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Dear Bill Open Office

emotional.jpgQ: "You’ve suggested it’s important for a doctor to be there emotionally for patients and that this can be done in an open adjusting setting. How can I keep a schedule and still be charitable? Can you reveal how you'd appreciate your chiropractor handling your emotional need/vent in this situation? What beliefs would you need to hold to keep your office patient-oriented and still be aware of business issues (time per patient, money per hour, etc.) if you were a chiropractor?"

A: Actually, I’ve suggested that it’s difficult for chiropractors to be available emotionally in an open adjusting setting. It just depends how open. Patients need to perceive that a private conversation can remain private. If “hot seats” are within earshot, many patients won’t lower their guard. You can use music or sound masking equipment, but they have limitations in cramped quarters. So, yes, it can be done, but it takes some effort.

Your use of language is revealing. Using the word “schedule” suggests that you may believe that being emotionally available (willing to nonjudgmentally listen) takes a lot of time. It depends upon how present you are with patients and how valuable you believe it is to tend to this aspect of a patient’s health. I think some chiropractors fear that they will be turned into counselors with every patient pouring their heart out. Some will, but most won’t. You’ll find ways to wrap up a conversation by changing your physical presence, standing up, breaking eye contact, etc. Expanding your practice into this area is a choice and has a cost/benefit ratio. It isn’t for everyone. It all goes back to clarifying how important this aspect of a patient’s health is to you.

Also, using the word “charitable” is fascinating. Are you doing the patient an undeserved favor or something? Are you surrendering something important to you (your time, your statistics, your income) for something less important (deeper connection, greater influence, better healing)? For your own peace of mind, you’ll want to clarify what you truly value.

The chiropractor I see works almost entirely in the emotional and spiritual domains. (I buy an hour of his time each week and we tackle the most important issues since the last visit.) Since that’s a totally foreign practice style to most chiropractors (and again, not for everyone), I’m not sure I can be of much help. He had to decide whether to move spines or go deeper, finding it difficult to work “both sides of the street” so-to-speak.

But the best answer to your question is that 1) I would want my chiropractor to express an authentic interest in my emotional state, 2) be an extraordinary listener, 3) if asked, offer some practical action steps to help me work through and resolve the issue at hand, which might include using N.E.T. (Neuro-Emotional Technique), teaching me how to use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), walking me through the Sedona Method or similar resources. Just listening doesn’t require any new skills other than truly listening and is something that most patients will be grateful for. (As a side note, when given the opportunity to express our feelings with words, most of us simultaneously recognize solutions to our situation!)

Finally, what beliefs would I need to hold? It does boil down to beliefs, doesn’t it? Here are 10 things I would want to believe are true if I were to create an opening in my practice for emotional healing:

Physical complaints are often expressions of suppressed emotional issues.
My office is a safe place to reveal the emotional aspects of one’s health.
Using language to express our feelings is the first step to self-healing.
Listening is much more than simply hearing.
I have a responsibility to be 100% present when I’m with patients.
I desire to show up empty enough to accommodate patients.
To be truly heard is one of the most powerful expressions of love.
I’m willing to honor each patient’s choice about expressing themselves.
I have office procedures and a team that “gets” the importance of this work.
I don’t have to “fix” the patient’s problem.

Congratulations on recognizing the importance of addressing emotional issues in your practice. Hope this has been helpful.

(Do you address emotions in your practice? Please share your insights by adding your comments below.)

Comments (2)

Dr. John Bueler, Jr.:

Brilliant Bill! I have found that most every piece of business wisdom, that actually works, has its roots in Proverbs or in biblical teaching. This doesnt necessarily stop current teachers from changing the verbage slightly and taking credit for the idea. :-) This will prove to be another enlightening series, Im sure. Thank you.

dr jeff:

I enjoy the outlook you have on this topic. I try to look at my office as a customer and not as a chiropractor. I think open adjusting is fine for those chiropractors who only adjust patients. But if you want to tap into the emotional part of healing I would be willing to say that most patients would not open up in these type of settings.

Keep up the good work.
Dr. Jeff

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From June 5, 2007 6:18 PM

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 5, 2007 6:18 PM.

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