Meet Kim Clements-Duffy, the founder of Tend Acupuncture and an experienced acupuncturist. She has been running her practice since 2007, specializing in various TCM modalities such as Tui Na, gua sha, cupping, moxa, and more. Kim places a strong emphasis on emotional health, believing it is crucial for achieving balance in healing physical well-being, particularly for individuals diagnosed with cancer. She is dedicated to ensuring that they are seen and respected throughout their challenging health journey. Discover more about her and her extensive knowledge of TCM in our spotlight feature.
How did you begin as an acupuncturist, and what brought you to start practicing?
I started working in a physical therapy practice in high school, through college, and even into my acupuncture master’s degree. I always knew I was drawn to health and care. I also had some high stress early in childhood and didn’t realize I was experiencing emotional distress like anxiety until closer to adulthood. Meanwhile, I was working with PT patients and while helping them with exercises and learning about their physical pain, I was also learning about who they were, their daily routines, their challenges, and in some cases some really difficult life situations. It kept occurring to me that physical pain had so many other elements tethered to it. How we relate to discomfort, pain, ability to sleep, weight, attitude, emotions. I happened to connect with an acupuncturist and decided to experience what acupuncture had to offer me. After just a few treatments, I was having such an impactful conversation about my own symptoms, root causes, and patterns I had created that were not helping me. I had a whole different perspective about what it means to create healing, modern day health care, and holism. I was vested in being a part of a historical system of care that felt way more in alignment with what I felt was a rich and meaningful way to care for people. I have been in private practice now for about 18 years.
Most people always gear towards acupuncture first, but with the addition of Tui Na, facial rejuvenation acupuncture, along with nutritional therapy, how has the extended your practice and boosting your clients health?
I think there are many “doorways” into healing and each individual shows up in a way where some needs are more important for them than others. I find that blending modalities inside an acupuncture treatment plan, supports and extends the core work that we are doing. I believe in making sure to establish rapport with a patient and getting clear about what and why we are adding modalities into a treatment plan. Being adaptable and weaving in other methods allows patients to continue to experience the many ways in which the pillars of TCM can intersect and gives support to their ever changing health journey.
What has been the most rewarding experience for you while caring for women in a variety of situations, such as recovering cancer patients or those with complicated physical symptoms?
I find that holding steady space with emotional imbalances that accompany disease patterns is a rewarding challenge. Gaining more experience working with 7 emotions of diseases according to the Chinese classics. How someone heals and transforms habitual emotional reaction often involves peeling thought layers of thoughts, stories, and beliefs helping to gently reframe things when appropriate. It feels very human and often very simple. Sometimes just sitting together and just experiencing a good cry with a client does more than a needle will. Letting women explore what they are feeling, hearing themselves express their own wisdom out loud and holding gentle space for exploration into sorrow, grief, disappointment, anger, and fear can be a big shift for some people.
I often remind my patients that learning about their boundaries, the challenge to speak up, and assert what their own needs are is extremely important. Learning to say ‘No’, understanding limits, and not self shaming or feeling guilty for needing more space or more time to internalize and make sense of things. Decompress, integration and healing follow no timeline. I often find that sharing acupuncture point translations with women often really is appreciated because it always feels like their spirit and the poetic references of these glorious historical points speak deeply to reach the Shen, and bypass the thinking mind.
How do you meld and find balance in your daily personal life, running your practice, and the many projects you bring about?
Over the years of practice I have found it important to know my own limits and maintain clear boundaries in how much energy I disperse. I often remind myself to “give myself grace”. Some things take longer or don’t always get done. I like to make a daily list, and prioritize 3 tasks out of however long the list is. “It’s not a race, it’s a journey.” I stay in my own lane mentally and honor what feels right for me. I limit social media consumption, take brakes, and make sure I am well fed with supportive nutrition.
Outside of your practice, what do you do to balance your wellbeing?
I absolutely get acupuncture. It recalibrates me like nothing else does. I practice and teach Instinctive Meditation, and enjoy movement based exercises like dancing and yoga. Always enjoy healthy and flavorful meals. I love surf-skateboarding, bouldering, anything outdoors, gardening, writing, and making music playlists. Surrounding myself with positive friends and loving family is truly good medicine.