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The Doing of Chiropractic

doing-chiropractic.jpgIf you’ve been seduced by the widespread belief among many chiropractors that your purpose is to adjust patients, you’ve reduced yourself from a human being to a human doing. A meat computer. A carbon-based pneumatic device.

Your purpose isn’t to adjust patients. More likely, adjusting patients helps advance your purpose.

True, delivering adjustments, the “doing” of chiropractic, can be performed as a mere physical maneuver; a linear, biomechanical intervention. And often is. Even devoid of the principles of chiropractic and the intent of reconnecting “man the physical with man the spiritual,” chiropractic can still deliver results appreciated by patients.

Those who write off chiropractic philosophy as weird, unscientific and the dated rantings of Palmer cultists, fail to see that the metaphysics of chiropractic have been largely hijacked by the Chopra’s, Weil’s, Dyer’s and similar multi-millionaires. What mechanists are left with is the spinal therapy of chiropractic medicine.

With intention, quantum, attraction and other concepts entering the mainstream vernacular, mechanistic chiropractors often find their practices degenerating into fewer and fewer cases of headaches and back pain. With the insurance tide receding, they’re baking in the sun at the high tide watermark, partly because they were oblivious, neglected or purposely avoided communicating the philosophical aspect of practice when most patients generally had high payiing indemnity insurance policies.

This focus on the doing of chiropractic (follow the money) at the expense of chiropractic philosophy may be why so many chiropractors think their purpose is to adjust. And the more spines you adjust, the better chiropractor you are.

If you bought into that, you became a new patient-processing machine and probably had a good run. Granted, most patients are initially attracted to the idea of some relief-producing spinal therapy for drug-free symptom relief. But if you have any hope of creating and cultivating long-term relationships, it’s crucial that you give greater meaning and context to the adjustments you deliver by conveying chiropractic principles.

“Got you covered Bill. If they have subluxations I welcome anyone warmer that room temperature and use that opportunity as a springboard to explain the philosophical underpinnings of chiropractic.”

Excellent. Sounds great. And you may even talk a good talk with the standard issue above-down-inside-out-the-power-that-made-the-body-heals-the-body and other chiroisms. Patients nod. You assume you’ve fulfilled your duty. After all, during those early weeks of care after your report of findings, patients demonstrate perfect compliance. Only problem is, they regularly discontinue their care as soon as they feel better, you panic when the mail carrier is late because you’re still dependent on insurance companies, you rarely get new patient referrals with visceral or organic complaints and few parents bring their children in to be checked.

You may think you’re enlightening patients, but their actions suggest something else.

Thankfully, long before patients disappear without even a polite thank you and goodbye, you could ask a couple of key questions to see if your overtures are being heard, understood or embraced:


“What does a chiropractic adjustment do?”
“Who is the doctor in this relationship?”
“Who controls how quickly you recover?”
“How might chiropractic help someone with indigestion?”
“How might an infant benefit from chiropractic care?”
“Why do you think so many patients suffer a relapse?”
“Why might someone see their chiropractor once or twice a month?”

Ask them. If patients can correctly answer these, and questions like them, you’ve been effective at delivering intellectual adjustments while performing your physical adjustments. Congratulations. And my guess is you’re more immune to the economic winds and the other suspects that are being blamed for the contraction of many practices. Conversely, if the patients you’re shepherding can’t get a passing grade, there’s work to be done!

Comments (2)

Just when I think I am running on all cylinders in the office, I read your site and I find something I've forgotten (or didn't even know.)

When I have asked these questions in the past, it always surprises me how much credit people give the basic medical model, and that for some reason they have lumped chiropractors in this model too.

I don't blame them, but the re-education on who deserves the credit, the innate intelligence of the body to heal itself, an adjustment, or a pill and potion seems endless.

Looking forward to starting tomorrow off right.

Thanks Bill for another great post. Since using more socratic questions with my patient communications I have noticed a difference with my patient retention. Their understanding of chiropractic along with their thinking out side of the box has also improved. Thanks,

Todd P. Sullivan, DC

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From January 28, 2010 11:20 AM

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