It’s hard sometimes to ‘see’ your own profession critically. Where do you start? What do you look for? How do you know that you’ve ‘found’ it?
But if you’re going to critically analyse your practice, having the ability to see what’s normally in plain sight is a good skill to learn.
There’s an activity I do with PG students that I use to help them identify some of the things that underpin physiotherapy practice, so I thought I’d share it with you here and see if it resonates with you. (If you click to open this blogpost and scroll to the bottom, there’s a comments box you can use if you have any particular thoughts you’d like to share).
Step 1 – go into an image search engine, Google Images or similar, and search for ‘therapy room’. Here’s the result of my search using Bing Images:
I’ve kept the image quite large so if you click on it it should open up so that you can see some of the detail.
What do you notice about these spaces? What are your reactions to them?
Step 2 – Return to the search box and search for ‘physiotherapy room’ instead. Here’s what came up on Bing:
Again, click on the image to open a larger rendering of the file.
To me, there are some striking differences between the two collections. There are differences in the ‘feel’ of the respective spaces; what they communicate to the client/patient about the kind of care/treatment they’re about to receive; how the spaces are designed to be used – how they function; their overall aesthetic; and their presumed purpose.
Certainly this is a very selective sample, but using such broad search terms reveals some striking consistencies, suggesting that there’s at least something being said consistently here that’s worth critiqueing.
So what kind of message do you feel you’re being given about ‘therapy’ and ‘physiotherapy’ from these images?
How do these images relate to the kinds of spaces you work in?
Given that there are rarely any accidents in the way clinical spaces are used (you’ll never see someone’s bed from home used in a physiotherapy clinic, for example), what are you communicating to your clients/patients about the kind of treatment they can expect to receive?