Enhancing Client Engagement: Navigating the Next Steps in Physiotherapy

In the world of healthcare, particularly in the realm of physiotherapy, successful client engagement goes beyond the walls of the clinic. It extends into the daily lives of clients, where they must actively participate in their treatment plan. 

David Allen’s quote from his book, “Making It All Work,” holds profound wisdom: 

“Finish your thinking simply means to decide what the next physical thing to do is to move them forward from where they are.”

David Allen’s quote suggests that to achieve progress, both the physiotherapist and the client need to decisively identify the next physical action that will propel the client forward in their rehabilitation journey. All too often assumptions are made as to what that next step will be on the part of both parties which can lead to frustration.

This article explores some strategies for physiotherapists to empower clients to take the required action and to establish a collaborative approach to care.

“Finish Your Thinking” in Physiotherapy

Let’s break down this concept and apply it to the physiotherapy context:

1. Identifying the Next Physical Action:

Client-Centred Assessment: It is assumed that you will complete a thorough assessment of the client’s condition. 

What’s commonly not clear is being fully aware of their goals both in the short term and long term. What specifically do they want to be doing that they can’t do now? How will the client know when they have achieved their goal? 

Listen carefully to the language they use to express their concerns and expectations. Are you dealing with any underlying limiting beliefs or habits that may need to discussed?

Completing a client-centred assessment should help you both identify the specific next steps required to take.

Prescriptive Exercises: Prescribing exercises is relatively easy from the perspective of the clinician. Doing them may not be that easy from the client’s perspective.

To help with client engagement, you may be need to offer a number of alternatives until the client feels confident they can agree on what they will commit to actioning.

2. Maintaining Focus on Health and Recovery:

Mindful Engagement: Encourage clients to be mindful of their health and recovery. Remind them that the next physical action, whether it’s doing exercises or making lifestyle adjustments, is a step closer to their goals.

Education: What information does the client need to help with to take action? It’s all too easy to provide a lot of information that may push the client into overwhelm. Be prepared to limit your education to the needs and the emotional state of the client. 

‘Layered learning’ is more effective than providing so much education that the client doesn’t remember most of what you tell them.

Motivational Support: Find out what your client needs from you to support them in their recovery journey. People are very varied in this area. Some need constant support and others may only need occasional monitoring. 

What does that support look like for them? How do they want you to work with them to ensure success?

Tailor your guidance and communication style to suit the client’s preferences and needs.

Feedback Loop: Establish a feedback mechanism where clients can express their concerns and ask questions about the next steps. This ensures that both you and the client are aligned in your understanding of the treatment plan.

In essence, “Finish your thinking” in physiotherapy translates to a proactive and client-centred approach. It means decisively determining the next physical action while maintaining the client’s focus on their health and recovery journey. 


In the world of physiotherapy, success is not merely measured by clinical expertise but also by the ability to empower clients to take ownership of their well-being. 

By adopting a client-centred approach, listening attentively, avoiding assumptions, and providing clear guidance, physiotherapists can ensure that both they and their clients “finish their thinking.” 

Together, they can navigate the next steps in the treatment plan with confidence, knowing that each action is purposeful and aligned with the client’s path to recovery.

What I offer you and your staff?

Skills practice and reflection will be the cornerstone of my training. I am available for both in person and limited Zoom PD for your group.

If you have a staff member who is struggling to keep new patients or confidently present treatment plans, you might be interested in one-on-one coaching for him/her. 

If you would like to engage me to work with your staff or coach a member of your team, click here so that you can schedule a time to discuss your specific training needs.

Contact me to find out when I will be in your city and available for LIVE professional development.

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Contact me for expression of interest in the pilot option and prices early 2024

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