process of publishing her first book, and enjoys public speaking and storytelling. When not working with clients, Jenna can be found at the gym, hanging with her daughter, reading too many books at one time, laughing loudly at comedy shows, and eating way too much Mexican food.
Jenna’s diverse background includes working in the realm of child welfare and juvenile justice, the Veteran’s Administration, drug recovery clinics, low income health care clinics, and an elite matchmaking firm. She is quick to laugh and slow to judge, believes there is no such thing as TMI and is extremely passionate about empowering others to take control of their wellness journey.
Hello Dr. Jenna Valentine, DACM, L.Ac, Dipl.OM!
Welcome to the Acupuncturist of the Month interview!
So, how long have you been practicing acupuncture for, and what are your specialties?
I’ve have my own acupuncture practice for around 3 years now, but have been seeing patients since 2016. I made a conscious decision to avoid specializing so that I can have the best opportunity to help whoever walks through my door. However, I have ended up working a lot with men’s health, intimacy and also skin care. It sometimes feels so random, but I love that I get a wide variety and couldn’t be bored if I tried!
What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?
My background is in child welfare and juvenile justice, but when I went through a divorce it really gave me the opportunity to explore other passions. Acupuncture had been part of my life for decades and I would aggressively (with love) recommend it to everyone in my life. It took a dramatic life change to realize that I could be the one doing the thing I loved so much.
You have a psychology background; can you tell us how that has influenced your TCM treatments today? What led you to pursue acupuncture instead?
It 1000% influences my treatments. I’m so grateful that my psychology background was part of my winding path into Chinese medicine. It allows me to meet people at a deeper level so we can work on body, mind and emotional/spiritual wellness in a truly holistic and integrated way. It has also given me the gift of being able to hold space for anything that comes up in sessions. I believe that only working with the mind isn’t sufficient to full scope healing and wanted the ability to work with bodies as well to move energy and access the deep healing that is often separate from our verbal brain.
We see that you do coaching on relationships and intimacy – very interesting! How did you become interested in these services for your patients?
YES! Sex and relationships are two highly charged areas in almost everyone’s lives and yet we often avoid the topic or get uncomfortable with it. It can be so helpful to have a space that can allow for all parts of a person – including their intimate lives. Acupuncture is an amazing way to support libido, erectile function, etc, so it makes sense to be talking about this stuff. I started the intimacy coaching business before my acupuncture business while I was going through my divorce. People in my life started asking me to talk to their friends/ family/ coworkers/ neighbors about divorce and intimacy which became unsustainable and I decided to create a business around it. I kind of thought this would be a buffer and then I wouldn’t be doing it anymore, but people started hiring me and the rest is history. Now, it’s a beautiful way to help clients delve into self love and engage in more fulfilling relationships.
Tell us about your book “Mantras of Bad B!tches”. What inspired you to write this book?
This book was in my heart for so long. I felt there wasn’t an alternative voice that offerred a humrous and slightly irreverent approach to spiritual work, so I added mine to the mix. It’s meant to draw in the people who think meditation isn’t for them because they don’t look/act/talk like a ‘meditator.’ So, I call bullsh!t on that and offer an easy way to begin.
On your journey to become an acupuncturist, what obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Well, I hadn’t been a student in decades, so that was an adjustment. Figuring out how to work, single parent, stay connected with my loved ones, stay committed to exercise and do all the regular life things on top of an intense and long graduate program and then doctorate program was. . . a lot. Luckily, I have a lot of grit and believe so deeply in this medicine that giving up was never an option.
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 LOVE this question. Today I had a client come in on crutches from knee pain due to an injury. Using the balance method, he was able to walk out holding his crutches! We were both amazed. He also left with a bottle of Golden Flower’s Trauma 1 formula and some herbal topical. I added in ear shenmen which I tend to do anytime there is pain. We did a little light cupping on the IT bands of both legs which were tight and I suggested an epsom salt bath. The success stories are miraculous. I probably wouldn’t believe them if I wasn’t witnessing them daily.
You have worked with so many great organizations such as the Veterans Administration, the Austin Recovery Center, People’s Community Clinic, and more! Was there a particular experience that touched you the most or that you feel influenced your practice the most?
