Lost A Sale, But Initial Phone Consultations — A Big Part Of Brilliant Customer Service
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More Chiropractors Required
An intriguing study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine examines how "chiropractic care affects use of primary care physician (PCP) services."
Practicing with Authenticity
To extrapolate from the above quote, patients love healthcare providers they can trust. One way to earn the trust of your patients is by practicing with authenticity. What does that mean, exactly?
Dorsiflexion Dysfunction: Evaluation & Manipulation Techniques
Almost every condition from the foot to the hip can be attributed to the inability to dorsiflex the ankle mortice and other joints that participate in dorsiflexion. Let's start by understanding normal versus abnormal dorsiflexion.
The Short Leg Dilemma
When evaluating a new patient, it is common to note a relative shortening of one leg to the other. Some patients will even tell you they have one, and then pull out the store-bought heel lift they read about online.
The Zen Art of "One Point"
We were always told in our Zen Shiatsu training (by Japanese and Japanese American instructors) that our ultimate aim was to to find that "One Point." To be so focused we could touch just one point to transform Qi throughout a client's body.
Help: A Need at Every Level
One of the great gifts of training in acupuncture is the ability to take good care of oneself. I recently had a bout of frozen shoulder — an inflammatory syndrome which can be debilitatingly painful and take years to resolve.
Modernization of Chinese Medicine
Language – written, spoken, signed, or otherwise is learned as a means to express our individualized perceptions about the world around us. Language is designed to communicate our personal experiences.
The Food Conversation: Nutrition and Your Practice
It's morning and your first patient rolls in with a triple espresso steaming in one hand and a frazzled, desperate look in her eye. "You gotta help me, doc, I am constipated unless I drink one of these, and I am exhausted and anxious all the time."
Getting a YES: An Effective Strategy for Overcoming Patient Objections
Patients make more excuses for declining care from an acupuncturist than perhaps any other type of doctor. Various reasons hold them back from making a commitment to care.
Acupuncture Rising: From Acupuncture Anesthesia to Assisted-IVF, Part 1
Acupuncture's cultural and historical roots go back to the emergence of Chinese civilization. For more than 2,000 years, acupuncture needling has been continuously practiced on the largest population in the world.
News in Brief
Call for Abstracts Announced - Parker Las Vegas 2016; Logan Adds Doctorate Degree; New Role for Dr. James Edwards.
What's Chiropractic Research Worth to You?
The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (PCCR), in celebration of its 20th anniversary, has announced it is spearheading a fundraising campaign to support chiropractic research.
Harvard Health References Flawed AHA Position Paper
In its special health report, "Stroke: Diagnosing, Treating, and Recovering From a 'Brain Attack,'" Harvard Health Publications includes information from the American Heart Association's 2014 position statement on cervical manipulation and cervical dissection – a statement the American Chiropractic Association emphasized in a letter to Harvard Health mixes "scientific facts with half-truths."
Surprising Reasons for Orthotic Efficacy
Clinical outcome studies show orthotics are effective in the management of a wide range of injuries, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis and patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Nuts Reduce Risk of Heart Disease, Cancer and Other Health Problems
Several recent studies suggest regular consumption of nuts may provide a significant degree of protection against certain types of cancer, heart disease, possibly type 2 diabetes and some neurodegenerative diseases.
An Acupuncturist's View of Medicinal Marijuana
The use of cannabis for medical purposes is very controversial. Use as a panacea by physicians uninitiated to the proper application of herbal medicine, as well as an excuse for recreational use have greatly confused the issue.
Patient-Centered Care vs. Payer Restrictions: Your Ethical Obligation
Do you have an ethical obligation to evaluate your patients, make a diagnosis and provide evidence-based, patient-centered health care, irrelevant to the payer restrictions?
Practice Policy (Gone Bad): The Sign
Every once in a while, you see something and think to yourself, That's a really bad idea. Case in point: I went to see my medical doctor the other day. Just after being "roomed," as they say, the nurse checked my vital signs. Then she left.
Do Some Good and Grow Your Business with Cause Marketing
Cause marketing is truly one of the best ways that you can promote your services as a acupuncture professional. Cause marketing refers to a type of marketing where a business partners with a non-profit organization to help bring awareness to a charitable cause.
