Lie #6: If I show up like a medical doctor I'll enjoy greater acceptance.
The technical term is posing.
A common denominator among struggling chiropractors is a lack of clarity about what chiropractic is. They can do chiropractic, but the underlying principles are fuzzy at best.
They have been taught to ridicule the century-old language of the green books. They have never read Stevenson or know who he is. They sport lab coats or surgical scrubs as a costume and avoid the language of subluxation (in favor of spinal dysfunction) and adjustment (in favor of spinal manipulation). They might even go all the way and model their patient relationships after the emotional distancing and egotistical examples for which medical practitioners are famous.
Apparently, so the thinking goes, patients are familiar with medicine and expect something similar. So, misdirected chiropractors round off all the sharp edges of chiropractic in the hopes of giving it a more respectable medical flare.
But here's the irony. By the time a patient succumbs to consulting a chiropractor they have become disappointed with the mainstream medical model and are looking for something different. You have a tremendous opportunity to be different by simply telling the truth about nature of real health.
It used to be that chiropractors were the feral ones. They were outspoken, questioning the status quo, rallying against fluoride, vaccinations, routine Caesarean sections, pasteurized milk, antibiotic overuse, the cholesterol hoax and the other fads of mainstream medicine and the pharmaceutical industrial complex.
Not so much anymore. There are a fewer and fewer courageous chiropractors. Many simply go along to get along. They toe the political correctness line, bite their tongues and avoid polarization. By showing up beige they fail to attract—because to attract you must polarize. (Like magnets, attraction only happens at the poles.)
Patients know that chiropractors are a little weird. But when you show up as if you aren't, it's even weirder!
This is the dilemma that evangelist Billy Graham faced. It's easy to forget before the stadium-sized audiences and his consulting with presidents there was a time when Graham's ministry was failing. It wasn't until he fully embraced the Bible and extinguished all doubt that he became the spiritual powerhouse for which he became known.
Same with chiropractic. Until you face every fear, resolve every contradiction and have drop-dead certainty about the principles of chiropractic, there will be doubt. It is this doubt that constrains many chiropractors in under performing practices.
You can start by no longer agreeing implicitly or explicitly to treat their admitting symptom. Consider this exchange at your initial consultation with your next headache patient:
"From what you've described it sounds like you're an excellent candidate for chiropractic care. We've helped many people with problems just like yours. So, you're in the right place.
"However, we don't treat headaches. That would be the practice of medicine. Now, it sounds like you've consulted a medical practitioner and didn't like the side effects of the medication.
"We take a different approach. Instead, we address the underlying cause of your headaches. As we are able to reduce structural and neurological stress, your headache symptoms are likely to lessen. Your body will no longer need to get your attention to make a change or that a limit has been reached.
"So while we don't treat headaches, those who consult us with headaches are delighted by the all-natural results we produce. Shall we get started?"
Truth: Acceptance and fitting in may have been a prime directive in high school, but today it's a recipe for remaining obscure and invisible. The path to acceptance is to say nothing, do nothing and be nothing.
Bill Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate since 1981. He is the creative director of Patient Media and the co-founder of Perfect Patients. He’s been a regular speaker at Parker Seminars and other chiropractic gatherings since 1985. He is the author of 12 books that explore the doctor/patient relationship from a patient’s point of view. His chiropractic blog, in-office consultations, patient focus groups and consulting calls have helped hundreds of chiropractors around the world. His Monday Morning Motivation is emailed to over 10,000 subscribers each week.