How to encourage your clients to comply with Home Programs

Challenge: The client with the frozen shoulder presents with the same stiffness as the last two visits. You ask her about her home program. She does not even remember what exercises you taught her. Apparently, she is not complying with the home program. What do you say or do to encourage compliance?

This is one of my favorite issues. We are in business to be successful, achieve goals and hopefully to make a difference in the life of someone with a rehabilitative health issue. When no difference is being made, one must question as to why? We expect results when we instruct clients in self-care, home programs, and therapy interventions. We may be confounded by a client’s lack of cooperation or reticence when it comes to taking responsibility for his/her health. Some people believe the doctor fixes them. Others feel that if they paid for a service, it should be up to the provider to make change happen. Others are negotiating for some kind of gain, either disability benefits, attention, liability awards, or a way out of a situation they do not like. (such as an undesirable job). A few clients may be fearful of failure, of re-injury or pain, or they just do not trust you. Some clients have informed me of just how long they must exaggerate their injury to gain in a lawsuit. (“I must be out of work at least four months or I will not win this case.” or “If I return to work too soon my wife will kill me. I take home more on disability than I do when I am working.”) Whatever the reason, you must discuss the problem with them and identify a realistic solution. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you missed something. Examine again. Repeat objective measures. Review your records. Refer to another practitioner or to their physician for assessment. Ask them directly about how they feel about their home program, without being confrontational.

Be honest but fair. The client may surprise you with his/her answer. Be open and supportive, but firm. Perhaps something you did caused them pain, or did not meet their preconceived expectations, or what their neighbor said about his PT experience. Be sure you provided good reasons for compliance, perhaps some stats on the value of home programs. Educate the client about how important it is for them to understand why you prescribed such a program, what your expectations are, and the list of goals. If you are on the same page as he/she is, you have a greater chance for success. If not, you might decide to “show them the door” after explaining why you cannot help them, you will not take their money for nothing. Be sure to refer them back to the physician, and document the interaction.

Leave a Comment

Mindful Drum Circle July 12th 7pm Newbury NHRelax with traditional drumming meditation for wellness

Mindful Drum Circle:  7-9pm 7/12/22 for wellness of body-mind-spirit!

Enjoy a guided meditation journey to the sound of drumming & singing bowls. 
Bring a drum/rattle, or listen in to connect with your Higher Power with us.

Location: SENT UPON REGISTRATION,  just 4 miles from Mt. Sunapee

877-281-3382  donation: $11

Register at:

Circle is held outside by the fire, weather permitting, or indoors in rain.  Bring your lawn chair. 

Rehab Summit: 42 courses, 4 days! Oct. 8-12, 2022Top speakers, great connections! Get a year's worth of CE in one weekend

The Largest Multi-Disciplinary Rehab Conference in the Nation

If you’re interested in working with today’s leading experts and the most talented and passionate individuals in the industry, this is YOUR event. For the last 14 years, hundreds of the world’s brightest rehab professionals (physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, athletic trainers, licensed massage therapists, and chiropractors) have come together to learn what’s new, what’s actually working, and what’s just around the corner in their field.

Now’s your chance to attend the only rehab conference that allows you to tailor your education to your specialty area and network with your peers from multiple disciplines — plus you’ll earn up to a year’s worth of CE hours.

FREE Relaxing Meditation VideoJust simply fill out your name and email below.

Once you submit your name and email, you will then receive an email with your FREE Relaxing Meditation video: Journey To Relaxation to help you release stress and tension, fast and easy!

Gratitude is everything! Educise thanks you with a $35 BOGO coupon!Be grateful to master skills with Educise home study today!

Did you see Dr. Theresa's articles in Massage Journal  this month?

SPECIAL! Buy One-Get One: use code bogoedu for home study courses at checkout: 

$35 value!

Join Dr. Theresa, the Clinical Strategist with Educise VIP membership!

·       Monthly Top Tips to maximize clinical skills online

·       Unlimited VIP access to our course content online

·       Quarterly virtual coaching meetings Q&A with expert faculty

·       Members-only discounts on courses and products

Scroll to Top