motivating patients

Motivating Patients Without Feeling Fried

Trouble motivating Patients?

You are not alone in your struggle with motivating patients! Difficulty with patient compliance and motivation is one of the biggest concerns that I hear when talking with providers about burnout and things that zap their emotional strength. They wonder “is there a way to motivate patients without being the constant cheerleader or dishing out every last ounce of their own energy?”

The answer is YES!

In this article we are going to dive deep into the secrets of increasing patient engagement. I can sum it up for you like this. 

Treat the patient, not the disease.

Intrigued? Read on as I break down the do’s and don’ts of Motivation Made Simple.

Change the Conversation

Oftentimes when we meet a new patient, the first thing we ask is what’s wrong with them. “So, what brings you to therapy?”.

They launch into the story of their injury or illness, we glance sideways at the clock and feel ourselves slowly shift into shutdown mode. We take some measurements, complete the treatment and move onto the next client.

Instead, start a session by asking the patient what it is that really matters to them. What would they be doing if said injury or illness was not in the picture. Encourage them, in their own words, to connect with what it is that motivates them.

Are they an artist, do they enjoy fly fishing, juggling, or collecting antiques? 

Not only will you get the information you need, but you will see the person before you in a whole new light.

The Do’s and the Don’ts: Implement these changes today and be amazed

  • DO NOT say “so what brings you to therapy?
  • DO say “tell me a little bit about what you would like to be doing”
  • DO NOT ask question, after question, after question
  • DO reflect back to them what they just told you “being able to climb stairs so you can sit in the stands at your son’s baseball game sounds really important to you.”
  • DO use statements such as “tell me more about that.”
  • DO NOT over educate and debate
  • DO validate their feelings and re-direct back to their purpose. For example, “doing therapy after a total knee replacement can be a long and painful process and I know you are super committed to being able to walk during that trip to Europe with your wife this fall.”

Getting back to the basics

When asked why they went into healthcare, providers consistently report “to help others.” Yet, in the midst of overwhelm, lack of motivation and feeling disengaged from those very people we hope to help shows up time and time again. Utilizing these strategies to change the conversation helps to drum up internal motivation within the patient while simultaneously empowering you, as the provider, to connect with your purpose. Helping others regain function and get back to participating in those things that matter to them.

The tendency is for our expert hat to get in the way, we educate and we motivate in the best way that we know how. Yet, at the end of the day we are often left feeling unfulfilled, with patients who continue to lack the compliance and outcomes that we are looking for.

When it comes to motivating patients and staying motivated ourselves, getting back to the basics of WHY is crucial.

  • Why do we do what we do?
  • Why should our patients be motivated to keep moving forward when the going gets tough?

Having a real conversation about what really matters to them can help to re-ignite engagement in both the patients and the providers that goes far beyond knee range of motion or manual muscle test grades.

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