Heather started her Acupuncture or really her Traditional Chinese Medicine Journey in the 90’s with taking Tai Qi and reading Tao of Pooh. She really felt a shift in her life for doing Tai Qi and meditation. This increased her interest in whole body healing at the time she was working in Psychiatric hospitals, and studying to get my Ph.D. in Psychology. She found after continuously intergrading Tai Qi and Tao meditation into her life her heart was really in drawn to Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 1998 she looked all over the Tri-State area for Acupuncture schools, and in 1999 she was accepted to Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and she has never looked back since. She just dove deeper and deeper into the vase ocean of knowledge, health, and healing of Chinese Medicine. She am currently a new mother of a “COVID” baby, and he is 3 years old, and she lives and works in NYC.
Hello Heather Noonan-Spillane, L.Ac., M.S.!
Welcome to the Acupuncturist of the Month interview.
So, how long have you been practicing acupuncture for, and what are your specialties?
I have had my office open since 2003, so 20 years this Spring. I treat all imbalances in the body, emotional, genetic, injuries and most diseases that a human body can get. I do like focusing on prevention with established clients and whole body health (ie. diet, exercise, supplements). My two favorite Western diagnosed disorders to treat are Migraines, and all gynecological disorders.
What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?
I was drawn to it and integrating the Ancient Chinese Health ways into my life like I said, but really I got a great push from Dr. Bosch. He was the lead Psychiatrist I worked with in the E.R. in a Queens Hospital. He was already working as a Practitioner of Chinese medicine in his private practice. We would start our day with looking at charts of clients we needed to see as a team. He always started our rounds with a meditation, then a thorough peaceful look at the charts, and then interviewed the client. He was a major inspiration for me, and advised that I take the leap to acupuncture school ASAP, and I did.
How do you incorporate meditation into your acupuncture practice?
I often walk my clients through mediation for the first 5 mins of the needling time.
Tell us the ways in which you integrate ancient techniques with the demand of modern medicine?
I use feng shui in my office and clinically proven healing music to create an oasis of calm and healing in midtown Manhattan.
On your journey to become an acupuncturist, what obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
My family at first was not very supportive, really thinking I was a little nutty to go into Acupuncture. I was also on my own financially, and I was not in good shape, so I had to find jobs that fit around my school schedule. I had to get rid of my NYC apartment, and live for a while as pet sitter and house sitter.
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 have a client who has very bad bone deterioration in the spine and left hip. He has spinal fusion, and doing Acupuncture and Chinese herbs full time he had a really wonderful quick painless recovery. He was walking in 3 days, and was back to his full schedule in week. Now, he does daily Qi Gong exercises. He really is a wonderful integrative medical success story.
How do you feel your experience as a researcher and counselor in hospitals has influenced the way you deal with your acupuncture patients?
It has made me great at intake and new clients. I would almost say I am an artist at it. Clients often think I am psychic, which I am not. I am just really good at listening to clients and diagnosing what is going on and explaining it.
What makes you feel inspired about acupuncture?
Everything, the deep rich history of Chinese medicine is so complex and beautiful my interest and learning and joy never seems to end.
You offer your medical training to victims of domestic and international disasters, as well as acupuncture without borders; that is so inspirational. What brought you to volunteer your time to these organizations?
TCM is amazing at PTSD; either recent or long ago. The imbalance stories in the body similar to muscle memory with a movie of flash backs can be cleared and the mind re-harmonized. The client is free from a lot of the pain and suffering from it often in a few treatments. There are so many bio-medical reasons why this happens, that there is almost no one who denies the efficiency of it. So people have modified the system from acupuncture and called it their own or something else, such as EFT tapping. So with stuff out there so much I really wanted to offer the more complete medical applications to the people who need it the most, and I found a lot of support from so many agencies.
It’s a long answer to say I love helping people with acupuncture especially people with limited resources, who may not other wise ever had ability to get acupuncture.
What keeps an acupuncture practice going?
Continual enthusiasm, and you have to be in over your head all the time.
What are specific roadblocks to watch out for as a new acupuncturist?
Quick money; it’s a slow and steady road. Always put it first as your primary business even if you work another job, as you grow.
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?
My reaction to this is to just give the client a clean safe space if I have empty room available I bring them right in, give them water and my full attention for 10 to 15 mins. Try not to rush them or ask them what is going on just be with them.
“The deep rich history of Chinese medicine is so complex and beautiful my interest and learning and joy never seems to end.”
– Heather Noonan-Spillane