Y’all really ask amazing questions. There was this amazing man who came in at the Veteran’s Administration with low back pain and a lot of life stress. He was pretty old school and a bit of a curmudgeon, so I knew I was going out on a limb when I suggested he incorporate yoga and meditation into his life. He responded with, “well, I don’t know about all that, but I did recently start to lay on my floor and stretch and breathe for about an hour every day.” I told him that he was probably doing more yoga and meditation than any of the acupuncturists he’d met and we had such a good laugh. It reminded me not to get wrapped up in the words and labels I’m familiar with. I call it yoga. He calls it stretching and breathing. But, we are talking about the same thing and it was such a great reminder to meet people where they are at and use that language that resonates for them.
What advice would you give to other acupuncturists who want to implement a multitude of modalities within their practice in a seamless way as you have?
Call me and we can chat! Lol – honestly, though – I love talking with other acupuncturists about how I run my business. I’d say the most important quality is to stay curious. I love having a multitude of modalities so that I have the best shot of finding the exact tool in my large tool box for each individual client. I want this medicine to be individualized for each client and be able to see what modalities work best for each person. It also keeps me interested in learning everything that’s out there. Clients love that I’m always seeking and learning new modalities and trying things with them because they know I’m always out hunting for whatever is going to help them the most. Be curious. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Remember that laughter is medicine too, so if you mess up a new modality and laugh with your client about it – that is it’s own version of vibrational healing!
“Acupuncture is this powerful yet gentle medicine. It works WITH the body instead of against it.” – Dr. Jenna Valentine
What makes you feel inspired about acupuncture?
Acupuncture is this powerful yet gentle medicine. It works WITH the body instead of against it. We tend to fight our bodies instead of learning more about them. Acupuncture seeks to bring the body back into harmony and balance by figuring out what has led to the imbalances and then shifting those. It’s so supportive and diplomatic and nonviolent. I love helping people develop a better rapport with their bodies and teaching them to listen to the subtle signs and embrace their body having needs instead of getting irritated and taking whatever pill gets the body to shut up and stop complaining. I tell people that I get to watch nervous systems relax on my table all day and it is more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen.
Looking back, what advice would you have given to the younger version of yourself, who was just getting started in this profession?
It would be to be more comfortable not knowing. I wanted so badly to know everything and to be able to “fix” everyone. Now, I deeply trust that the process will unfold as it’s supposed to and that I am simply a part of the flow of the client’s healing journey. I can’t want it more than they do, but I can be there as a witness to their experience.
What keeps an acupuncture practice going?
I think it’s a mixture of talent (getting good client results), social skills (fostering good client relationships and being able to network) and business savvy (knowing when to hire the website guy since you absolutely suck at the website things). Then probably a dash of luck and the Universe agreeing it is the right path for you. Oh, and self care. You must take care of yourself to be able to take care of others.
What are specific roadblocks to watch out for as a new acupuncturist?
Other acupuncturists are your friends, please don’t view them as competition. I love having acupuncture pals and bouncing ideas off each other. Also, get comfortable promoting yourself – the best way for clients to find you is for them to know you exist. I’d also say that you absolutely MUST be authentic. When you show up as your authentic self you give clients the permission to do the same. You also end up attracting the right clients. It’s the best.
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?
Hold space for them, but don’t take it personally. Keep calm, validate the frustration, hold your boundaries and know that their energy expression is part of their journey. Getting to see someone in an unguarded moment like that is wonderful for me because I learn more about their energy system and how I can help with acupuncture and herbs. The emotional wounding they are showing is no different from them coming in with back spasms, migraines, etc. It’s an acute moment and our medicine gets to shine! I’ll reiterate here that the more self work you’ve done and the more comfortable you are with your own emotions of feeling upset, angry, frustrated the better you can be with the client without getting triggered. So, do your self work please and thank you.
What are your favorite acupuncture points, and why?
This is like asking a parent of multiple kids who their favorite kid is. . . super hard to choose and each one has a time to shine. That being said, ear shenmen, Du 26, ST 36, KD 3, R 6 are some of my favorites. Four gates is also pretty darn awesome in our overly qi-stagnating world.
Tell us about some herbal formulas and foods you find yourself consistently recommending to your patients, friends, and colleagues. What makes these herbs/foods so helpful?
