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Conversations with Arlene Gillo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Arlene Gillo.

Arlene, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was a massage therapist when I realized that I loved helping people, learning about the body and then teaching what I had learned. I also taught massage therapy during that time. I simply loved everything I was doing. But eventually, I realized that massage therapy was limited in how I could help people, I wanted to do more. Coincidentally, an acquaintance told me that I should study Oriental medicine to become an acupuncturist. She had recently finished her degree in Oriental medicine.

I had no clue what an acupuncturist did. I had never heard of acupuncture before. That was over twenty years ago. Acupuncture was not as known or practiced then as it is today. As soon as I researched what entailed to be an acupuncturist, it didn’t take me long to enroll at Emperor’s College in Santa Monica. It felt right for me and I was excited.

Studying Oriental Medicine opened up a new world to me, a more energetic world which was acupuncture compared to the physical world which was massage therapy, at least that’s how I saw it. More importantly, it lead me to the path of self-discovery.

I remember in one of my first classes at Emperor’s, the instructor explained that “Qi” or energy was everywhere and in everything even a desk or a chair. And, it’s this “Qi” that an acupuncturist can affect with one single needle. How incredible was that?!! It was mind-blowing to me and knew that I was on the right path.

Fortunately, studying Oriental Medicine came easy for me, and I think it was because I enjoyed learning about it. There was a ton of new material to study and memorize but luckily, I was blessed with a great memory.

Finding a job as an acupuncturist was tough. It made graduating from school and passing the California acupuncture board, which was anxiety producing, easy. There weren’t many jobs available for an acupuncturist at that time. Thus, I continued to work as a massage therapist as I worked part-time as an acupuncturist either by renting space at a chiropractor’s office and then working at a pain management clinic. It took about five years before I found a place where I was able to be a full-time acupuncturist. It was about the same time when I got into animal acupuncture.

The universe has a funny way of reconnecting people. I say this because I had gone to New Mexico for a seminar where one of the attendees of the seminar was that same acquaintance who told me about Oriental medicine years before. Needless to say, it was a surprise for both of us. She told me that she had been working with dogs and cats doing acupuncture at a veterinary hospital. During the course of the weekend seminar, she had asked me if I were interested in learning and working with animals. Heck yeah, I was!! I loved both dogs and cats, and the thought of working with them was thrilling.

Learning how to do acupuncture on dogs and cats started a new journey for me. I studied a lot about their anatomy, medication, nutrition, etc. I loved everything about it because it was so interesting. Furthermore, I had so much fun just being with a dog or cat and chatting with its owner during an acupuncture visit. I learned a lot about the dog or cat by listening to and getting to know its owner.

After twenty years of working with people and fifteen years of working with animals, I am thankful that I still love what I’m doing and feel blessed of my success. It’s not only fulfilling and rewarding but it’s fun. Finally, it’s a wonderful balance to be able to work with people and pets. I’m sure there’s a new journey ahead for me but for now, this is my story.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My challenge came after graduating from Emperor’s College. As I mentioned, acupuncture wasn’t as common as it is now which meant that there weren’t many job opportunities for that work. So, it was difficult for me to believe that I could succeed working as an acupuncturist. But my perseverance to find any work where I could practice acupuncture lead me to where I am now. I literally had to remind myself that things were going to work out for me, and it eventually did.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Relax and know that everything will work out.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: Arlenegilloacupuncture
  • Twitter: @ArleneGillo
  • Yelp: Arlene Gillo, L.Ac.

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