Lessons from a Good PT


Lessons from a Good PT

Jeremy Fein


I’m not going to hide the lesson later in the article to make you read the whole thing. Here you go:


Listen carefully and educate sincerely. Geek out subtly.


In my coaching, I’m not qualified to diagnose people. But the critical thinking that goes into the puzzles of helping people at various degrees of health is, well…critical. So I try to spend time around people who know and do things that I don’t. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of shadowing two amazing Physical Therapists in the Boston area–Dr. Karen Liu and Dr. Zak Gabor (their information below)–and I’ve learned a lot.


The most striking lesson so far is the huge gap between what they do with a patient and how they talk about it afterwards. In their sessions, there’s a ton of listening, laughing, and high fiving to go along with assessments, manual work, and movement. Afterwards, they’ll share the technical reasons for what they were doing–layers of physiology and neurology, and how their assessment shaped the path forward.


In the first video, Karen is weaving between instructions on shoulder rehab and talking about family life. You might think that the “important” part is the cueing of how to position the shoulder. If so, you’d be vastly underestimating the interpersonal skills of a good therapist.


Here, Karen explains to me what’s going on in words that weren’t totally relevant to the patient. Instead of telling the patient everything she knows, she tells the patient what will help him feel better.



Notably, that isn’t to say that PTs are hiding information with their patients. On the contrary, they do a ton of education around why their patients might be in pain and how they can modify their behavior to take control. The key distinction is that they don’t educate to show off how much they know, create dependence, or sell something. Instead, they teach patients simple principles to help them feel and move better, so they can STOP coming in for therapy. They “geek out” plenty, but on their own time.


If you’re a coach of any kind, please get with people outside of your scope. Learn from them, refer to them, get clients from them. If you’re a PT, same deal! We’re all as strong as the network around us–let’s get jacked.


Dr. Karen Liu (Core Movement and Performance PT)

[email protected]


Dr. Zak Gabor (Boston PT and Wellness)

[email protected]

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