Who is leading the conversation above? It's difficult to tell without any context. That's kind of how I want my therapy sessions to look like though. A dance, where sometimes I step in and take the lead, but also where I am receptive to my partner (the patient). Sometimes they need to take control. Those moments can be important in revealing key information. However, these vital opportunities are often withheld from patients.
I get it, healthcare providers are busy and need to keep a schedule. But I'm not okay with that coming at the expense of the patient's quality of care. At Team Sapiens Physical Therapy we make is a point to listen. Not just to reply, but to understand.
One of my biggest fears as a clinician is to leave a patient interaction, and have the person feel as if they are just another number.
Physical therapy is an alliance, between patient and provider. If one of the team members is made to feel subordinate or excluded, it’s not a method for success. (Notice how I didn't use 'recipe.' Originally I did, but don't like the association with a particular order of operations).
All three of us (Karen, Slavko, and I) have had the good/misfortune of also experiencing the other side of the coin, as patients. We know what it’s like to not be heard. To receive subpar care. We know what it’s like to be stuck in a system organized in a way that results in subpar care. So we created our own system.
Team Sapiens Brand of Care
If our name doesn’t make it obvious enough - we’re on team human. I’ve said it before: we treat people, not prescriptions.
Your physician’s prescription is a suggested starting point. It is duly noted, and respectfully put in our back pocket so as to create an environment where an unbiased, tailored approach can begin. That means listening to your problems and limitations. And gaining an understanding of what impact they have on your life. I can't get that from a piece of paper.
Until an understanding is reached, until both team members are on the same page, there is no point in doing anything really. The therapy team needs to gel if significant progress is to be made.
Method for Success
Going back to my caveat above, a method - in contrast to a recipe - is a framework rather than an order. It foster's consistency AND flexibility. Orders don't.
I started writing this post about a week ago. I've struggled to find the words to outline a framework for building a successful patient-provider relationship, rather than just saying it needs to happen.
And then, serendipity strikes again.
I'm currently reading a rock-climbing/psychology book (Vertical Mind) to step up my mental game when climbing. I've got goals to crush, bruh. And mental hurdles are often bigger than physical.
Anyway, this morning I started a chapter called "Co-Creative Coaching," hence the title of this post. So what is co-creative coaching? Let me give you an excerpt from the book:
"It is not a traditional coach-student relationship, but one where ideas are exchanged, experimented with, and possibly utilized to [move] better."
Move is my emphasis. In the book it says climb. Also, replace coach-student with patient-provider and that sounds like a pretty perfect definition of what physical therapy should be. I also think replacing patient-provider with coach-student wouldn't be a bad idea either.
Again, it's not enough just to define it - an effective relationship. The author's of the book, also provide an outline of prerequisites that must be met. And in a succinct way that I was unable to do. Here they are straight from the book:
Being receptive to feedback, positive or negative
Being attentive to your partner and trying to identify things for them to consider
Being sensitive when giving feedback
Avoiding being overly directive [commands vs suggestions]
All of these bullet points go both ways. Patient's shouldn't be afraid to give their clinicians feedback. And clinicians shouldn't be offended by suggestions and advice from patients. Personally, I welcome and encourage it as it helps me grow as a professional, and a communicator.
You've Got Options
It is your right, as a patient, to seek care where you see fit. Shop around. Find a provider that best suits you. If it's not me, that's okay.
But if you’ve ever been ignored or just made to feel like you didn’t matter in a doctor’s office - that s#!t stops here. I've got all the time in the world. We've set the company up in a way where we don't need to see a high volume of clients to make a decent living.
Our priority is quality over quantity and when you come for a session with us, you can talk as much (or as little) as you like. We'll adjust the pace of our dance to match yours. Either way, during that hour, we can ensure you will have our full attention. During your episode of care, we can ensure that you will be treated as an equal partner to help guide your healing.