Most chiropractors are great at “doing” chiropractic, but when it comes to explaining it or digging deeper into its philosophical tenants or metaphysical implications, they often come up empty. Or superficial. Or worse, uncertain.
It’s this lack of certainty piece that caught my attention two weeks ago while conducting The Conversation #24 Debrief in Sydney, Australia. Great group of chiropractors, but several seemed to have spent little time giving much thought to, or critical thinking about, what and why they do what they do. Besides only perfunctory coverage at most chiropractic colleges these days, ignoring this is easy because most patients aren’t particularly intellectually demanding. Sure, there is the occasional patient who pesters you with a skeptical question or two, but most obediently acquiesce as you go about the business of putting wayward bones “back” where they belong.
Since most patients don’t tend to ask difficult questions, many chiropractors show up flat-footed when I ask even the most rudimentary question, such as “Why do you recommend three visits a week?” Often their answers consist of little more than bluffing or some derivative of “Because I said so.”
Not exactly the underpinning for the confidence necessary to influence and inspire others by offering hope and certainty.
If no one is asking (except me, apparently), then why do the work of going deep, exploring the many facets of the chiropractic premise, its implications, its distinctions and its unique way of seeing the body?
Because it will make you a better, busier chiropractor. Because you’ll enjoy much higher levels of certainty. With that you’ll automatically project a greater sense of ease and confidence, reassuring patients. Chiropractors who are so equipped do little or no “selling.” Yet, when curious colleagues shadow them, they are astonished by the simplicity of the procedures, the deep connections they have with patients and the lack of even breaking a sweat while helping two or three times as many.
Rarely do these visiting chiropractors recognize the solid intellectual foundation the busier chiropractor has established. Such visitors might be drawn to the “doings” of the busier chiropractor, neglecting the underlying beliefs, philosophy, assumptions and governing principles that guide their patient interactions, procedures and practice policies. Overlook this back-story and you’re tempted to practice a “fake-it-till-you-make-it” approach that lacks authenticity and is instantly detected by all but the least discerning patients.
How does one go about gaining a more solid chiropractic footing? Here are a few suggestions:
Read. If you haven’t read any of the “green” books published by B. J. Palmer, one of the profession’s most prolific chiropractic writers and thinkers, you’re in for an experience. (Green, not in the ecological sense, but in the color of the bookbinding.) I recommend The Bigness of the Fellow Within. It’s big, but among the more readable. You can probably score a copy by ringing up the bookstore at Palmer or Life.
Listen. Track down and listen to any of the classic audio recordings of Dr. Reggie Gold or Dr. Jim Sigafoose. The goal isn’t necessarily to believe what they believe, but to be exposed to their certainty and philosophy. If you’ve been seduced into becoming the whipping boy of insurance companies, you may find this challenging. That’s okay. It’s part of the process. The objective is to refine your point of view.
Journal. Take the time to write down your exploration to your answers to questions such as these: Is subluxation good or bad? What does an adjustment do? How do you explain instances in which adjusting patients doesn’t seem to produce results? Why do you recommend three visits a week? What do patients want? Where do new patients come from? How can you change how someone prioritizes his or her health? What’s the difference between an adjustment and a manipulation? Go deep. Way deep. Don’t want to journal? Then at least ask these of the busiest chiropractors you know. Take notes.
Since you’re a great chiropractor, having mastered the doing and delivery of chiropractic care, you might want to dig deeper into its history, philosophy and the many distinctions that separate it from medicine and other disciplines. By doing so, you’ll have a far greater appreciation for what you do, and why. You’ll better understand why it compelled many chiropractors to go to jail to protect these principles. The result will be greater confidence, clarity and certainty. It’s how the busiest chiropractors get that way.