Change Lives by Supporting Chiropractic Research: Are You In?
The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (PCCR), in celebration of its 20th anniversary, has announced it is spearheading a fund-raising campaign to support chiropractic research.
A Chiropractor's Guide to Yoga
"Doctor, can I continue to do yoga while undergoing your care?" "Is it OK for me to go back to yoga while I'm getting my back treated?" "It is safe to start my yoga classes again after my neck pain improves?"
Fish Oil: A Key Component of Positive Clinical Outcomes
Patients seem to be presenting with more complex problems, and many are responding to care more slowly or have completely unexpected results. Why?
Improving Communication Between AOM and Biomedical Providers
How comfortable do you feel talking to Western medical providers? If you are like me, you may not feel as comfortable as you would like. Some of my interactions with MD's haven't been the fruitful steps toward integrative medicine for which I had hoped.
Fertility and Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Starting or expanding one's family is a major milestone. It's something that more and more people seek out health care advice and support for.
Oriental Medicine on the World Stage
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." This simple, yet powerful statement was lived out time and time again by so many of the athletes from around the world during the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
The New Age of Communication
In the age of technology, everyone, including the patient, is seeking faster, easier ways to communicate. With a wealth of social media, blogs, websites and videos, we are constantly barraged with information – to the point of overload.
Healing Trauma: Cultivating Resilience and Presence Through Mindfulness, Part 2
In the last issue of Acupuncture Today, the first part of this article introduced the topic of trauma and resilience, and their relationship to the autonomic nervous system response and the concept of the spirit being grounded in the body, and suggested the importance of mindfulness as a tool for healing.
July, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 07
The Inside-Out Paradigm: The Intake Interview
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
"The appointment begins when the client makes the call."1 This phrase, spoken by Dr. Richard MacDonald, DO, 25 years ago, was a turning point in my comprehension of just how important the initial interview with a client is both over the phone and in the office.It is the beginning of a healing contract that might last for a few appointments or for many years. This article will detail the basics of what has served me to assist my clients.
Over the 31 years of my clinical massage therapy practice specializing in chronic ailments, the problems that clients present are increasingly complex, layered and continue to inspire me to explore the "many dimensions of healing." To date, I still do all of my telephone interviews with prospective clients.
Initially, I seek to gather information about how committed they are to their healing, whether we are beginning with a third person trust based on a personal or professional referral or not. In addition, whether they have ever felt injured or misunderstood by other health related practitioners.
The emotionality conveyed by the tone of their voice generally is my best guide. When their voice tone is loud, demanding or commanding, I often ask whether they are scared, hearing impaired, or have been mistreated by other health related practitioners. I give them a chance to start over. I endeavor to keep this initial call to 10 -20 minutes. I give myself permission to encourage that they see a physician before seeing me, if they haven't already. I often refer prospective clients to other alternative health practitioners.
People committed to their healing consistently inquire first about your confidence to assist them and will add additional special circumstances and needs second, once they have established whether or not they sense you have the competence and experience to help them.
When prospective clients place their initial emphasis on money or time convenience for them, this is a flag to me that they are wanting professional care, but only if it meets their conditions. When someone calls to make an appointment for someone else, another flag goes up. Yes, there truly are people that busy, including me at times, but it stills says something about how they run their life including how they drive themselves. I typically book the appointment with the caveat that the named client will call me before the appointment so I may personally interview them.
When a client is looking for a named style of massage or bodywork, I ask them to describe their ongoing difficulties. The nature of what I do along the continuum of bodywork skills has become rather broad such that it no longer fits a specific label. When they ask me whether I have ever worked with their polysyllabic medical difficulty, I am specifically honest as to whether I have or not. And, if not, I request that they educate me. This might seem paradoxical yet it demonstrates from the beginning that I am willing to learn from them. I want to create healing partnerships where they are the star character of their own movie. I'm the hired help.
The Key To The Interview
The key intention of the initial "office interview" is for me to engage the person fully as a human being as well as a practitioner. I endeavor to gather a gestalt of how they see their problem and to assist their perception to include the internal functioning of their bodies and the potential influence of their mental habits and emotional fluctuations. This means I rarely listen to long stories anymore and correspondingly infer that I do not endeavor to convince them of anything. They have the choice to move forward, as do I.
