Having been a physio for over 20 years I have met some amazing, knowledgeable, caring and compassionate therapists… but also many that are not. In this short blog I want to highlight the most common traits of these bad therapists so you dont get stuck with them!
But first a word of warning! If you are a therapist reading this and you begin to feel a bit angry or agitated, then you may want to ask yourself why? Is it perhaps some of these traits are uncomfortably familiar?
Let me also make it crystal clear that I am addressing all the professions here… physios, osteos, chiros, sports therapist, soft tissue therapists, reiki healers etc, I refer to all therapies equally and cast them all under the same scrutiny, in equal measure.
So without further ado, let’s get started and look at the 10 worst types of therapist…
No 1: The ‘my therapy is better than your therapy’ Therapist
Like it or not, there is a hidden, and sometimes not so hidden, hierarchal war between the therapy professions that makes ‘Game of Thrones’ look like a child’s nursery rhyme. Many therapists can often be heard slagging off other professions, claiming that the way they have been trained is far more superior and far more ‘sciencey’ than the others.
These egotistical wassocks often pontificate about how their methods and approaches are more effective in getting people better faster or easier than others, and how because their profession was established in 1463 and have a royal charter or decree that they are the best profession is utter bullshit!
No therapy can claim any moral high ground or superiority over any other. All have their differences, all have their merits, all have their embarrassments.
No 2: The ‘latest fad’ Therapist
Fluorescent coloured stretchy tape, metal massage tools, electro acupuncture, laser guided cupping… you name it these therapists will claim it is the best thing ever and that it is the most effective, useful, wonderful treatment ever… until next month when the next sparkly gimmick comes along!
These therapists will often jump from fad to fad, buying the gimmicks and gadgets, asking patients to buy the gimmicks and gadgets, usually from them, and at a hefty profitable mark up.
But more importantly, these therapist will lose sight of what they should be doing with their patients. Giving simple honest advice reassurance and progressive movements and exercise.
No 3: The ‘guru’ Therapist
Eloquent, confident, witty, and usually good looking, the ‘guru’ therapist is able to enthrall and dazzle audiences with their charisma and charm. They show therapists the errors of their ways and how they have been doing it all wrong for so long, and how if they do it their way it will be better.
The guru therapist has a slick persona and a slicker marketing campaign that quickly develops a loyal following of disciples and sycophants who hang off every word they say. They reject and attack any critic or skeptic of the guru as disrespectful or unprofessional and refuse to debate with any impertinent up start who has any opposing views.
The ‘guru’ therapist will also have many anecdotal stories, pictures and videos of amazing instant results and improvements, they may even do live demonstrations of these impressive feats during their courses ‘shows’ and book launches.
However, what they won’t show you is any independent peer reviewed evidence or be able to explain why these methods are not repeatable in other situations/environments, blaming the therapists for doing their treatments or method incorrectly.
No 4: The ‘celebrity’ Therapist
More concerned with WHO they treat rather than HOW they treat, the celebrity therapist will attempt to prove their worth and credentials by displaying photos of them standing next to, shaking hands with, hugging, or treating a sporting, tv, or social media ‘celebrity’.
The celebrity therapist will boast about their status and their famous clients as often as they can, claiming that they were hand picked to support the celebrity due to their reputation or skill set, when in fact it is usually due to a random coincidence, or a friend of a friend pulling a few strings to get them connected.
No 5: The ‘I’ve got more qualifications than you’ Therapist
These therapists are easy to spot, they are the ones who always place the full 26 letters after their name on all their social media profiles, emails, and letter heads eg Dr A Noying BSc (hons), MSc, PhD, MACP, SRP, CSP, CSCS, NASA, ASAP, PDQ, JLS, DFS… FFS!
These shunt funters think these letter are like war medals to be displayed like medals of honour, and they also tend to go to great lengths to introduce themselves by their full list of titles and qualifications when you meet them, telling you very quickly which university they are associated with, and will soon ask you for your affiliations and qualifications to decide if it’s worth talking to you any further.
