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July 2011 Archives


Gone Fishing

Summer vacationI’m on the verge of doing something that I’ve never done before. I’m going to take a vacation.

That may not seem particularly earthshaking, but the so-called vacations that I’ve taken in the past have been largely working vacations. I toted along my laptop and used the new surroundings as an opportunity write and brainstorm. Perhaps more significantly, I’d use my Internet access to answer emails and generally keep an eye on things.

This time I’m cutting the cord. I’m going dark for 18 days. During those two and half weeks I intend to remain Internet-free. (I’m getting the shakes just thinking about it!)

Since 1994 or so when I got my first email account, I have been online. Oh, I might have dropped out of sight for a day or two while traveling to Australia or England, but never for two and a half weeks!

Cutting the cord and truly disengaging from “work” hasn’t been part of my experience. Partly, because I love what I do so much it’s hardly work. Yet, I realize that truly getting away from things can be beneficial. You know. The "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" thing.

Monday Morning Motivation will still go out like clockwork, patient education materials will still be recommended and shipped, chiropractic websites will still continue to attract new patients and educate established ones and chiropractic paperwork will still be personalized.

See you on the other side with renewed enthusiasm and probably some brand new ideas!


Monday Morning Motivation

Patients buy the messenger before they buy the message.

It's tempting to think that patients are persuaded by the words you use, your beautiful office or golden hands. But the fact is, they buy you first. Only then do you have any hope of conveying the principles of chiropractic in a meaningful, life-changing way.

Do you show up as you? Or are you acting, playing the part of being a doctor? Do you show up transparent, revealing your motives and biases? Can patients come alongside, or do they feel distanced by your "professional" detachment? Do patients sense they are with a facilitator or someone assuming superiority? Do patients feel physically and emotionally safe in your presence? Do you exude confidence and encourage vulnerability? Does being around you make them feel big?

It runs counter to what others teach, but showing up authentically you is the only place of lasting influence.

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How Do You Define These Chiropractic Terms?

definitionsWhile there is a movement among some to drum out the special language of chiropractic, I for one believe that one of the things that distinguishes chiropractic from other disciplines is its unique language.

We're in the midst of creating a patient education poster, which will offer the definitions of seven key chiropractic terms: innate, ease, tone, stress, subluxation, adjustment and health.


Monday Morning Motivation

What passes for patient education is far less effective patient teaching.

In an effort to change patient beliefs, many chiropractors unleash an aggressive patient education regime. Only problem is, it's actually patient teaching.

Teaching is outside-in. Education is inside-out. Big difference.

Most of us are skilled at resisting the self-serving outside-in overtures of others, whether a telemarketer, a commissioned salesperson or the guilt-laden pressure from a friend or loved one.

If you're inclined to change a patient's belief, realize that the ear raping at the X-ray view box or elsewhere actually benefits you more than them. If it seems to work it's because patients sense someone who is certain and confident. That's the compelling part—not the angles, foraminal occlusion or compromised curve!

Instead, be curious. Ask questions. True education is the result of new synapses formed by attempting to answer a question. Do you have a better explanation?

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Monday Morning Motivation

Abandoning an old belief is more likely from asking rather than telling.

Impose your beliefs and you'll face resistance. But come in under the radar by asking questions and you have a chance of overthrowing the status quo by creating the unsettling intellectual dissonance that is the necessary precursor to jettisoning an old belief.

Most patients are quite happy with their germ-fearing, symptom-treating, drug-taking notion of health. They're not looking for an "education."

So, ask more questions. A Socratic approach holds the greatest promise for disrupting the status quo and creating an opening. Find out how they think the drug "finds" a headache. Uncover the stress they think caused their subluxations. Discover their explanation of artificial immunization, fevers and countless other dimensions of their health experience.

The possible questions are endless--if you're curious about what patients believe. It'll be worth it. Because software (beliefs, conscious or otherwise) controls hardware (behaviors).

