Tuesday 7 February 2017

Honesty and Transparency as a Clinician

Potential clients may see this as a promise. Other clinicians may use this as marketing advice. To me, it's a personal message regarding my integrity.

So far, I would say that my practice as an Athletic Therapist has been successful in the short time that I've been working so far. The client stream has become steady, my patients have seen success, and most of those who walk through my door have been very satisfied with my services.

Notice that I say, "most". Admittedly, I cannot claim to have been successful in helping every single person who has sought me out for treatment.

There are those out there who would call me crazy to make this statement. They see it as a belittlement of my abilities as a practitioner and consider it damaging to my credibility to not be able to say that I can help anyone and everyone. However, let's be honest here. Can we really act on the belief that anyone is able to treat everyone?

The way I see it, we're not in an age where the public is willing to blindly listen to anyone with a degree. In fact, we're in an era where it's encouraged to constantly question and challenge authority and expertise. If people smell dishonesty from a professional, they will certainly act on their instincts.

I see the difference between the clinicians in this field in terms of acting on this information. Absolutely, there is a certain breed of therapists who will lie through their teeth about their confidence regarding knowledge of your injury and what needs to be done to remedy it. It would be incredibly easy for me to twist my words and make a client believe that I'm the expert on what's going on, even when I'm unsure, simply to have them return again and again for treatment.

"I prescribe you to foam roll. Every week. Under my supervision. Forever."

But, let's put it this way. Being a therapist and trying to establish a reputation nowadays is a lot like dating. You can be dishonest and massage your ego to get that one-night stand, or you be upfront and give it to someone straight in order to have a long-lasting relationship.

I can't see dishonesty with clients as anything short of unethical, and if I were to lie just to try to keep business, I could expect to see people catching on quite quickly and never coming back. In my experience, people have been extremely grateful when I'm honest and transparent with how I do business and my thoughts regarding their conditions:

"I've assessed your injury, and I think it's something out of my expertise. I'm going to refer you on to someone more suitable."

"I'm really not putting the pieces together here. Give me five minutes to check some references and do some research to see if we can figure out what's going on."

"I can't pretend to be 100% confident on what to do here, but let's try two treatments and see if we're finding benefit. If you're not feeling progress, I won't be insulted if you decide not to come back."

So far, those honest statements go a long way. Telling a client that I'm unsure about what ails them actually makes them more willing to come back due to the trust that I will continue to puzzle it out. Referring them on makes them confident that I'm looking out for their own wellbeing over my own and has resulted in them returning for different injuries later or even referring more business to me. Being honest about needing to check a source instills that you're being mindful and trying your gosh-darn hardest to help them.

With that said, I encourage all clinicians to be as forthcoming as possible with patients. Clients want honesty and results, and it is our job to provide. And to those clients, I advise you to find a practitioner who will deliver those qualities. The best-possible therapist for you is out there, and you absolutely deserve them.

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