nBiographyDavid A. Dawson, L.Ac.Zhu Da Header - D. A. Dawson, Ph.D., L.Ac.

Business & Office Information

David A. Dawson, Ph.D., L.Ac.



My office is in a quiet building in the middle of downtown Bloomington, IN, a half block south of the Courthouse Square (at Kirkwood Ave.; see map).

There is ample on-street, two-hour parking, as well as garage parking a half-block away. For those on bicycles, there is bicycle parking just up the street.

If you are coming down the hill from the Courthouse Sq. on College, look for the bike shop next to the alley on the right, then for the chocolate shop just beyond it. My office is upstairs just beyond the chocolate shop, at the back of the building.


My office is a relatively large space in a quiet,100-year-old building. I offer acupuncture, therapeutic massage (Tui Na), cupping and other tradition physical medicine, herbal consultations, and custom herbal formulas (as well as a small range of commercially prepared 'patent' formulas in pill form). I also suggest specific stretches and/or exercises from my training as an athlete and coach, and from Qi Gong, which is similar to yoga, but from the perspective of Chinese medicine.

To add further to the sense of comfort and well-being, the office is kept warm, and the treatment is performed on a heated massage table (with sheets and towels, not wax paper), with additional warmth as desired by means of a 'TDP' heat lamp.

My use of moxa is somewhat restricted, as the smell created by burning it is pervasive (some say it smells like pot), and may not appeal to my neighbors, with whom I share a heating and cooling system.

What is an 'acupuncture practice?'

Acupuncture is still not well-known in the Midwest. This is in stark contrast to Seattle, where there seemed to be an acupuncturist on every street corner. There, every time I told someone what I did for a living, the response was likely to be, 'Oh, yeah - my neighbor/brother-in-law/sister's girlfriend does that.' Here I'm faced with a blank slate ... if not a blank stare.

While acupuncture technically refers solely to the insertion of fine needles into points in the body to help balance the energy and support healing, it is also used as a general term that covers much more as well - including such things as massage, exercises, nutrition, and other practices such as cupping, gua sha, and so on. See the acupuncture webpage for a more complete discussion of what it is and how it works; see also other pages in the Medicine section for information about various other aspects of Chinese medicine.

Acupuncture, Chinese herbal teas and pills, and massage form the lion's share of what I do with my patients. But I have a range of other options in my bag of tricks, including cupping, moxa, topical (skin) applications of herbs, Qi Gong (similar to yoga, but from the perspective of Chinese medicine), nutritional and supplement guidance, and so on.

'Primum non Nocere'

'Primum non nocere' means 'First, do no harm.' It is the Latin translation of a phrase out of one of the early Greek medical texts written by Hippocrates (whose name is immortalized in the Hippocratic Oath, which doctors used to have to take). It is one of the guiding principles of good doctoring.

I am a gentle, conservative, and respectful practitioner. My treatments are intended to help the body to heal, rather than to make it heal. To that end, I draw upon all my training to offer the best support to my patients, whether that be guidance for nutrition or supplements, or exercises, or 'food for thought,' in addition to the acupuncture or herbs which are considered the backbone of Chinese medicine.

When I moved to Bloomington, I was surprised to discover that about half the people practicing professionally here were not state-licensed. This is not to suggest that they are less well-trained than I, nor that they can't do as well or better than I can in treating their patients, but I feel it implies a disregard for the principals of integrity, honesty, and good training. I do not by any means consider myself better for having gone through the national certification and state licensure programs - but I do think that they project a confidence in the quality of the training, and the value of the medicine, which I offer my patients.

The Right Diagnosis

The right diagnosis will lead the practitioner to the right treatment, and have the greatest effect in resolving a patient's imbalances. Finding an accurate diagnosis is for me a welcome challenge.

This means working toward a clear and nuanced understanding not only of what the symptoms are, but also why they are happening the way they are. It means looking at not only what the patient is currently experiencing, but also what the history of the condition is, what got it started, and what the constitutional strengths and weaknesses of the patient are. All these together give a detailed picture of the whole person and his or her healing processes, and whether they are working well (and if not, why not).

This is why we sometimes go over certain details with a fine-tooth comb, but the attention to detail pays off.

Philosophy and Goals

I believe that we live in a universe where small actions and choices can affect the whole: by treating the hand, I can change the balance of the lungs, or the lower back. By extension, I believe that by treating an individual person I am also contributing to the healing of the whole of life.

I am a small, cash-based healing arts practice, and thus I depend on income from my patients to meet my own obligations. Yet at the same time, I do not like the idea of turning away anyone in need. I have struggled to come up with ways to make my medicine available to all, regardless of their ability to pay (for more information, see the page on fees. These include sliding-scale arrangements, as well as special discounts.

I envision a time when I will not only have a traditional private practice, in which patients can be treated one or two at a time on an appointment basis, but also a less formal (see the Practice Introduction page for more detail), in which patients will be able to drop in for treatments at much lower cost, thus serving a broader range of the community.

Confidentiality and Privacy, and Patient Records

Confidentiality is a core part of my practice philosophy. Everything discussed, and everything recorded, as a result of establishing the doctor-patient relationship, becomes privileged.

My rationale with regard to confidentiality is this: I cannot know what information a particular patient might consider highly personal, and what they would consider unimportant banter. Therefore, I set the boundaries tightly, so as to protect any and all information that passes between us.

In keeping with this, I also consider it privileged information who my patients are. If you see me on the street, or at a restaurant, I will leave it to you to decide whether to greet me or not, lest you be required to answer in a way that you find uncomfortable the question from a companion, ‘how do you know him?’ If you greet me, on the other hand, I will definitely respond but I won’t initiate the conversation, and I won't take offense if you don't. Generally, this causes little difficulty, but it is only fair to let patients know ahead of time that this is my habit. 

Parents of minor children have the right to information concerning the diagnosis and treatment of that child, but in the unlikely event that a child asks me to keep a confidence, I will do so, where ethically possible.

Patient records are equally confidential, if not more so. No one except myself and the patient to whom the record pertains (the exception being the parent of a minor patient as described above) are permitted access to them, except by written permission of the patient, or his or her legal guadian. Copies of patient records (or a summary document) are available to the patient, and to whomever the patient designates in a signed release form, at a nominal cost. All medical records are released in the form of a printed paper copy, rather than electronically.

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