I am still amazed at the number of times I hear therapists comparing patients to cars and themselves as mechanics who can ‘fix’ them. They also use these explanations to justify how they need to see patients for regular ‘servicing’ and ‘maintenance’ treatments. This kind of thinking and talking needs to stop. Patients are not cars, and therapists are not mechanics. However, if you are a therapist who wishes to describe yourself as a mechanic and your patients as cars then I have some thoughts you may want to consider.
First things first, complex, sentient, biological, ecosystems such as human beings and the vessels they call their bodies are NOT inorganic lumps of metal and plastic like cars or any other machine. Bio-mechanics are NOT mechanics. Anatomy is NOT engineering.
To compare the self regulating, self repairing human body to a lifeless, inanimate object such as car is simply ridiculous. The human body has a remarkable capacity and propensity to maintain homeostasis and repair itself, and like it or not, it has done this, and will continue to do this just fine without any help from you as a therapist poking, fiddling or fannying around it.
Therapists don’t ‘fix’ people
I often have patients tell me they have been told by some other so called ‘
mechanic‘ therapist that they have been fixed but how they now need regular maintenance treatments or risk having more problems and pain in the future. This bull shit really boils my piss. It’s nothing more than fear inducing, scare mongering, crap used to profiteer of the scared and vulnerable.
So if you are one of these
therapists scum bags who does like to call yourself a mechanic who fixes people, and your patients as cars or any other machine, and your practice as a garage or dealership that services people, be aware of this counter analogy I use to rain on your parade and explain to my patients why this is not as good as it sounds.
I have a car!
And thankfully it minimal issues and rarely goes wrong… because as the owner I LOOK AFTER IT. I feed my car with good quality fuel and lubricants. I exercise it regularly, and sensibly, ensuring I don’t over rev the engine, or slam on the brakes too often, but do also give it a blast of full throttle now and then to clear out its pipes. This I explain is no different to how we should ‘maintain’ our own bodies, exercising regularly, feeding and fueling well, and blasting off some steam now and then by going full throttle.
However, admittedly my car does occasionally have the odd problem that I can’t sort out myself no matter how well I look after it, such as the wheel tracking can go out a little, a warning light flicks on the dash board, or a fliter gets a bit clogged. So I do need to take my car to the ‘experts’ to get it sorted out from time to time, so I go to a garage and talk to a ‘mechnic’.
So mechanic A listens to what I tell him I think the issue is, he does his diagnositc tests and proceeds to tell me in all sorts of technical language all the things it COULD be, and how it COULD mean that there are lots of other issues, and how it COULD mean more work is needed. He does some ‘stuff’ to my car but tells me I need to come back for some further tests, to make sure it all ok. So I go back, and he makes another point of telling me how it’s more complicated than he thought and farts around some more with my car, and again tells me to come back again to ensure its all ok, and so we go round and round and round.
However, mechanic B is different, he listens like the other guy, he does his diagnotic tests like the other guy, but he tells me in simple, clear terms that it’s not a major issue and that he will sort it out for me and have me driving around again in no time. And he does. He does his stuff, gives me my car back with minimal fuss, and tells me what to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
So which mechanic do you think I use from now on? Which mechanic do you think I am going to take my wife’s car too if it has an issue? Which mechnaic do you think I am going to tell my friends, and family to take their cars too if they have an issue?
So I tell my patients this story and that if their body was a car, which it’s not, but if it was, which mechanic would you want to use? The one who sorted the issue with minimal issue/fuss and cost, or the one you have to return to week after week having multiple visits and extra costs?
In a nut shell for therapists this comes down to promoting self efficacy, and the external v internal locus of control, and in simple business terms the difference between patient retention v turnover. Many therapists need to stop comparing human bodies to cars, particularly when it comes to justifying or suggesting regular check ups for people with no pain or issues.
The belief that the human body needs regular movement MOTs or assessments to ‘prevent’ future issues is unfounded. To think therapists can predict or prevent what will happen in the future in terms of pain or injury is nothing short of deluded wishful thinking and clairvoyancy. Finally if you think, that as a therapist you are a healer or a fixer of things, then you are a simply a narcissist.
NEVER see patients as a life long customers or clients, who need regular maintenance. As a therapist ALWAYS strive to make yourself redundant with every patient as soon as possible. See ever patient as an advertisement of your quick, simple, clear, helpful, and efficient advice and service, and as that go to therapist (not mechanic) who got them going again quickly, with minimal fuss, minimal fannying around and most definitely not by asking them to come back time and time again.
As always, thanks for reading