Qualities to Look for in a Physical Therapist

Have you just suffered a major injury and found yourself in need of physical therapy? Or are you at a point where you are ready to address the chronic pain you may be experiencing? Whatever the case may be, deciding on the right physical therapist for you can be a daunting task. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of qualities you should look for when deciding on your physical therapy care provider.



Empathy and compassion are crucial to the relationship between a patient and a care provider. It’s not just the right thing to do as a human being; it also has been linked to improved results. A study cited in the National Library of Medicine claims, “Clinical empathy has been studied in a number of [healthcare] disciplines suggesting that higher practitioner empathy leads to improved patient health and wellness and improved patient outcomes.” So, when looking for a physical therapist, you should first see if they showcase these characteristics. 


You don’t want someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, quite literally, cracking your bones. One slip-up can turn a simple adjustment into a serious, lifelong injury. For your ability to serve as your own advocate, the American Physical Therapy Association states, “To practice as a physical therapist in the U.S., you must earn a [Doctor of Physical Therapy] degree from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education-accredited physical therapist education program and pass a state licensure exam. The length of professional DPT programs is typically three years.” It is your right as a patient to request to see a copy of their credentials. They will probably have their degree hanging proudly in their office, readily available for your reference.

Good Listener

Physical therapy is an intimate process. That means that every individual may require different elements of treatment. For instance, someone who has experienced trauma in the past may be hesitant to allow someone to touch them, while someone else may want you to go as hard as you possibly can. A good physical therapist will take the time to listen to your unique situation and provide treatment that works for you. Fellow experts agree by saying, “Active listening is an essential part of building strong relationships with patients…. Active listening provides superior communication between the health professional and [the] client.” So, if you feel like your physical therapist isn’t listening to you, it’s definitely time to find someone who will. 


As we hinted at earlier, physical therapy is not one-size-fits-all. One of the most important things for a good physical therapist to consider is that the skeleton we’re working on is attached to a brain with its own likes and dislikes. Everything in healthcare should be not only consensual but an open dialogue between the patient and the care provider. According to the Mid-American Rehabilitation Network, “Informed consent is an essential aspect of ethical patient care. Documentation of informed consent should show two things: that the PT gave information, and that the patient understood that information and consented to the proposed treatment.” Consent is a non-starter. You give the final sign-off on everything a physical therapist is allowed to do, and if anyone tries to convince you otherwise, run (do not walk) to the nearest exit.

We understand that this list can be a bit intense. However, we have great news. Dr. Michael Hartle, from Allen County Family & Sports Chiropractic, has all of these qualities in spades! We’d love to have you stop by and see how great he is!