Dr. Adrian Larsen sat down with Kimberly Thompson L.Ac. for an auriculotherapy interview her about her experience with the technique.
They cover everything from what she learned in acupuncture school, to how she used the technique in clinic, how she adapted her own clinic to use it with practically every patient, how she gets instant results, and why she uses this as her go-to marketing tool to lock-in new patients.
No matter your experience or skill with auriculotherapy, this is a must-see interview. Grab some lunch and sit back and learn a little something as you watch this!
Enjoy! (If you don’t see the video here, try re-loading the page.)
Adrian: So we’ve been wanting for a long time to sit down and just talk a little bit about auriculotherapy, what you’ve been doing in your practice. I know there’s a lot of practitioners out there who would love to learn from you and kind of get in your head a little bit and get the tidbits. But before we get started I’ve got to tell you a story… true story, by the way.
We’re sitting here in our office at Miridia, we’re upstairs in the classroom area, so downstairs where all of our offices are, 5 minutes ago I was downstairs and the phone ring and I grabbed it and it was a guy who had just ordered a Stimplus Pro. He’s a dentist and he loves auriculotherapy. He uses it for TMJ, for dental pain, he swears by it, he was just raving about how he loves the auriculotherapy in his practice. And so we got to talking and he was telling me, “yeah, it works”, and he was going on and on and I said, “you know you’ll never going to believe this but I’m 5 minutes away from filming a video, an interview with Kimberly about auriculotherapy and he says, “well you should talk about this.” I said, “okay, I will.” So here we are, a dentist of all things.
So with that little preface, I wanted to get from you… and I want to start at the beginning, okay? So you went to school… and in acupuncture school, you learned a little bit about the ear, and your treatment and so on. Let’s kind of kind of pick it up there. What did you learn in school and what did you do with it?
Kimberly: Well kind of typical with everything that you have to learn in school. You have to learn basic theory, and you have to learn what you need to know in order to pass exams. So the instructors obviously know which points you need to have memorized, you need to know where all the TCM points are, you need to know zones, and areas, and you have to have a few key points. And where I went to school, at PCOM, you learn that just before you’re becoming an intern, so that semester just before you’re doing huge major exams and they condense it down into about six weeks and you learn a whole bunch of stuff that you need to be able to pass this test so that you can move on to study for all of the other exams that you have to take. So you have to learn the basics enough to pass exams to finish college.
Adrian: And then… so then when you got into your… into clinic, did you use it in the clinic?
Kimberly: Then the next phase is…. now we’re in clinic and we’re all excited because we’re going to treat patients. And as you’re coming up with the treatment protocol then somebody might say, “Ooh, I wonder if we could add some more auriculo points in?” So we got really good at memorizing the TCM points, you know the liver, the spleen, the kidneys.
Adrian: Chinese points…
Kimberly: Exactly. You wanted to know where those points were because if you… if the patient had ‘liver yang rising’ or ‘spleen chi damp’, you could add spleen, you could add liver, you could add whatever points you needed to. And shen men, points zero, we knew that those would calm emotions and everything else. And then there were whole bunch of other points that we learned something about but we didn’t quite know which ones to use so unless you had a book. I remember as we’re all standing around a chart and we’d look at the big ear chart and go, “well maybe we could use this one or maybe we could use that one.” So you’d get a visual image in your head of the chart and then you’d go back into the treatment room and possibly stick a needle in…
Adrian: …as close as you could remember anyway.
Kimberly: Exactly. And then write it in a chart and hope that it worked.
Adrian: Hope you got some results…sure. Okay, so you did a little bit of that in clinic. So you graduated, you got a license, you opened a practice, what role did auriculotherapy play when you first opened your practice? Is it something you did much up or were you all about the TCM and the acupuncture?