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation

18 days and no emailI’m happy to report that I didn’t do much during my 18 days away from the telephone and email. Which, after all, was the point. And since I do so much travel, a “staycation” seemed the most appealing. So, I caught up on some yard work, read nine books, took two long walks (10 miles and 16 miles) and nursed my garden after being almost decimated by hail. I did spend a day in Denver catching up at my favorite spots, The Tattered Cover bookstore in LoDo, the Denver Art Museum and the Natural History Museum. Before that, spent five glorious days with James and Gina Milliron from Yakima, driving to the top of Pikes Peak (elevation 14,110 feet) with Marilyn. But the two and a half weeks were mostly about slowing down, being off the grid and simply “being.”

I deeply appreciate Leslyn, Kim, Wayne, Heather and all the others who kept everything “between the curbs” while I was gone, however, between the stress of getting ready and the stress of plowing through hundreds of emails, it looks like I still have a thing or two to learn about how to take a vacation!

Dear Bill

Q: I’m wanting to take patient conversations away from their symptoms, but I find myself asking each patient “how are they” when they come into my room. Do you have any suggestions for alternative approaches to greeting the patient in a way that doesn’t open up discussions about their symptoms?

A: You make it sound as if knowing about a patient’s subjective evaluation of their health is a bad thing or something that should be avoided. Or, something to be discussed only after some other “higher purpose” topic.

I’ve heard this before. Usually from chiropractic consultants (or their clients) who have the mistaken notion that by not discussing a patient’s symptoms, it will somehow compel patients to not judge their health by how they feel or the necessity of chiropractic care based on them.

If this were only so.

Creating a taboo topic is NOT the way to accomplish this. Because a symptom is not intrinsically good or bad. Instead, it’s the meaning we attach to the symptom that has significance. Naturally, helping patients embrace a new meaning to their headache or back pain is a more formidable task!

However, if you don’t want to go down that road, why not greet patients with something like, “So, what’s great today?” Or, “What’s worth celebrating?"

What I'm Reading

filter bubble bookIn 2010 Google began delivering personalized search results. In other words, if you and I were to enter identical search terms into Google, what you see and what I see will be different, based on where we live, what we’ve searched on in the past; even our political leanings. The Filter Bubble, What the Internet Is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser explores the implications of this technological development. Learn how your search history is bought and sold in fractions of a second and why banner ads for those shoes you were looking at (but didn’t buy) dog you long after you left the site. Sure, the brilliant search capabilities of Google and the others make the Internet useful. Plus, it’s free. But as the opening quote of Chapter One warns, “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer, you’re the product being sold.”


Monday Morning Motivation

Patients rarely embrace chiropractic for life on their first exposure to it.

Take an inventory of your once- or twice-monthers and you'll discover they've had multiple brushes with chiropractic before embracing it as a regular lifestyle adjunct.

Yet, many chiropractors hammer away at chiropractic virgins, hoping to convince them to use chiropractic the way they use chiropractic. Then, feel like failures when patients don't.

Truth is, patients have heard that "once you go, you have to go for the rest of your life." So they begin care with the goal of beating the house--getting drug-free results without a long-term commitment. Worse, they think you "fixed" them with a dozen visits after 20-30 years of neglect and won't need chiropractic care again! Highly unlikely.

Instead, warn them of their highly likely relapse. Because if they discontinue care once they feel better, a relapse is almost certain. However, their reactivation isn't.

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Are You a Meaning Maker?

make meaning for patientsPatient education helps create a common understanding, entice patients to attach new meanings to the experience of their body and embrace beliefs that more accurately reflect the reality of health and healing.

Some might argue that this is even more important than adjusting the patient. However, what makes effective patient education so difficult is that few patients begin chiropractic care with an interest in abandoning their current health care paradigm. Most see their problem as a back problem and dutifully consult a back doctor. You. End of story.

So, between the pressure to get paid by insurance carriers for treating mechanical back pain, and the resistance by most patients to abandon their current beliefs, it’s tempting to take the path of least resistance, devoting little energy to encouraging patients to abandon their germ-fearing, symptom-focused, drug-using notion of health.

Continue reading "Are You a Meaning Maker?" »

About July 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Chiropractic Practice Blog in July 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2011 is the previous archive.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.