Apprenticeship in Five Element Acupuncture
"The journey of a lifetime"

  • All teaching by practitioners with15+ years experience.

  • Become part of our team of acupuncturists once you graduate. Build your practice with our support. 

  • Small class size - eight students maximum.

  • Qualify in two years, with a minimum of nine months treating patients so you graduate with confidence.


Our course has been validated by Balens Insurance and all graduates are eligible for professional indemnity insurance with Balens.

Next intake starts September 2020

Next open evening: Thursday 10th October, London W9

To book your place email:
or call 02071180920

Free e-course: The Magic of Five Element Acupuncture

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Who can be a Five Element Acupuncturist?

Here’s what you don’t need:

  • You don’t need an academic background. Our course is practical and modelled on an apprenticeship rather than a university degree. We only take on a maximum of 8 students at a time, so we can give personal guidance. You learn the practical skills you need, not how to write long essays about the history of acupuncture.

  • You don’t need a background in science. We teach you all the anatomy you need to find the acupuncture points. Anyone who’s dedicated can learn this.

  • You don’t need to know how to market yourself. Once you graduate, you will get the opportunity to be part of our practice and use the marketing system we’ve developed over the last 15 years.

But here’s what you do need:

  • A real desire to help people.

  • The right attitude. This means humility, self-awareness and the ability for self-reflection.

  • The ability to take responsibility for your own learning. We are there to support you every step of the way, but we can’t do the growth and learning for you.

  • Dedication to overcome challenges when they arise.

If you have these qualities, we can help you learn the rest. But without these qualities, no amount of teaching will get you there. 

The rewards for those who do become a Five Element Acupuncturist are enormous. Learning to become an instrument of healing is a path of transformation and personal growth. You emerge from the training a different person. And you get to witness the transformation in your patients' lives, as a result of your dedication. 

"The journey of a lifetime"

As seen in...

"The secret to more energy, balance and positivity"

"Writer Juliet Davey talks to 5 Element Acupuncturist Michael Arnold on how to renew your energy through connecting to seasonal change." Read this article.


"Your body is designed to reflect nature"

"Says acupuncturist Michael Arnold." Read this article.


"Soul heroes"

"Acupuncturist Michael Arnold is my choice. Michael shares my devotion to cure the root cause of a complaint and not just treat the symptom". Read this article


"Finally I'm a mum"

"When drugs didn't help her get pregnant, Amrit Theocharous, 39, from Enfield tried something more natural." Read this article

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"You won't regret it"

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Students from the 2018 intake

Students from the 2018 intake

How to enhance people’s lives every day, working 25 hours a week. Make more money than your current job, and have a waiting list, instead of wearing yourself ragged with a job that eats your soul

Hi my name is Michael Arnold. A woman came into my office, burst into tears and told me how ashamed she was at not being able to have children. Her sister has 3 kids and her sister in law is pregnant with their first. Grandma is all excited and they’re buying baby stuff “and I’m struggling with depression. I can’t even go to Starbucks because I just sit there and cry, looking at all the mothers and babies”

I started working with her and four months ago they had a beautiful baby boy. They sent me an email with pictures of their beaming new arrival.

And you know what the best part is: 

I get to do this every day.

I used to do research in a neuroscience laboratory. It was kind of glamorous and I got to tell people I was finding out about how the brain works, but really it left me cold sitting in a lab cutting up bits of brain when I knew I could be in the real world, helping real live people. 

It wasn’t until my best friend killed himself and I was plunged into despair that I discovered acupuncture. It helped me to come to terms with his death and rid me of the dreadful insomnia that came with it. But not only that it put me in touch with a part of myself I had almost forgotten existed. I remember thinking:

“Ok so this is what it should feel like to be alive!”

I was very lucky to find this amazing system called Five Element Acupuncture. It’s a very interesting story because Chairman Mao actually outlawed it.  He became very ill and and was treated by an acupuncturist, who basically saved his life. So he thought “Well maybe it’s got some merit”. So they stripped out all the spiritual aspects and standardised it and westernised it and exported it to the West. And that, by the way, is the acupuncture that the rest of the world knows about. 

Five Element Acupuncture is a living, vibrant system that recognises that the cause of most illness these days is due to a malaise of the spirit. We now have more physical and mental nourishment and sustenance and yet there is more illness in the world than ever before. The American Medical Association even recognises that 90% of all illness is caused by stress. We have forgotten how to truly connect with the most vital part of ourselves - our soul. 

I’ve now been teaching this wonderful system of acupuncture for over 10 years and the practitioners I helped to train are helping people with all kinds of problems from depression and anxiety, to migraines and fertility. From stressed out executives to pregnant mums there are so many people who can benefit. If you’re reading this now it’s likely acupuncture has touched your life in some way.

If you have a passion in life, A certain kind of person you want to help we can teach you how to do that. 