Kimberly: You know I was very much about the TCM and acupuncture, and I was using the auriculotherapy in the same exact way that I had as an intern because I didn’t know any different. And I was working with a different practitioner, and he had a TCM book and I didn’t have very many patients. Or not a TCM book, an auriculo book, I have Terry Oleson’s book, and I didn’t have very many patients, I had a lot of time and I was reading all of this stuff about auriculotherapy going, “wow, this could be really good… this could be really good.” And so, then I would think about my patient and think you know what protocols, and what might work. And the next phase, here’s how professional I was right in the beginning, the next phase was patient is lying on the table and I’ve got some needles in them for TCM and I want to add ear points. What ear points do I want to add? I bring the book, I lay the book down on the patient’s belly, I look at the book, I look at the ear, I look at the book, I look at the ear I tell them, “hold on just relax.” And then I get some needles in their ear and the I left …left the room.
Adrian: Did you leave the book on the patient?
Kimberly: Yeah… I probably took the book with me and then read more about auriculotherapy in between time.
Adrian: I’ve done that too, I’ll admit it. So yeah…having the book there. We won’t go there.
Kimberly: And of course you want to treat the ear that the book is showing you because if you have to like, turn the book, and think backwards, the opposite sides.
Adrian: Yeah, transpose the right ear to the left side and all that, it’s difficult to do. And so, when you came and started working here, one of the first projects that you and I got involved in and worked on together was trying to take all the information in all these books and synthesize it into a usable, well ultimately a piece of software but also the chart. And you’ve probably, well remember the days we spent with a giant ear projected up on a wall and we’re marking on the wall, on the on the whiteboard, we’re projecting the ear on a whiteboard and we’re marking points and arguing about getting them in place just perfectly…
Kimberly: And I have to bring one book, and another book and show you what the two sides.
Adrian: And piles of books… and trying to harmonize them. Anyhow, it all worked out. We got Auriculo 3D out of the deal so you know what? Obviously it changed what you do. So kind of fast forward to now. I’d like to talk a little bit about what you’re doing with auriculotherapy now and why you’re doing what you’re doing so… go.
Kimberly: Okay before I come to now, I’m going to go back to right after Auriculo 3D was… or the Auriculo program because 2…
Adrian: It started out as 2D.
Kimberly: Auriculo 2 was what I started with and then moving on to Auriculo 3. So it was my job to take all of the different auriculotherapy books that were out there, bring them all into one place, see what this practitioner said about this point and what this practitioner said about this point. And then recognize they’re… there were all… there were points in this book that didn’t match this book, and then realizing, “Oh, they have a different name for this point over here vs. over here.” And so, with synthesizing everything together and getting it in one place and I remember thinking to myself of, “Wow.” After we got, it was like Auriculo 2D and then 3D became my research, as if I had set all by myself which I did, I researched all of these different acupuncture points and put them all in one place. And if I could pick and choose and put them all together into protocols and take notes and keep information, it became a resource that had I had a resource like this when I was in college, when my instructor talked about points and they said, “you should use this point for such and such”, I could have typed the notes in and I could have remembered the stories and remember the wow and how they were used and searched that and been able to utilize it more in the clinic. So… the next stage began, I began to trust because now I had… I already trusted that auriculotherapy could work but I didn’t trust my knowledge of choosing which points to put it all together. So now that research had been done in the Auriculo 3D program. And now I could bring up an entire protocol and began testing. “Okay does this work for anxiety? Does this work for pain? Does this work for hemorrhoids? Does this work for gastrointestinal?
Adrian: So you’re doing stuff you’ve never done before? That point?
Kimberly: Exactly. I was trusting the knowledge of others that had come before me and what they were telling me about auriculotherapy. And all of a sudden, everything changed in my clinic. Patients were getting better faster. I was seeing immediate results. And so now it was not only their knowledge that I could trust from a book put together in a software program but it then became my personal experience. When I watched patients go, “Wow! That was amazing!” And I watched patients get better faster and I put it all together. Now, I have… if you fast-forward what 7 years? 7 years?… Fast forward 7 years of auriculotherapy is a stand-alone. I mean you can… you can treat a patient for pain and absolutely their pain can stop that moment. I know that if I’m going to treat a patient for anxiety and emotions and I put those points in… that they’re going to do better when they leave my clinic. I know that if a patient has gastrointestinal issues right at the moment, I can treat the ear and have them relax and 80% of my treatment is done. Then… and I add needles into the process into the body just because that’s how my clinic runs but it’s a…
Adrian: So find yourself starting only here?