I love Xiao Yao San and Gui Pi Tang. I love ban lan gen tea when people are starting to get sick and Yin Qiao San when people are traveling and getting exposed to a lot of people. I’m a big fan of supplements like Vit D and Vit C and glutathione. I love teaching people about avoiding ice and why that’s important and why I’ll still love them if they have a frozen margarita. I’ll often suggest foods that have more protein and fiber and iron (especially for my menstruating female clients). I am obsessed with White Flower Oil as a way to clear nasal congestion and also as a pain topical. Talking about food and herbs is so fun because it’s a great platform to educate clients on how bodies work and help them get clear that what they put into their body is the raw material that the body has available for building all other processes – so, don’t give the body crappy building materials.
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’ve learned so much from the other acupuncturists in my life. Each one has such a different style and approach, which is really freeing to me. It taught me that I can craft my own style and follow my own intuition on how I care for patients. We are also always sharing fun and helpful CEU (continuing education unit) courses, interesting workshops, etc. I also had a functional medicine doctor mentor who really help take my blood lab interpretation to the next level and will be forever grateful to her!
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 precarious times?
COVID-19 really helped acupuncture shine. It brought people’s awareness to their health and immune function in a deeply powerful way. Chinese herbal formulas and modalities stepped in when the Western medicine didn’t have any answers and it showed the world the beauty and effectiveness of this medicine. I love teaching clients about how amazing their immune systems are and how we can support those. The stress, isolation, and trauma of the pandemic is still ongoing and yet another area where acupuncture shines. I’m so grateful to have been about to support people physically and emotionally through that unprecedented event that still lingers in many ways. My advice would be the same with any complex case we see – don’t over complicate it, go back to the basics (tongue, pulse, the main important questions) and use your differential diagnosis skills. The name of the virus doesn’t matter as much in this medicine – it is in the differential diagnosis and how the body is interacting with the pathogen which tells us how to help.
Do you have any daily habits or rituals that keep you at your “best-self”, both as an acupuncture practitioner and person?
YES! I aim to do a short meditation and yoga practice each morning. I go to therapy. I receive acupuncture. I exercise often. I get out in nature and spend time with people I love. I’m always reading and learning and exploring. I drink a lot of water (and sometimes too much coffee) and use the infrared sauna as much as possible. I’m a huge fan of keeping a positive mindset and finding as many reasons to laugh as possible.
The kindest thing a patient said to you recently:
I had a client send me this message a few days ago “I’ve learned to actively love myself more. To advocate for myself. To be responsible for myself, and not for others. I’ve learned to listen to my body better and give it the care it needs. I’ve learned that I get the love that I accept.” It was a total heart explosion.
The funniest thing a patient said to you recently:
A client told me they were crying and then heard my voice cheering on their tears and hyping up their ability to access sadness and that made them laugh so then they were laugh-crying and had tears and snot everywhere. It made me laugh so hard along with them.
As an acupuncturist, what are you most proud of thus far in your professional journey?
That I’ve created a space where people feel safe enough to relax and let their guard down. That people trust that I can go with them to the deepest, darkest places and walk through hell with them and also giggle with them and celebrate their joys. That my clients know I will tenderly witness their greatest shame stories with love and non-judgement and that I’m not afraid of their biggest scariest feelings.
If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be and why?
“Have you thanked your body today?” I have it written on the white board out front of my office door. It’s a reminder that our bodies deserve care. Many people have ignored their body for so long. They’ve hated it, berated it, abused it, been scared of it, and/or have felt it wasn’t a safe place to exist in. I’m so protective of bodies and am so grateful to be shifting the mindset of my clients into a place of self love and reverence for this incredible (and temporary) gifts we’ve been given in the form of the human body.
What is your definition of success?
To me success is living out your purpose with integrity and joy and leaving everyone you meet a little bit better than you found them. I also value freedom as part of success and to me this means a combination of financial, mindset, time and health freedoms. I try keep my four freedom pillars balanced.
If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
To snap my fingers and make everyone fall deeply in love with themselves. All goodness stems from self love. As does the ability to love others (and nature) deeply. I think this would solve the vast majority of the worlds problems. Although shapeshifting would also be pretty badass.
*Rapid fire questions! *:
Morning or night? Morning Tea or coffee? Coffee Sun or moon? Moon Cupping or Tui na? Cupping Yin or Yang? Yin (but balanced) Meditation or exercise? Exercise Instagram or Facebook? Instagram Top 3 Favorite Books? Mantras of Bad B!tches (obviously lol!), The Body Keeps Score, Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers
Where can other licensed acupuncturists, students, and patients go to learn more about your work?