52 Socratic Questions

The Overlooked Power of Asking Questions

If you're a chiropractor accustomed to taking a deep breath and talking up the secrets of health and healing, you should know how ineffective it is.

Remarkably ineffective.

It does far more for you than the patient.

Sure, you may get the patient head fake (a slight nod in the affirmative) but you haven't changed anything. The head fake is merely to pacify you, hoping you'll finish up your tirade du jour.

You'd be far more effective if you asked questions. Questions that could serve to provoke critical thinking.

"What do you think about..."
"Why do you suppose..."
"Have you ever wondered..."
"What's your theory about..."

Rather than simply making a series of assertions, you accomplish three things by showing a genuine interest in a patient's worldview by asking questions.

  • You're likely to uncover some amazing insights
  • You make the patient aware of their sometimes childish, unresolved beliefs
  • You control the direction of the conversation

Only by being interested in their point of view will a patient ever be interested in yours.

Get that reversed because you're the doctor, you're smarter, patients are stupid, it's your moral obligation, etc. and you'll be rewarded with frustration and the emptiness that comes with self-righteousness.

Here are some questions you might want to ask patients.

But only if you're actually interested in their answers:

1. How does the medication find the headache?
2. How has the care in our practice affected other aspects of your life?
3. How long do you think it will take for chiropractic care to help you?
4. How long do you think you've had your problem?
5. How long does it take to form a bone spur?
6. How long will you need chiropractic care?
7. How will you know when you won't need chiropractic care?
8. How would you define the word "health"?
9. How would you define the word subluxation?
10. How would you know if someone you know could benefit from chiropractic?
11. If it were your practice, what would you do to help more people?
12. If you had to choose, would you rather feel good or be healthy?
13. If you have a fever or find yourself vomiting, are you sick or are you well?
14. In five years do you expect your health to be better or worse and why?
15. Is a muscle spasm a cause or an effect?
16. How "full" do you perceive our practice to be?
17. How do you "catch" a cold?
18. How do you know when you're healthy?
19. Is average normal or is normal average?
20. What are some of the most common dangers of pain medications?
21. What are the three causes of subluxations?
22. What are the two things that most drugs do to your body?
23. What controls every cell, tissue, organ and system of your body?
24. What do we need to do so you'd feel comfortable telling others about our practice?
25. What do you hope to do better or enjoy more when you regain your health?
26. What do you think is the greatest myth or misconception about chiropractic?
27. What does a chiropractic adjustment do?
28. What happens when patients discontinue their care as soon as they feel better?
29. What is the best thing you can do to avoid the flu or a cold?
30. What is the biggest difference between medical treatment and chiropractic care?
31. What is the greatest source of stress in your life?
32. What is the leading cause of liver damage?
33. What is the meaning of the word "doctor"?
34. What is the purpose of a surgeon's mask?
35. What is the purpose of pain?
36. What's the difference between a good drug and a bad drug?
37. What's the difference between living tissue and dead tissue?
38. What's your theory about what causes cancer?
39. When do most people get their first vertebral subluxation?
40. When you tell others about chiropractic, what do you tell them that we do?
41. Where does the word "patient" come from?
42. Which affects your health more: your genetics or your environment?
43. Who do you know that should be seeing us?
44. Why are some people are allergic to pollen and others aren't?
45. Why do certain foods cause heartburn for some people, but not others?
46. Why do some drugs require a prescription, but others do not?
47. Why do we recommend three visits per week at the beginning of care?
48. Why do you suppose they call it the germ theory?
49. Why do you think chiropractic could help you?
50. Why does chiropractic work?
51. Why have your previous attempts at solving this problem been unsuccessful?
52. Why would the vaccinated be afraid of the unvaccinated?

Want some coaching on deploying the Socratic method in your practice? Get a copy of Million Dollar Questions as a digital download or audio CD.