Kimberly: Oftentimes… often times. Once I had a database to work from, and that’s what a Auriculo 3D gave me was a database, it gave me all of the research that was out there, all in one place that I could manipulate into my own clinic, create my own protocols. Obviously, I helped create a lot of the protocols that are in Auriculo 3D but as I come up with new ideas and new changes, I can make my own protocols. So that was the first step and then recognizing that there were so many other tools out there that I can use to become even more effective once I have this database. It just keeps going to higher and higher levels.
Adrian: Yeah sounds like you have unfinished plumbing the depths of that. I want to tell a quick story, you know the dentists that called me. And that I was talking to a few minutes ago. He kind of shared a story with me and that’s when I… this is what he told me before I said, “hey you know I’m about to go film this video, can we talk about this?” He was telling me when he went and learned auriculotherapy he was at a seminar, at a hotel and he was there being caught and he bought some equipment and so on. And his dad… it was near where his dad lived, his dad was having a terrible time with sciatica to the point that they were going to put him in a wheelchair. He was older you know and he couldn’t get around because the pain was so bad. And anyway, this guy said it was fresh, new, he never tried this and his dad says, “no, no, forget the wheelchair, come here, let me try this.” He treats his ear, tries a couple of points, doesn’t get much, tries the sciatica point, gets an amazing change in his dad. He says… “and for the next two days Dad walked fine.” And then it start to come back, he treated him again, long story short he says that, “I treated my dad 7 times and that was it, never had sciatica again, for the next 20 years.” They were going to put him in a wheelchair and he… you know it took a few treatments to get it permanently go away but every time he treated him, it would go away for a few days and it went longer and longer until it never came back. And that was what made him a believer. And the cool part about that I think is that… it’s you don’t need years of experience to make this stuff work.
Kimberly: Now I remember when I first was getting my Aha stories and I was writing about them all the time like, “Oh I have another blog, I can write these fantastic Aha stories.” I get Aha stories on a daily basis. Yesterday, I had a patient who came in, she’s a regular patient and she’s been telling her mother about acupuncture for a really long time and her mother was hesitant and not interested but this day it was snowing and her mother needed to drive her to the appointment. So her mom sat there watching the whole time while I was treating her daughter and she was fascinated and ask lot of questions. And she was telling me how she’s got this shoulder pain that just won’t go away and she wondered if acupuncture might help for her and I said, “well yeah I think it would.” She goes well, is it fast? Is it effective? How long? And I said, “you know your daughter’s here on the table let me just try something really quick.” I grabbed my Stimplus Pro, I scanned her ear, I found a couple of one… actually treated 2 points. I treated one electrically, and the one that was the most tender, I put an ear seed on and I pressed on it and I said, “can you recreate that pain?” And she moved it around, and she goes, “when can I book an appointment with you?” It’s become such a… I mean I’ve got certain things memorized in my Auriculo 3D that I don’t even have to bring up the the protocol but that was a story yesterday. So just because of my experience with auriculotherapy, I get new patients just like that because it’s so effective, it stops pain immediately. And then this morning, I knew we were doing this video today but I came into the office and one of the guys… Cameron was saying, “Kimberly, I’ve been coughing and I think I have a rib out, can you check it for me?” So we went into the treatment room and I grabbed my Stimplus Pro and I found the point that I needed to treat. I treated his rib and I said, “now what do you have going on?” He was, “wow, I think you just fixed it.” Just like that. So it’s so effective that you want to have an Arsenal. At first, I trusted all the research of everyone else and that I had gathered into a program of Auriculo 3D and then I used it, and used it, and used it and got experience, experience, experience and now… it works. It works over and over again and because it works, it’s a fantastic marketing tool because if I need a new patient…
Adrian: Well in fact.. Yeah… I wanted to ask you before we talk about marketing because I want to spend a little time on that but I have some kind of rapid fire questions I want to ask, okay? So question number 1, about what percentage of your patients, or not your patients, your visits entail auriculotherapy?
Adrian: Okay, so almost all the time, almost every patient you’re doing this in conjunction with other things. Next question, and I really don’t know the answers here, I’m just curious what you say, how many of your visits only entail auriculotherapy?
