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  • Kristin McNealus, DPT, MBA

Help! I Don't Like My PT

There are a number of reasons why you may not like your physical therapist. Personalities may not gel. Maybe you do not like the treatments the therapist is having you do. Or perhaps you do not think your therapist is helping you as much as you expected. This is not a fun situation, right? You know you need to have physical therapy, and depending on your health care coverage you may not have many options of therapists who are contracted with your insurance. So what do you do?

First, have a conversation with the therapist. If it is a personality conflict, this can be difficult to talk through. Just be honest and ask if there are any other therapists who you could work with to “explore other styles.” You could always talk to the supervisor, but talking directly to your therapist first will minimize awkwardness.

If you do not enjoy the treatments, tell your therapist. PT is not likely to be a party, but if it feels like a chore, you are less likely to stick with it to achieve your goals. Your therapist wants to help you reach your goals, so finding alternative treatment options would behoove both of you. S

ometimes therapists get into a rut when they treat the same diagnosis for years, and challenging them to get creative with you might throw them off initially, but more often then not, they will secretly be excited to mix it up. I should mention that some treatments are decided based on insurance reimbursement. I have written other pieces about the bind some clinics are in because coverage is constantly getting cut and more hoops to jump through are added. You might consider asking if this is impacting your treatment plan.

Lastly, if you do not think your therapist is helping you as much as you were expecting, start asking questions. Ask the therapist to explain how the treatment plan was developed and why you are doing each exercise or modality. Ask how you can expect to progress to more challenging activities. There may be a difference between your expectations and realistic progress. Be open to that. Your therapist may not realize that you are willing and able to be challenged more. Before you change therapists, see if you two can get on the same page. If you continue to disagree, feel free to ask for a second opinion.

Remember, this is YOUR physical therapy. Unfortunately, the way the insurance system is set up, you do not have a great deal of leverage for any therapist to be swayed by you taking your business to another clinic, but the majority do want to provide good care and good customer service. If a therapist does not know you are not pleased with the service, s/he will not change.

By all means, if you still do not like your therapist after talking to him/her, change therapists or clinic. Lastly, if you think your therapist is involved in any sort of insurance fraud with your case, report it.

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