A Wichita acupuncturist hopes to reach more clients with quicker, more affordable group sessions.
Kimberly Vester-Couch, owner and operator of Bluestem Acupuncture Clinic of Kansas, is offering what she calls “community acupuncture” sessions twice a week for up to four people at a time.
“It’s a new concept, both here and in Kansas,” Vester-Couch said. “I would say the coastal states have been having more success with community acupuncture.”
Vester-Couch will offer the community sessions from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday and from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday. The Thursday session should appeal to “downtown workers who like to have the option over the lunch hour” while Saturdays could be used by working mothers or people looking to save money.
“There are some people that come in for treatment, they’re not able to come in for three or four treatments,” she said. “If they found it useful, I wanted to be able to provide that service.” The community sessions will cost about half as much as individual sessions.
A Wichita native, Vester-Couch first got interested in helping people feel better after moving to Hawaii in the early 1990s. Initially planning to attend college there, she instead became a licensed massage therapist. After moving back here, she got introduced to acupuncture through a longtime local practitioner, Qizhi Gao, who she said “could do so much more for patients than I could.
“I would see people for neck pain weekly, and he would see them for acupuncture and they would get relief immediately.”
Vester-Couch earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wichita State University, then graduated from the Kansas College of Chinese Medicine in 2008. Licensed by the state of Kansas, Vester-Couch specializes in the Japanese style of acupuncture, which includes pressing or “palping” points on the body before inserting needles.
“They call it opening the channels when you press certain points,” she said. “It’s relaxing and beneficial for the patient.”
She also offers Chinese herbology, cupping — in which suction draws blood to a certain part of the body — and Moxibustion, in which a dried flower is burnt and placed on or near an acupuncture point.
Vester-Couch recently moved her clinic into a larger space, giving her room to offer community acupuncture. Those sessions last 12 minutes and participants remain clothed while relaxing in zero gravity chairs. The needles are applied to points below the elbow and knee.
Many people think acupuncture is only effective in relieving aches and pains, Vester-Couch said, but it can also combat everything from insomnia and sinus trouble to hay fever, depression and migraines.
“Often people think of trying acupuncture when they’ve tried everything else,” she said. “I would just like for people to consider acupuncture as one of the things they should explore when symptoms start arising. If we can get them when it first starts, often they don’t have to come in as long.”
Bluestem Acupuncture Clinic of Kansas
Address: 505 S. Broadway
Owner: Kimberly Vester-Couch