6-12 people receive treatment in the same room. If you like the idea of relaxing with others, this is for you. And since acupuncture affects our qi, or energy, in addition to the physical body, many believe that the energy cultivated in group acupuncture settings can have a healing effect on its own.
Because the space is shared, your acupuncturist may only use points on areas of the body easily accessible in public. This is usually sufficient, but can be an issue with certain presentations and with clients who prefer to avoid even minimal public exposure.
Your acupuncturist will usually spend 10-15 minutes with you, depending on how many clients the clinic takes per hour. And you are encouraged to retain the needles for as long as you like. Community acupuncture is set up to provide needle-based treatments that are both simple and elegant.
Community acupuncture clinics like Brooklyn Open Acupuncture and Third RootCommunity Health Center (I practice at both of these) charge as little as $15 and $20 respectively for treatments in large communal rooms.
Community acupuncture clinics use a sliding scale. For example, BOA requests that clients use their own judgement to decide how much they pay; the scale is $15 to $40. At third Root, the scale is $20 to $40. Both of these clinics have a wealth of clients who pay at the top of the pay scale, making it possible for them sustainable provide treatments at the bottom of the pay scale.
This is social entrepreneurship at its best and proof that businesses that serve the social good do prosper. I myself use a sliding scale in my private practice. My sliding scale for private treatments starts where the community rates leave off.