Kimberly: Not very many. Most of the time there’s always some other element in, just the nature of my clinic, my patients coming in for an hour so it doesn’t take very long.
Adrian: Yeah absolutely. Okay. And then next question…
Kimberly: And then last time out and about because then I have a tool in my purse and I can fix family members. It’s fantastic for those family members who want you to treat them you just do a little thing on their ear and they’re happy and you don’t have to spend all your family gathering treating everyone.
Adrian: Oh I bet you’re popular at the family reunions.
Kimberly: Exactly. Sorry didn’t mean to take you off track
Adrian: No, no, no, not off track after all. And then in terms of results, you know people getting out of pain, people noticing indifference, this is kind of a hard thing to quantify and I don’t even know what to ask in terms of is it a percentage or what, but acupuncture alone which is great, love acupuncture versus acupuncture and auriculotherapy combined, what would you say the change in results is?
Kimberly: I couldn’t give you a number but as I have watched the success of my clinic over the years for a long time, all I was doing was basic acupuncture. Once I really got a handle on auriculotherapy, patients that used to take maybe 10 visits to get their results were getting… now getting their results in 5 visits. So I would say if you’re adding auriculotherapy to your acupuncture treatment, your results are multiplied times 2.
Adrian: Now the cynical me would say, “well that’s a bad thing, you just cut all your patient visits in half that’s not good for the bottom line.” So with that, let’s roll into marketing and first of all, before we talk about how you used it in marketing and you’ve already kind of given a great example, I wanted to just talk about marketing results. How much of your, I don’t know, practice growth or your patients or new patients, how much of that would you attribute to being able to demonstrate with auriculotherapy?
Kimberly: Without giving you a number percentage because that’s not the way my mind thinks. I’m going to give you three examples of how auriculotherapy has added new patients into my clinic. One, every patient who comes into the clinic, when they sit down in a chair to take off their shoes and get ready to sit on the table for treatment, there is the Auriculo Ear, the big ear is sitting on the wall right next to where they sit and so they always when they’re getting dressed and when they’re getting on the table they look at that ear and they’re like, “I had no idea acupuncture treats so many things.” “I didn’t know you could treat hemorrhoids, could you treat this?” And so they’ll just look at this big ear and recognize how many things I can treat and so they’re always taking, cards are right there obviously, and so they’re telling people about me based on things that they didn’t know. Just seeing it, they’re fascinated about how many points are on that ear. And so that’s fascinating thing to them so that’s one. The second thing is, I work in a multi-faceted clinic. I am the only acupuncturist but we have naturopath, and we have nutritionist, and we have a nurse practitioner, and we have a natural MD. And I do my best to educate them bits and pieces and I run a very busy clinic so it’s not like I’m sitting around and have a lot of time to say, “Oh you have a problem, come on in and let me fix you.” But whenever they have their small problems that can really, “my neck hurt, my shoulder or my this or my that,” is that I always have time to pull them into a room, do a quick little analysis with the ear, treat them, leave ear seeds on them and they go around our office telling everyone who comes to, “Oh our acupuncturist, she is so great and she’s so good at what she does.” So just by doing… giving them relief with auriculotherapy, they’re taking what? 10 minutes of my time if even. And they’re referring patients. So if it’s up to my notoriety I guess, marketability, popularity within the clinic. So that is one. And then I belong to a networking group and I do multiple presentations every year. I do about 3 a year and one of them each year I always talk about auriculotherapy and I spend about 10 minutes just bringing people up and asking them where they have a pain and doing a quick scan at the ear, treating and putting an ear seed on and so the people sitting there are so impressed, the people watching there are so impressed. And it’s just a really easy way to show how acupuncture works and I’m not using any needles or anything else. So those are three of my ways that I bring in.
Adrian: And so it sounds to me like this tool… this technique brings you a lot of business.
Adrian: And so couple of other quick, you know rapid-fire things, so when you performing auriculotherapy in your clinic, what percent of the time are you using this the Stimplus Pro to locate? We’ll talk about treating in a minute, but just for locating.
