What to expect from your first consultation

Chinese medicine can be very different from other forms of medicine. What happens at your initial consultation? How long will it take and what can I do to prepare for it?

Practice owner & Chinese herbalist Marie Hopkinson answers your questions about the first time you come in for acupuncture and/or herbal medicine.

The point of the first consultation is to find out the Chinese Medicine diagnosis. I’m aware many of my patients have never had herbs or acupuncture before. Even if they have, it might have been a different style of Chinese medicine to what I am doing, so I’m aware of explaining each step as we go along.

The first thing we do is ask your main health concern – what is it that brought you to seek my help?

You might even have a few health concerns, and that is totally fine. Actually a lot of symptoms or health problems that might be seemingly unrelated in a Western medical context are interconnected from the more holistic view that Chinese medicine has of your body.

After we’ve found out a bit about what’s bothering you, and the main symptoms you have, the next thing will be to check your pulse.

Pulse diagnosis forms the main way to get diagnostic information in our system of Chinese Medicine. We check both sides, feeling for changes in the force, depth, shape…much more than the beats per minute.

It’s normal to take several minutes to assess what’s going on with your pulse. Read more about Chinese Medicine pulse diagnosis.

After checking your pulse, your practitioner will probably ask you a couple more questions as we narrow down on the diagnosis.

Sometimes, abdominal diagnosis is used. Very much like pulse diagnosis, the abdomen is like a map of your body.

Abdominal diagnosis in Chinese medicine is usually fairly gentle. A practitioner is looking for areas that might feel warm or cool, tight or rigid upon even light or medium pressure. Sometimes painful areas might be found – just like when you have “knots in your muscle” you didn’t know were there until your massage therapist found them…many people are not aware of even different temperature changes in their abdomen.

When something is tight, cold, painful for instance it can indicate certain types of herbs are needed and this guides your practitioner in selecting the right formula for your condition.

Once the diagnosis part has been completed (this can take 10 to 20 minutes depending on what’s going on and how complex your situation is),  your practitioner will move onto the treatment.


Before treatment commences, you will have the chance to discuss the diagnosis, treatment plan. I am happy to answer any questions that my patients have. Sometimes the complex nature of Chinese medicine is not easily understood from a little discussion, however I will do my best to explain what’s going so you are empowered to keep on track with the treatment so it can have time to work.

If you decide to have acupuncture, this will be done next.  If it’s your first time to have acupuncture, I’ll normally explain what points we will do, where they are and give you an idea of what to feel and expect as part of the treatment.


Read more on acupuncture.

The acupuncture treatment usually takes 20 minutes, most patients are lying down relaxing while your practitioner will prepare your Chinese herbal medicine and work out any additional advice for you such as diet advice.

When you finish the acupuncture treatment, you are almost done. Some people like to sit quietly in the foyer area, we will have some herbal tea you can drink while you get ready for the rest of your day.

Your practitioner will show you how to take your herbs, giving you any special instructions. Marie has also made a video to show you how to take the herbs.

Please allow one hour for your first consultation and treatment. If you just have Chinese herbal medicine and not acupuncture, allow 30 minutes.

For enquiries about your individual situation, or to make an appointment with Chinese Medicine practitioner, Marie Hopkinson.

NOTICE: this information is provided in public interest of keeping people healthy as possible. Common sense should always be applied. Too much of anything can be hazardous to health. This information is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis by a health practitioner. If you have a health condition, you should check with your health care practitioner before using foods as medicine treatments, if you are in any way unsure about the suitability of the food agents, herbs or recipies for your body. In an medical emergency always contact emergency services, call 000 in Australia.

This article is written by Marie Hopkinson, the Chinese Herbalist & Acupuncturist at Metro Health and Medicine in North Perth. Marie is available for consultation by calling 1300 132 830 or email info@metrohealth.com.au

Marie does not make any claims as to results of treatment. Results will vary from patient to patient. Marie does not claim, nor imply to practice Western medicine. Any reference to diagnosis is strictly in relationship to Chinese Medicine. Marie is registered with AHPRA as a Chinese herbalist and Acupuncturist.