At yesterdays UBC Physiotherapy job fair I was asked this same question time and time again. I figured it might be a good idea to write it out and share!

I think the two emotions that I felt at the time were excitement and trepidation. Suddenly I was going to be doing the job I had wanted to do for so long, but I couldn’t help but question my own credibility and expertise. When I look back on that time (it wasn’t that long ago…), the best lesson I learnt was that our most powerful tool is our ability to connect and listen to the person in front of us. I didn’t need a degree or continuing education for that! This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be reading all the latest blogs, research articles and books, but it should be a reminder that by being yourself and caring you can have a huge impact on a lot of people.

Our primary goal with every new client should be to connect and have a truly deep understanding of why they are seeing you and what their goals are. If you understand this, the treatment and exercise selection become easy. Thankfully the body is resilient and will heal as long as we create a window of opportunity for it to flourish. If we show empathy and allow our clients to be heard, we have probably won more than 75% of the battle.

Here are seven other tips:

1. Connect, understand, reiterate, and then treat according to their needs and goals.
2. You know more than you think. Simple evidence based hands on treatment combined with 1-2 home movements, perhaps an hourly reset (see The Manual Therapist), and a little pain education will go an incredibly long way.
3. Reduce threat and educate.
4. Actually write out your clients goals and what is most meaningful to them. Continuously touch on how your actions will help them reach their goals.
5. Have fun and don’t worry if you don’t connect with everyone. Overtime you will build a case load of your “best mates.”
6. If you don’t know – tell your client – “After going through the assessment and chatting with you I am not 100% certain what the problem is; however, we are going to do this, this, and this, and I am going to follow up with my colleagues to ensure that when I see you next we have a clear strategy.” People appreciate honesty, if they don’t they probably aren’t the client for you! When you start practicing ask the senior therapists what they do when they don’t know.
7. Read explain pain. Almost everyone you see is coming to because they have pain. If you have a deep understanding of this it makes your life a heck of lot easier (ps – I am still working on how to best share and explain this knowledge with my clients #lifelonglearning).

You have a big summer ahead of you. Get clear on your “why”, read lots, and have confidence. It is an awesome ride! If you have more questions I am would love to connect. Hit me up via email ( or twitter!