Traditional Chinese Medicine in sound and vision. Double DVD, 139 minutes.
Available from AVRecording (www.avrecord.de)
(Reviewed by June Tranmer, EJOM Vol. 5 No. 5)
It was with great interest and a little trepidation that I set out to watch and write about this DVD. After all, it is not very often that one gets to critique one’s teacher’s work... and I was more than a little embarrassed that I had not seen it already. Having been inspired by Julian and Teresa and their team in 1993-4, while training with them to treat children with acupuncture, as well as having bought all their books, I have continued to study and teach my own version of the treatment of children with oriental medicinal methods (including a few non-oriental methods as well). Julian continues to inspire many others with his work, and I am guessing that the aim of this DVD is to encourage more people to take up the torch for this wonderful branch of our work. So as well as giving my comments here I have asked someone who does not currently treat children to give his opinion – a fresh perspective, if you like.
My main concerns with this DVD were for the production side of things – the presentation style is not as lively as it could have been, although it is interspersed with some interesting ‘peeling off’ effects, like turning a page at various intervals. There could have been more diagrams/pictures of treatment in action or demonstrations of needle technique. However, the issue of child protection probably comes up here. There was no explanation as to why we could see most of the children but not the one who had his eyes blanked out while Julian was referring to the look in his eyes, which of course we could not see. Exposing images of children in the current climate can be a risky business, and this issue does need to be resolved regarding the showing of our work to colleagues. There is also a noticeable problem with the lighting toward the end of the second disc – it seems to be fading in and out, which was very distracting.
Julian himself said to me when I told him I was doing this review: “It’s boring”. And I am afraid that, to some extent, I do have to agree. Watching one person talking for 130 minutes does stretch the attention span somewhat, fascinating as the subject is. This is not Julian’s fault however, but that of the production team in Germany where it was recorded, I believe. As to the content, I was a bit surprised to hear Julian saying that everyone should consider treating children, ‘even from the very youngest age’. I was sure that he had always told me that people should only treat babies after they had gained some experience and confidence with older children. I do feel it is important that we have some sort of input about the differences between treating children and adults; as Julian himself points out later in the DVD, the needle technique is quite specialised. A reasonable suggestion, I think, is that people ought to have some training, or at the very least some observation in the clinic of someone with some experience. This suggestion is not just because I have been teaching fellow acupuncturists for the past 10 years, but because I really think there are a lot of acupuncturists out there who are nervous of treating children and who might feel they need some guidance before tackling ‘small people’. However, later in the programme he does advise practitioners on how to start treating, not to tackle things beyond their experience and to work down from teenagers to babies as they get more experience.
Julian states that we need to have courage and sensitivity in equal measure, as well as a childlike quality, or at least be in touch with one’s ‘inner child’. In this Julian continues to show us the way. He understands the practical issues such as toys in the clinic being very important and the need for gentle needling and palpation. Throughout the DVD he also demonstrates his observational skills developed by many years of having watched and treated children. However, the colleague who also watched the DVD said it did not encourage him to want to study the treatment of children. He also questioned who the target audience might be, because it is not very clear.
Julian discusses the subjective versus objective responses to children’s cries and qi. Some of his comments may come across as judgemental and some practitioners may take issue with some of the comments about feeling drawn more to help a strong child with a strong cry. But I do agree that we have to follow our own instincts on this. In my own practice, I have found the Hyperactive Spleen qi xu syndrome one of the most useful things he ever taught me. It is a very good way of describing those children who are hyperactive, but not in the classical sense: they are not actually able to get enough qi from their parents, and I think in the DVD Julian did not make the distinction clearly enough between the two types of hyperactivity. When parents have not enough qi to give or are absent in some way from their children, then their children can show the Spleen qi xu characteristics as well as the hyperactivity. In the section where Julian deals with the use of lasers and tui na, he says they are not strong enough for strong children, although personal experience has shown both to be effective on a wide range of children. It is also worth noting, in cases of skin lesions in eczema and cuts and bruises, how they love the way it speeds up healing.
The stories Julian tells on the DVD are very interesting, as are the recordings of the treatments, but more examples scattered throughout the DVD would have been good. Some of the camera work was less valuable. It would have been very helpful to see the needling of Ren 22, but the camera ended up filming the couch. At the beginning of the second disc, Julian makes a very good point about closing the hole after needling. In 300 BCE the needles were about 2mm wide and would have left a very BIG hole, so it would have been quite important to close it! Something Julian mentioned in the DVD that was worth recording and remembering was comparing nappy changing and needling. Children cry for all sorts of reasons and we do not need to be afraid of their crying, just sensitive to it, letting them know that we hear their complaint and we are sympathetic. Children can tell very quickly if we are on their wavelength or not.
I really hope many more acupuncturists will want to study and read about the treatment of children, because having a family practice is so rewarding and enlivens your clinic. It is also a rewarding feeling to be treating the children of young parents whom we knew as teenagers themselves. There is a great feeling of continuity and grounding in your community when you see people growing up, becoming parents and grandparents. Being able to see the whole family sometimes offers you great insights into the patterns as they develop through the generations. All in all, I was re-inspired but cannot help thinking this was a bit of a missed opportunity, given that the Education Committee is debating at the moment what to do about postgraduate qualifications for areas of specialist practice. This DVD is a good contribution to that debate.
June Tramner qualified as a Touch for Health instructor in 1987, as an acupuncturist in 1991 and as a paediatric acupuncturist in 1994. She opened The Healing Clinic in 1992 and a courses room venue in 2003. She is currently the CPD facilitator for N,S, E and W Yorks and is also a qualified mentor/supervisor. A major part of June’s clinical practice since 1993 has been the treatment of children. In 1996 she started classes for parents and carers of children to improve understanding of traditional Chinese medicine. June and her team offer treatments for children in a safe, family-friendly atmosphere.