The importance of listening skills in physical therapy....
Hi All! I know, it's been a while hasn't it? But I swear I've been busy, who hasn't right?
Between work, the kids, and all of my vaguely questionable hobbies, I decided to undertake a little extra training. I'm proud to say that earlier this month I achieved a certificate in Counselling Skills.
Counselling Skills I hear you cry, what has that got to do with Sports Therapy? Well actually, quite a lot. No matter how we try to rationalise it, there's a few facts about human beings that as time goes on I find inescapable:
People with anxiety can experience higher levels of pain.
Increased stress frequently coincides with increased pain experiences.
Good health requires good quality sleep.
Adrenaline spikes can disrupt our sleep patterns.
Increased stress hormones can cause us to stay in 'fight or flight' mode.
That's just a few. Of course I could reference all of these statements, but as I barely have time to write this personal blog as it is, I'm not going to 🤣.
My point about all of these statements, is that we CANNOT ignore the obvious connections between our mental wellbeing and the impact of increased stress and anxiety on our physical health. The two go hand in hand.
I've been helping clients with physical problems for over a decade now, and I've seen a wide range of injuries and conditions.
But you know what I've also seen? A wider range of mental health issues, and not just amongst clients but amongst physical therapists too. Part of being a physical therapist includes listening to someone's symptoms, but it's more than that. It's listening to someone's story. It takes courage to talk about our problems and challenges, our fears and anxieties, our pain and past injuries, especially on meeting a new therapist as some of these come from traumatic experiences and can be hard to talk about.
As a therapist, at times we try to put ourselves in our client's shoes, especially during consult when trying to piece together how the injury may have happened or the circumstances surrounding it. We listen without judgement to client's anxieties, fears and frustrations. To their plans, dreams and excitement. This means therapists of all types are at risk of taking on too much during sessions. Learning the skill of listening, whilst protecting our own wellbeing, is something I feel anyone providing health services should undertake. Burnout really does happen, oftentimes when the health provider doesn't prioritise their own wellbeing. An empty cup can't quench anyone's thirst. So as health providers, we owe it to our clients to always be in the best possible frame of mind for sessions, which sometimes means caring for ourselves as much as we care for our clients.
My hope is always that my clients feel like the clinic is a safe space to talk. To talk and be heard by someone who genuinely cares about their wellbeing. Because I do. Which is why I felt it was important to update my listening skills with this course. It was just a starter course, but who knows where it might go, maybe in a decade I'll be a different kind of therapist, the jury's out.
Until the next update, just keep on trotting on...