4 Ways to Motivate Patients

Patients come in to PT with varying levels of motivation. Some start super motivated and as they continue, the feeling wanes. On the other hand, some may come in with little to no motivation but with the right encouragement, leave feeling good. Some, may be a mix of the two. No matter what level of motivation your patients start with initially, it’s keeping them motivated that is the most important piece of the puzzle. From active listening to processing feedback, here are our favorite ways to keep patients motivated.

1) Listen and Ask Questions

Getting to know your patient on a deeper level is the first step in helping patients feel motivated to stick to their treatment plan. Asking questing and participating in active listening is one of the best ways to get on the same page and create an action plan for their treatment goals.

2) Get Clear on Patient’s Personal Goals

Your goal is to get them healthy but they may have additional goals that extend beyond the treatment plan. Helping them formulate and express their treatment goals helps you know what action steps to take in their treatment plan and helps keep them focused on getting healthy. Personal goals may include something like being able to lift their dog’s food bag or walk with their friends again at a comparable pace. Knowing that these goals are can help you better tailor their plan to their needs and goals.

3) Use words of encouragement

Words of affirmation encouraging patients to keep trying can make a huge difference. No matter where your patient is in their treatment plan, you know that some days are harder than others. Often times in the beginning it can feel like 2 steps forward 1 step backward. Encourage your patients and help them understand that a small set back does not mean the end of the road. Encourage them to keep showing up and trying their best.

4) Don’t Ignore feedback

Of course you’re the PT expert but your patient is the expert of themselves. If your patient is telling you something doesn’t feel right, they don’t feel ready, or they need you to do something different–listen. While they may be speaking from a place of fear, it’s still a good idea to process their feedback. You can use this information to tailor their treatment plan to better support their fears.


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Brook Phillips