Adrian: So you’re always using the Stimplus Pro, the electrical point finder locating, and then…
Kimberly: Because remember back in college I would look at a chart and go, “I think that point is there and I would put a needle in it and now the Stimplus Pro, I know where the point is. The patient knows I found the point, I know where it is and I can push a button and treat it, it’s effective.
Adrian: Cool. And so that’s the other question, treatment. Invasive versus noninvasive. We’ll start with that one. So invasive meaning a needle or semi-permanent needle. What percentage of the time are you using that at least… at least one needle?
Kimberly: You know I will use needles if I feel like the patient just needs to sit and “bake” if you will, they’re going to be laying there for a long time and we’re going to put some needles in. If they have a chronic condition then I am treating with the microcurrent and then I’m either leaving, if I’m seeing them really regularly and let say I’m going to see them in a couple of days, I’ll put ear seeds on the points and I will ask them to stimulate it at home in between time. If they are moving on and they’re not quite so chronic and maybe there’s emotional issues or addiction or long-term chronic conditions then I use the semi-permanent needles and because that they last longer.
Adrian: Okay, and of course electrical treatment with the Stimplus Pro sounds like you do a lot of that and I know you like to use tape on ear seeds because you’ve treated me on a number of occasions and you’re always taping the seeds on. Any other treatment techniques besides what we’ve mention here, that you’re doing with the ear. For example, do you ever use lasers on the ear?
Kimberly: On rare occasions and mostly it’s just to test it out or if I didn’t have the Stimplus with me I would use the laser and sort of… use like a massage technique on where I know that I will be treating and I would use the laser but this Stimplus is by far my favorite tool for the ear.
Adrian: Cool. Alright, so…
Kimberly: Oh I want to use ear bling sometimes.
Adrian: Oh yeah, the little jewels that you stick on there. Well I know that those are kind of popular and frankly a lot better looking than the seeds. People think you have some kind of weird skin condition with the seeds.
Kimberly: You send an old man home with blinging in his ear and he walks out proud.
Adrian: I’ll bet he does.
Kimberly: Even the semi-permanent.
Adrian: So what would be your advice then to… you know you’re typical acupuncturist out there who’s maybe doing what you did in school? Maybe needle here and there but not really doing much with auriculo, what would you suggest?
Kimberly: I would say, if you are a student, you want the Auriculo 3D program hands down, right from the beginning when you’re beginning any auriculotherapy classes because as your instructors are talking to you and telling you great stories, you can type them in, and you can create your own protocols and you can really… when it comes time that you’re going out to treat patients, you’ll have everything that you learned right at your fingertips and you’ll be more effective. So that is if you are a student. If you are a new practitioner, I would say Auriculo 3D will help you become a better practitioner faster. You’ll get better results and as you get better results than you’ll get more referrals and your practice will grow faster. And if you are a long-term practitioner and you know a little bit about auriculotherapy but you never learned a lot, we can we can step that up. We can help you get better results and you’ll figure it out like I did. You probably had a lot of patients, and all the sudden they’re getting better twice as fast. And we’ve developed the ‘Ear Cure’ book here which is a lot of information that I did not learn in college. I learned that here is the point location, there might be a bump, it will might be tender, poke at it and then stick a needle in it. There’s so much more than that and all of the information that we have put into ‘Ear Cure’ book will take an average person who knows a little bit and help them expand greatly with the technology that’s available.
Adrian: Very cool… very cool. Well I got to tell you, I really appreciate you taking the time. I’m sure the people watching appreciate the information you’ve got to share. I know there’s a lot of practitioners out there who are looking for a way to not only get better results but to get better financial results in their practice, have a busier practice. Oh quick question, you said that you schedule patients for an hour but how many rooms are you running?
Kimberly: Oh I’m running 2 rooms at a time.
Adrian: Okay so you’re not spending the full hour with a single person. You’re back and forth, back and forth getting needles in and letting them sit and so you have a pretty busy practice day then?
Kimberly: Correct. I might see 15 to 18 patients in a day.
Adrian: And then you’re kind of booked out always too?
Adrian: That’s a great place to be… Alright, so thank you for sharing all that information. Great job, keep up the good work!
Kimberly: Thank you!