No 6: The ‘I’ve got more experience than you’ Therapist
These therapists have been around since the dawn of time. They are the dinosaurs of the profession. They can be spotted by the forlorn look in their eyes, the twisted and gnarled fingers from years of massage and manipulation, and can often be seen flicking through the pension investors handbook.
Although wise and wizened after years of dealing with people most are now hopelessly out of touch with current evidence and practice, having long ago given up bothering to read anything remotely scientific and having become increasingly tired of the constant change in practice and methods.
These matriarchs think the profession is on a merry-go-round and if they stay still long enough it won’t be long before what they have always done comes back into vogue. They are now quick to crush new ideas and thinking as youthful exuberance and inexperience and instead insist younger therapists trust their years of experience rather than current research or evidence.
No 7: The ‘can’t be bothered’ Therapist
The lazy, apathetic therapists are easy to spot, they happily give out advice and education to patients on lifestyle and exercise left, right and centre, yet its clearly obvious they do not follow their own advice. They are the ‘do as I say, not do as I do’ therapists.
These couch potatoes are quick to tell patients do more exercise, get fitter or stronger yet haven’t run to the end of their own street or lifted anything remotely heavy in years. They will often ask patients to do things that they would or could never do.
No 8: The ‘functional movement’ Therapist
These therapists are also easy to spot, they will be wearing minimalist shoes, or even worse walking about in bare feet, carrying a copy of ‘Become a Supple Leopard’ and tend to say ‘optimal kinematics’ in every other sentence.
These are the disciples of Functional Patterns, Applied Functional Science, FMS and GOATA. They insist all the see must do backward lunges with trunk rotation and a contralateral shoulder driver, usually with their top off and in a blackened room.
The functional movement therapist has no time for effective frivolous nonsense like squats, deadlifts or shoulder presses, instead they work on grids, with cable machines, indian clubs and voodoo bands. They also have no time for any exercise that involves standing on two legs or on a stable surface…. If you ain’t standing on one leg, on a bosu, whilst waving a mace… you just ain’t moving functional bro!
No 9: The ‘alternative’ Therapist
These therapists are often seen munching on some vegan lentil soya bean salad whilst discussing how their chakra is a little off centre due to some misalignment in the planets this week. They will consult the horoscopes and astrology charts rather than research journals, and have an array of strange shaped rocks and lumps of coloured glass on their desks that they wave over their patients preferring to work on auras and energy fields rather than muscles and joints
They will also constantly talk about mystical energy and life forces that flows through all of us, yet have absolutely no idea who Obi Wan Kenobi is or understand you when you tell them “these are not the droids you are looking for”
No 10: The ‘greedy’ Therapist
I saved the worst type of therapist for last. The profit driven money grabbing therapist. These therapists are more interested in patients bank balances than their heath and wellbeing! They focus on patient retention and are more interested in cross sales than the outcome.
They motto is a patient cured is a customer lost.
Don’t get me wrong I am all for therapists earning a good income and being paid well for their expertise, knowledge and professional services, but there are some therapists out there who have NOT got their moral compasses set straight.
These therapists scumbags will often get patients to sign up to expensive, extended treatment plans, requiring multiple visits, by instilling fear and selling sickness. They feed on vulnerable peoples trust and get them to buy into what ever pseudo scientific bullshit they are pedalling in a belief that it is fixing or curing them.
They will also ensure patients have brought orthotics, tape, braces, foam rollers and any other add ons that they can push onto the poor patient regardless if they need them or not.
They advertise their services anywhere and everywhere, rather than rely on word of mouth, as they have none. They are usually in collaboration or partnership with other likeminded businesses scumbags and all tend to promote each other and form groups that self-feed referrals and so more profit for each other. These are the worst type of therapists and need to be pushed out of the profession.
So there you go, that’s my quick look at some of the traits of some of the worst types of therapists I know. Now, if you do recognise a few things here in yourself, dont panic, as recognition is the first step to change!
Thanks for reading