How healthy is your client-therapist relationship?
What do you expect from your therapist? Or should I ask: “What should you expect?” By this, I don’t mean simply value for money or clean towels.
I remember writing an assignment in the third year of my degree on that subject which highlighted such attributes as confidentiality and professionalism, but, of course, I have since come to understand so much more in this regard.
There are clearly many qualities that help create a good client-therapist relationship. Here are just a few that I have come to appreciate in my years of practise:
- Knowledge and Experience
Let’s look at those qualities in a little more detail.
Is your health and well-being genuinely important to your therapist or are you simply another booking or name in the appointment diary?
Does your therapist know you personally or do they treat you somewhat impersonally? For example, does your therapist remember your name, your sport, your occupation, your background and circumstances?
Does he listen to your concerns and do you feel heard? Is he focused on you throughout your appointment or easily distracted, perhaps even checking his mobile?
Does your therapist have a caring outlook towards your treatment? Can he put himself in your shoes or does he appear to have little understanding of the feelings, frustrations and discomfort that you may be experiencing? Does he speak positively about your goals and aspirations?
Remember, a simple academic understanding of your injury or condition is very different to an empathetic understanding.
We all know how important it is to have an honest builder work on our home, or an honest mechanic work on our car. So, how important is it when it comes to our body? Is there an audible ‘sharp intake of breath’ when we present with an injury and a suggestion of long-term bookings being advisable or necessary? Or does our therapist try to honestly gauge the number and length of sessions we need?
Experience and Knowledge
As a whole, the sports-therapy industry in the UK is, sadly, unregulated. So, how can we be certain that our therapist is adequately qualified and experienced to treat our specific condition? Why not ask? Sports therapy qualifications vary enormously when it comes to the level of knowledge and experience required.
Does your therapist belong to any regulatory body? Most of these require their members to participate in regular continued professional development, hold an appropriate first-aid certification, and to be fully qualified and insured for ALL the treatments they offer to clients.
So, how does your client-therapist relationship weigh up in these regards? What should you consider doing if you feel unhappy or dissatisfied with that relationship? Ultimately, that is your choice, but in an age when we are encouraged to consider switching banks or utility provider if we are not satisfied with the level of service, it may be at least worth evaluating our current provider of personal health care.
Ed Clark BSc (Hons) is a Sports Rehabilitation Therapist practising in Penrith, Cumbria.