Mindful Embodied Dialogues in Community-based Physiotherapy

By Diane Tasker, Stephen Loftus and Joy Higgs.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

People caring for chronically ill or disabled people living at home undertake a difficult and grueling job, even though family members and carers may view this caring as a ‘labour of love’. Regular visits from a community-based physiotherapist provide an opportunity to develop and improve the quality of physical care for the client concerned and can give much needed support and hope to families and carers. The relationship that develops between physiotherapists and ‘family care teams’ in such situations is more complex than has been previously acknowledged. In this qualitative study, hermeneutic phenomenology was used to explore the lived experience of the relationships that develop between physiotherapists and members of these ‘family care teams’ and what these relationships mean to those involved. Semi-structured home-based interviews were held with clients, families, carers and their visiting physiotherapists across NSW, Australia. Findings revealed that relationship-centred care in the home healthcare setting evolves in complex ways as the interpersonal relationship between the physiotherapist and the ‘family care team’ develops. In particular, physiotherapists use composite relationship-treatment approaches to practice. The personal interaction is just as important as the therapeutic interaction; indeed, such embodied dialogue supports the therapeutic interaction in a variety of ways, which are not usually discussed as part of physiotherapy practice. In particular, these relationship-treatment approaches are used to enhance communication and interaction with clients and family care team members in ways that engender confidence and comfort for all participants. Deeper understanding of these social interactions may enhance awareness of such issues in professional practice and advance the development of mindful, therapeutic relationship skills.

Keywords: Community-based Physiotherapy, Hermeneutic Phenomenology, Receptivity, Relationship-centred Healthcare, Responsiveness, Tidal Model

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 12, pp.181-192. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 781.671KB).

Diane Tasker

Doctoral Candidate, School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University, North Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia

For over 25 years, Diane Tasker has worked as a community-based physiotherapist in the community of the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Australia. She is passionately interested in supporting people with chronic and complex healthcare issues to live full and happy lives and improving their access to community life. At present, she is undertaking doctoral candidacy with Charles Sturt University. Her research project explores how community-based physiotherapists interpret relationship-centred healthcare via the interpersonal relationships they develop with the members of ‘family care teams’ in the home.

Stephen Loftus

Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, Australia

Stephen Loftus has been involved in medical education and practice for many years. After several years working as a dentist, he became involved in online distance education in multidisciplinary pain management. This led to a research interest into the nature of professional practice and its education in the healthcare field. He is a believer in the power of qualitative approaches to open up our understanding of professional practice and education. His particular interests are in how we use the power of language to understand and articulate what we do. For this he uses an interdisciplinary approach, combining ideas from schools of thought as varied as narrative inquiry, philosophical hermeneutics, phenomenology and social constructionism.

Joy Higgs

Director, The Education for Practice Institute, Charles Sturt University, North Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia

Professor Higgs AM BSc, Grad Dip Phty, MHPEd, PhD is the Strategic Research Professor in Professional Practice and the Director of The Education for Practice Institute at Charles Sturt University. Her primary role is the advancement of practice-based education through collaborations in research, scholarship, student supervision and education. She has produced multiple publications including over 20 books in professional practice, research and education. In 2004 Professor Higgs received a Member of the Order of Australia award for services to health sciences education in recognition of her contributions to course development, scholarship, research and academic leadership.


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