"Limbic resonance is the idea that the capacity for sharing deep emotional states arises from the limbic system of the brain. These states include the dopamine circuit-promoted feelings of empathic harmony, and the norepinephrine circuit-originated emotional states of fear, anxiety and anger." - Wikipedia.
Shared emotional states don't require super-human abilities. It requires empathy. As clinicians who spend a majority of our day working with individuals suffering from pains and disabilities, building empathy and resonance with our clients is powerful leverage in helping them achieve their goals.
Here are some interesting ways for physical therapists to build/leverage limbic resonance with their clients.
1. Smile First. Set the tone for a safe atmosphere to encourage open communication by Smiling first.
2. The Handshake. Prof. Laurie Hartman, DO talks about the importance of appropriate stance when shaking hands. Try shaking hands standing in stride with your left foot forward. Then try it with your right foot forward. Notice the difference. It's subtle, but noticeable. One feels more confident than the other.
3. Eye contact. During evaluations, relax your face and maintain a comfortable amount of eye contact. 100% eye contact is creepy. Inadequate eye contact relays lack of interest.
4. Environment. Eliminate background music/sound if possible. Sit eye level with the patient. Put away your laptop. Write down what you need on paper.
5. Lean in a bit; demonstrate curiosity.
6. Listen to understand instead of listening to respond. You don't have to respond right away.
7. Validate their concerns and feelings. Let them know that you can understand why they feel the way they do.
8. Ask for permission. Permission to ask questions. Permission for physical examination. Permission to preserve their dignity. Permission to call him/her by their first name.
9. Ask questions to learn, not just confirm. Keep your questions open-ended. Avoid leading questions.
10. If you aren't sure about something, then ask. Not only will this clarify things for you, it will also strengthen the bonds of curiosity shared by both individuals.
11. Recap the interview, and ask if you have the story correct.
12 Ask if they have any more questions or concerns that you may not have addressed.
13. Don't rush into treatment. Allow enough time for questions and answers so that you have built a foundational rapport and therapeutic alliance before moving into treatment. This will make your sessions more effective.
14. Review their functional goals to reinforce the fact that both of you are working towards the same goals.
15. Laugh. It really can be the best medicine. Corny jokes are especially effective. Trust me.
16. Communicate on their wavelength. Communicate in their language - use their words.
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