• Sarah Symmes

A shift towards centre

Updated: Apr 4


Photo credit: Anchor Studio

I come from a family of helpers; a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, an advocate and a leader. Naturally that led me to want to be a helper too. But little did I know how hard helping could be at times. As someone who tends to wear my heart on my sleeve and empathize deeply (a sensitive soul as some might say), I found it difficult to save energy for my home life and to continue to do an amazing job for my clients. A few years into my career as a physiotherapist and to be honest I was already feeling burnt out. As my family grew to include 2 kiddos I knew something had to shift and I had to make a change or I would be helping no-one.

With practice and reflection I learned that fewer patients in a more quiet home based setting allowed me to be a better listener and to connect more with my clients. A little more time with each client also helped me feel centred and present. Soon I found myself feeling energized by each client and excited for my workday. My client outcomes were improving too.

I guess that's why they call it a practice because well... it takes practice. And after 10 years of this practice I learned that it's not enough for my approach to be client centred it also has to be sarah-centred! Eek, that sounds so selfish to write. But as we have heard countless times we have to fill up our own cup first before we can help others. Starting Centred Physiotherapy has been like filing up my cup with my favourite tea and the connection it has offered has left me feeling truly inspired to learn more and provide even better care for my clients.

Now I realize that homecare isn’t the approach for all clients and physios. I know amazing physiotherapists and clients that thrive in a vibrant and energetic clinical environment. I think there is a place for each approach and the important thing is to connect with a physiotherapist that has the skills and knowledge you need for your particular concern and one that can offer you their presence no matter where it is. It’s all about finding the right fit!



Here are my top 5 tips to help you find the right physiotherapy fit:

1. Search your neighbourhood:

It’s hard enough to do your exercises, so make it easy to get to your appointments. Find someone close to where you live or work or that comes to your home ;) so that you can easily follow through with your treatment plan. You can look up a list of physiotherapists in your area and their specific areas of practice via the Ontario Physiotherapy Associations “Find a Physiotherapist” feature (https://opa.on.ca/physiotherapists/).

2. Get to know your physio:

Look up your physiotherapist’s bio on their business website and look them up on the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario website (https://portal.collegept.org/public-register/). The college is the regulating body that is responsible for protecting the rights of patients and ensuring safe, effective and ethical care.

3. Tell them what you need:

Let the reception staff know your area of injury/concern so they can help place you with a physiotherapist that has an area of interest or continuing education related to your area of injury. All physiotherapists registered to the college have demonstrated competency through a rigorous education, national examination and registration process but it feels great to work with someone with excitement to treat your area of concern.

4. Give them a call:

Ask if your physiotherapist is available for a quick 5 min phone call to get to know them, see if you feel comfortable and find out if it might be the right match.

5. Cross check your schedules:

Find out your physiotherapist’s schedule to make sure it jives with yours. You don’t want to have to switch therapists because of a scheduling conflict.


Now share some physiotherapy love, what are the top qualities you look for in a physiotherapist? Or tell me what you love about your physio and tag them!

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