The whole experience of being a patient and needing treatment sets the conditions for an experience which is just the opposite of a flow experience. If the pain condition has been recurring or long- term, it typically means the patient has used up all his coping strategies and is failing to adapt to or recover from his condition. Not a fun place to be in for anyone.
Creating an environment for patients to experience flow during their recovery is, I believe, a key strategy for successful rehabilitation. As the saying goes, ‘we teach what we need to learn the most’. So here I am teaching what I need to learn most: 3 points which in my humble experience I have found useful in creating flow for myself and my patients during a physiotherapy session.
1. Listen to the patient
I am guilty of forming my opinions, judgement and biases on my patients prior to truly listening and understanding their complaints. True listening takes time and skill, with intentional listening, patient’s anxiety level drops as the therapist is sufficiently attentive and empathetic. Attentive listening means not being distracted by your own thoughts, but allowing yourself to see things from the perspective of others, untainted by your own beliefs and opinions. Once a patient feels that their concerns are understood fully, they relax more and whatever you do for them hereafter becomes more effective. In this calm state of mind for both therapist and patient, both parties are more likely to experience flow .