But here’s what’s even more interesting:

Those of you who don’t have business degrees might find this kind of boring but just so you know, we’ve set up a system where every £1 we spend on adverting results in £11 in the cash register. This is exceedingly rare and this is why we have waiting lists. This is why we are able to charge higher rates than other acupuncturists and work less and have meaningful lives and go on long holidays. 

I would love you to join our growing tribe of healers who aren’t begging the world to listen to them.

I’ve seen a lot of people struggle to maintain a busy practice simply because they don’t know how to market themselves. A recent survey found that less than half of all acupuncturists practicing in the UK make a full-time living from their acupuncture practice. 

I know for a fact that this is because most healers (including myself) have all kinds of stories going around in their heads like:

"It's not spiritual to charge for healing"


"Marketing is unethical and evil"

I used to believe that Marketing is just what big evil companies like Coca Cola did. But then I realised that if I'm marketing to people who are actively interested in what I have to offer and I'm offering them something life afirming that I believe in with my whole being, how can that be evil or unethical.

Anyway, the good news is I've spent the last 10 years developing an ethical marketing system that works. And now it's time to use it to help the practice of Five Element Acupuncture take off like a rocket!

We only take people we think are going to fit and we have an extensive application and screening process. But if it’s a fit and if you qualify I’d love to help you create a new life.

Our undergraduate programme is two years, with a third year of postgraduate mentoring. In this final year you get to treat on your own and earn money with patients we send your way. You also get ongoing supervision and mentoring to help you build your confidence and your skills.

What happens after I finish the training?

At the end of the three years, if the fit is right, you get to apply to become a member of our growing team of acupuncturists. We provide you with a steady stream of patients and with ongoing mentoring to help you grow as a practitioner.

"Becoming a Five Element Acupuncturist has had a massively profound effect on my entire life. It's way more than a job or, in my opinion, an 'occupation'. It's almost like you are learning (or re-learning) an entire way of 'being' which simultaneously brings great benefits to both yourself and your patients."

- Richard Brook, Five Element Acupuncturist

Full course details

Next Intake Starts September 2020

The class time is every Monday during term times 9.00am - 6.00pm.

There is also an additional 10 - 15 hours per week home study time needed. There is a two week break for Christmas and Easter and a month off in Summer.

There are three parts to the course. 

  • Classroom stage

  • Clinical stage

  • Postgraduate stage

Each part must be passed in order to continue to the next stage.

Year 1 - Classroom stage:

The first year is the ‘classroom’ stage, where the students learn all the theory they need to know in order to go into the second clinical phase.

There are three main modules in this stage:

  • Theory

  • Practical (learning how to locate the acupuncture points, take pulses, undertake a physical examination, needling etc)

  • Patient/practitioner relationship (learning how to gain rapport with patients and how to examine them in order to find out how they would like help and in order to make a diagnosis and treat them).

The classroom stage is 48 days, giving around 340 contact hours in school. We also require students to undertake around 10-15 hours of study at home each week, so as we teach one day a week by the time they have completed this part of the course they should have done between 480 to 720 hours a week of personal study. There are examinations in all three modules at the end of this phase, which must be passed in order to enter into the clinical phase. 

Gabriella and Michael do all of the teaching and are almost always both present in class. We only take on a maximum of 8 students per year so you get a 1-4 student to teacher ratio. This is vital for ensuring you get personalised feedback on your understanding of the theory and your clinical skills.

Year 2 - Clinical stage

The clinical stage is the second part of the course, and is where students treat their own patients under supervision.

This phase is 34 weeks of one clinical day a week. Clinical days are often 10 hours long so this also gives approximately 340 hours of contact time. Students will start treating just one patient a week, and gradually the number increases so by the end of their clinical time they might typically be performing 4 to 6 treatments a week.

We require a minimum of 50 treatments in order to pass, but in reality students usually undertake more like 60 to 80 treatments over this time. They also observe their classmates treating patients. Over the course of the clinical time, we assess the students weekly in terms of their proficiency. Once we are satisfied they have reached a competent level in each skill, we allow them to undertake that unsupervised, so by the end of clinical our level of supervision is minimal, allowing the student to gain confidence and independence.

Upon satisfactory complete of stage 2 our students are awarded their Licentiate in Acupuncture. This allows they to apply for practice in insurance and to apply to become part of our team of acupuncturists.

Year 3 - Postgraduate stage

The final phase is post-graduate. We include this as part of our course, although our students receive a qualification and licence to practice at the end of the clinical phase. We've seen a lot of practitioners drop out of practice because they didn't get the support in building their practice and their confidence. When you’re used to getting feedback from the tutors on hand it can be daunting to go out and set up by yourself. We made the postgraduate stage a mandatory part of the course, to give practitioners the vital support they need early in practice.

