What mental image might a person receive when you introduce yourself to them by saying “I am a physical therapist” (or massage therapist, or speech and language pathologist, or occupational therapist, or etc.)?
This short statement of identity may create a cascade of mental images to your audience (the potential client) which may influence your ability to work with them.
However, this image may have a detrimental effect on how you are able to impact others, from both the perspective of them as well as yourself.
This conversation began with a discussion I had with fellow CE provider Robert Gardner, regarding the suggestion that therapists “forget” that they are a Massage Therapist in order to see themselves as qualified and licensed to work beyond the “expected role”, or mental picture, of who they think they are.
Changing expectations is what I teach as part of my Foundations in Myofascial Release Seminar series and I have written about this in the past here. (Please note: for the sake of this discussion I refer to Massage Therapists, but the same holds true for PTs, OTs, and SLPs).
Myofascial release (MFR) is within the scope of practice of Massage Therapists, but is quite different from massage in many respects.
My version of MFR is done dry, with no lotions or oils.
It is typically performed with the client dressed in shorts and a tank top (or similar). Also, unlike most massage, one can and does spend long periods of time treating a small area of the body, with little need to treat all aspects, front and back.
I converted my mental image of myself from a PT, who typically works with exercise and heat/electrical modalities a few decades ago and have done a good job of altering client expectations even before they set foot in the doorway of my office.
I’ve done this conversion by constructing a website which does most of the work for me.
Check out the website for my private PT practice here to see what I am referring to.
I speak to the differences between how people may view PT in their minds and how I am different. I have a short “Sample Myofascial Release Session” available for potential clients to view, as well as photos throughout, which begin changing client’s expectations even before they contact me.
I distribute my New Patient Forms via a link from the website, which further educates the client. In short, my client comes reasonably prepared for the work I do, and my expectations for a session should nearly match their expectation.
Very few walk into my office wondering where all of the exercise equipment is hidden.
If you have trained with me or other instructors, how has your client education process changed?
Are you having difficulty with client conversions?
At the time of the first session, is it not the best time to educate your new client in the benefits of how your therapy is different from other Massage Therapists?
Not that it cannot be done, but why wait?
Think of all of the ways you reach your market; how do new clients find you? Use your website, brochures, business cards, and even word-of-mouth referrals to talk up how you are very different from other MTs…and with good reason. Give potential clients a “warning” that you do business different from the norm in massage therapy; but with great results.
If the Massage Therapist is to embrace myofascial release, expectations must change. It is within your scope of practice to use myofascial release (and similar) principles, but is it within your allowable expectations of yourself to do so?
Can you envision yourself in a different way?