I have worked with many clients who have seen physical therapists. Some have loved the experience and swear by their physical therapist. Some have hated it, claiming that it was ineffective. A while back, I started asking these clients what they thought of the physical therapist, themselves, and if that physical therapist took the time to tell them why they were doing the exercises or drills they were doing. Almost without exception, the clients who loved their physical therapy experience have said their therapist educated them. They can often begin to rattle off the structures and movements involved, as well as mechanisms of injury they are at particular risk for. The people who haven’t liked their physical therapy experience typically have a simpler answer when asked if their physical therapist educated them: “Nope.”
This informal surveying has really reinforced some of my core values as a massage therapist. It’s my belief that it is my responsibility to do the most good I possibly can for my clients. This goes well beyond what I do with my hands or coaching. It goes beyond knowing how to develop a massage session or a training program. Those are critical, but should be core components of all effective massage and personal training. I believe that doing the most good possible means educating and empowering my clients.
Hearing those clients talk about the physical therapy experiences they have liked, it’s clear that helping them realize results, while empowering them to maintain or reclaim these results on their own is key to earning their respect and their loyalty.
I think that some massage therapists, and maybe some personal trainers, might actually be hesitant to educate their clients for fear of giving away their “secrets,” and ending up competing with themselves. Many more, I think, just don’t put quite enough value on taking the time to educate their clients, and let it fall to the wayside. I’m guilty of allowing this to happen from time to time, myself. What I find is that when I’m not educating my clients, I’m not hearing as much positive feedback from them. Just yesterday, I had a client tell me that she’s been doing the home care that I’ve recommended, that it’s helping a lot, and she’s looking forward to our appointment next week!
That’s a perfect example of how educating and empowering our clients does not pit us against ourselves. Sure, if they are empowered to take care of themselves in between visits, they might need to see us a bit less frequently, but I’d rather have those extremely enthusiastic clients, who are going to be ritualistic in making and keeping appointments with me, than the clients I may see once a week for a couple weeks, and then never again. It has been great for the long-term growth of my business, but it also just makes me feel warm and fuzzy about helping someone help themselves!
So, reinforce that positive feedback loop in your practice, no matter what it is. “Teach a [wo]man to fish,” if you will. It will pay back dividends, in the long run, but I’ll bet you start seeing the benefits sooner than you realize – beginning with enrichment and fulfillment for you and your clients!