The postgraduate stage consists of 1 day per month for 12 months. Graduate practitioners may bring their own patients for treatment on these days, and have input from us as to diagnosis or whether they have missed something that has stood in the way of their patient achieving results they’d anticipated. We go over theory and any areas they are finding challenging. We also cover advanced point location and pulse taking skills. 

Becoming part of the team

At the end of the clinical stage of the course, successful graduates also get the opportunity to apply to become a member of our team of acupuncturists. Team members receive patient referrals from our marketing system and ongoing mentoring and support to help them build their practice.

We can’t guarantee how quickly you’ll build your practice, but if you’re as committed to Five Element Acupuncture as we are, we are happy to guide you step by step on the path to mastery.


£16,500 spread over up to 28 month
£15,500 if paid in full in advance

“All I can say is ‘Wow!’”

"All I can say is ‘wow!’ Discovering five element acupuncture especially working with Michael has had the most beneficial effect on my life. I feel centred, grounded and ready to take on anything that comes my way. I really do appreciate the work you do Michael, I’m sleeping better and also have a found a deeper sense of Joy since working with you, Thank you!”

– Mark Collin

Return to simplicity

These days almost every acupuncture training in the UK lasts 3 – 4 years and contains mountains of essay writing, western medicine and research methods. The vast majority of this is not necessary if you want to practice Five Element Acupuncture as it was originally intended.

Lose your mind and come to your senses

The power of Five Element Acupuncture comes from it’s rootedness in observation through the senses. You learn to diagnose by using your sense organs instead of your intellect. You do not need to gain vast amounts of knowledge. You simply need to relearn how to truly, see, hear, touch and smell the unique human being in front of you. You grow emotionally and spiritually and you learn how to become an “instrument of healing”. This is not something you can learn in a book. You can only learn through practical application and by working directly with patients.

Our course is the fastest way to get started in Five Element Acupuncture without cutting any corners.

It is also the only course in the UK to teach Five Element Acupuncture in the form that it was originally intended. This is the wonderful system of healing I fell in love with 19 years ago.

"Discovery of the power within"

"Gabriella Doran's great doings helped me restore my old strong self. Without the treatment I cannot imagine how my life would have been, Acupuncture is not an alternative medication, it is a discovery of the power within and who best to have the mastering skills to pull it out ..Gabriella indeed"

- Hana Yacoub

A True Story of
Life as an Acupuncturist

Sign up below to receive our 5 part email series, “A True Story of Life as an Acupuncturist”. This is the story of how a crisis led me to discover Five Element Acupuncture and how it changed my life. You'll also learn about the methods that allowed me to go from waiting tables to working full time as an acupuncturist.

About Michael Arnold

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Michael Arnold – Founder

19 years ago I was studying Neuroscience at University. I had it all mapped out – I was going to be a researcher in brain science. Discovering new and uncharted areas of human consciousness… but life had other plans for me.
That October my best friend James killed himself. The only thing that helped with the emotional turmoil and insomnia was Five Element Acupuncture. It helped me to find a peace and acceptance that I had never experienced before. I also realised that I wanted to help living people, directly. I didn’t want to cut up dead people’s brains in a laboratory.

When I started my training in acupuncture it was everything I hoped it would be. It challenged me mentally, emotionally and spiritually to grow as a person and to learn how to become an “instrument of healing”. James’ words came back to me:

“You’re not going to be a scientist Michael. You’re going to do something much more spiritual.” He could read me better than I knew myself.

One of my dreams has always been to set up an undergraduate Five Element Acupuncture course. So early this year, with the encouragement of a mentor of mine I decided to do just that. 

About Gabriella Doran

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Gabriella Doran – Tutor and course development advisor

After an initial training in art, specialising in theatre design, Gabriella lived in Asia for several years, where she ran her own highly successful jewellery manufacturing business. On her return to the UK she was treated with acupuncture, which she was surprised to find not only improved her health, but also provided invaluable support through a bereavement and period of major life changes. She was impressed and inspired by this simple yet profoundly effective form of medicine, and made the decision to study and become a practitioner in 2000.

Training and Experience

Teacher of Five Element Acupuncture: previously head of Second Year studies and Member of Faculty at LIFEA (London Institute of Five Element Acupuncture).

Licentiate in Acupuncture from London’s School of Five Element Acupuncture (SOFEA). This is an intensive 3-year training programme which included rigorous continual assessment and examinations, culminating in a years supervised training in clinic alongside internships in long-established practices with master practitioners.

Certified in Facial Revitalisation Acupuncture and Facial Revitalisation Massage and Acupressure, as taught by Virginia Doran the leading authority on Facial Rejuvenation acupuncture in the United States.

Tai Chi Practitioner and Teacher proficient in the Cheng Man Ching 37-posture Yang Short Form and Sword Form and teaching both forms, one to one.