When presented with a vague description of what is bothering them such as, "I have so little energy" or a more psychological inference such as anxiety or depression, I ask them an existential question, "what do you sense is your life purpose?" The turbulence related to identity consolidation in the midst of exquisite life transitions has an enormous influence on our human physiology. Examples of such transitions include the death of a loved one, a job loss, a relational break-up or a financial crisis, among many others.
When presented with a series of physical complaints, I often ask a layered question first. What have you been told about your problems, what do you believe is the root cause, and do you feel as though your mortality is threatened by it? This latter phrase is crucial to include because it flushes out people who really are scared that something has been missed in their medical care and that they might indeed be in serious trouble.
I ask questions to fit the person as I experience them. That is why I don't use standard written questionnaires. However, there is a philosophy and a method to how I ask questions. At the physical level, I seek to discover the earliest sign or symptom that has the longest history as this has assisted me most often to unravel what is happening within their physiology, accreted trauma or might be an indicator of a genetic link or deficit/defect. At the cognitive level, my job is to assist them to connect the dots between the events of their lives and to unhook from the ones that are acting as a drag on their healing. Assisting clients to find their way toward acceptance and/or forgiveness is still a higher octave of our work. We are all challenged to reconcile the difficult transitions of our lives. And, by assisting clients to connect the dots within their lives empowers their capacity to prevent future difficulties.
The following 10 questions and their time line will often trigger a light bulb for them, as well as myself:
Just yesterday, a prospective client with an identified aortic valve regurgitation responded to the flu question by saying that when he does have the flu it was most often of a respiratory variety and that it would last a week to ten days. He had not made the connection between his valvular regurgitation and how this might have extended his illnesses in the past. Such subtle yet revealing information allowed me to orient my skills to relieve the pressure within his chest to allow his heart more ease to do its crucial job.
Interspersed with, or following these questions, I go through the history of their organ systems quickly to ascertain any dysfunction or repetition of illnesses in their lives. I also will ask the same question in a different way if I instinctively am drawn to it. With a recent client who came to me with a rare form of cancer, we had identified that notwithstanding the official diagnosis, she had the beginnings of diabetes that once confirmed by her internist, has begun to radically change her life for the better. Improving a client's quality of life is perhaps our profession's highest service.
Another key to an effective interview is to personalize it. Be more vulnerable than your client.3 Invite a healing contract and define what this means to you while altering your language to include their sense of such a contract. Accept that they will not be able to give you a complete physical history because much of it has been compartmentalized or repressed. During your first appointment, the real opportunity is for both you and your client to decide whether you wish to move forward working together.
People have a tendency to get sick or to injure themselves as a way for their physiology to discharge its excess tension and thereby to rebalance itself. When a client reports a pristine medical history without either, I become quite curious. Typically, there is something they have forgotten or repressed which eventually comes to light over a series of sessions. And occasionally, what emerges is that they have had severe allergic reactions to one thing or another. Again, this is when I refer clients back to their physicians.
Part of our role as massage therapists is to be part of our clients' early detection team. The mathematical normal curve does allow for exceptional individuals to experience amazing health yet, as we age, the probabilities increasingly point to cardiopulmonary, cancer or orthopedic difficulties. In having followed my local newspaper for 15 years, the age of death so often occurs between 50 and 65, which is within the 40 - 70 demographic of those people who most often seek our care. We have a responsibility to assist them to discern those personal events which often signal something is amiss from the "inside-out."
Chronic ailments often have an accreted history involving multiple minor and major traumas underlying a recent physical event or might be the "canary in the coal mine" of the organ systems endeavoring to signal that something deep inside is in need of attention and care. Those chronic problems that seem to have no related physical event associated to their onset are the ones we need to be especially encouraging to our clients to seek consultation with their physicians.
The purpose of this column currently continues to be oriented toward assisting you to understand the "Waves of Aging," their most common origins, and their progressions that fly under the radar of typical medical detection, especially when clients present with chronic somatic ailments.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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