If you were to visit a TCM practitioner with a specific complaint, the practitioner would assess your situation in its entire context.First, a typical TCM practitioner will gather data. She will listen to your story, as well as gather information from “nonverbal elements,” such as your demeanor, movement, voice, bodily sounds, and complexion. She will examine your tongue, take your pulse and temperature, and then feel your skin, muscle tone, internal organs, etc, as appropriate.

Your TCM provider is working under a set of diagnostic principles that strive to identify imbalance. This imbalance is made manifest by patterns of disharmony (known as bian zheng). An example of imbalance made manifest might be a insomnia.The TCM provider would look at the insomnia in a large context, seeking to find if this disharmony is caused by 

excess (like too much stress or activity) or deficiency (like lack of Qi & blood). Once the TCM practitioner has recognized the pattern of disharmony and made a diagnosis, she works with you to resolve the disharmony. The guiding treatment principle is to create harmony between yin and yang in the easiest and least invasive way possible without creating further disharmony.

In other words, the TCM practitioner seeks to remove what is excessive and to replenish what is deficient.

The focus is always on you, the patient, not the disease.  As a result, the treatment strategy is highly personalized, taking into account not only your condition,emotion, diet and lifestyle, but your family situation, community status, and environment.