My Story

Physiotherapy is more than just treating clinical conditions or improving treatment techniques.

Behaviour modification and change in thinking plays a major role in recovery. Scientist Dr Laura Kubzansky at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health states that “Your outlook—having a sense of optimism and purpose—seems to be predictive of health outcomes,”

In my practice, I have found that when a clinician is open to changing his/her thinking around patient treatment, he has increased rates of patients returning to complete treatment.

I believe that as a physio you are the catalyst. The patient comes to you for a cure. You give your best; you are invested in their care, because you sincerely want them to overcome their problem.

A recent study stated that, physical and mental health are often viewed as two entirely distinct entities, each provided for by its own set of services, providers and treatments. In recent years, the interrelationship between physical and mental well-being has been more widely studied and a range of physiological pathways linking the two have come to light.

Exploring the mind-body interface and examining some of the emerging evidence, an integrated approach to overall health and a positive relationship with your client is important for a successful client patient relationship.

I have over 30 years’ experience in private practice, specialising in sports physiotherapy. I started my career as a junior physiotherapist in one of the first Sports Medicine Clinics in Australia. I went on to become a partner in that practice before deciding to go out on my own. I went on to start up three more clinics whilst being heavily involved providing physiotherapy for sports teams at state and international level.

I worked with the Australian Women’s Cricket Team 1986 – 1989 and the Australian Women’s Basketball Team 2001- 2004. I was fortunate to work at two World Championships in different sports and the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

After finishing working with sports teams in 2004, I started a physiotherapy practice in the Adelaide Hills where I incorporated fitness training with the usual clinical skills. By doing this I was able to interact with the patients on an emotional level to help them overcome fears and self-defeating habits that often prevented them from achieving the recovery outcomes that were possible.

During my time as a clinician I came to the realisation that, as physiotherapists we are really well trained in how the body responds to injury and disease and how the brain controls the body but we are not well trained in how the mind influences the brain.

I believe that it is the mind/brain connection that often determines why two people with essentially the same injury can have vastly different outcomes.

Since finishing work as a clinician due to arthritis in my thumbs, I have spent the last 5 years studying Neuro Linguistic Programming, Neuroplasticity and the mind/brain connection. I have developed a special interest in how our communication, both verbal and non-verbal has a significant effect on how our patients respond to us and the advice we give them.

As physiotherapists we spend a lot of time with our patients, often more than any other health professional. I believe it is our responsibility to be fully aware of the affect our communication has on our patients and also the effect it can have on their recovery.


Annette Tonkin
Results Coaching Cert

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A healing and nurturing relationship with the patient is the most important aspect of a consultant’s work. I focus on providing strategies to help improve long term patient relationships that accelerate their well being.


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