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Healthcare Whisperer versus Con Artist


The popular idiom of a “whisperer” is used to describe an individual who has special skills to interact with humans or animals to alter behavior and achieve outcomes that others cannot.

What are the characteristics of a whisperer?

A whisperer:

  • Has high level of empathy
  • Has specialized skills
  • Focuses is understanding
  • Uses body language communication
  • Uses language, gestures which are meaningful
  • Uses verbal and body language communication which is meaningful to the person
  • Listens more than talks
  • Has high level of skill in observing
  • Uses positive re-enforcement more than negative
  • Knows when to push when to rest
  • Uses an approach which may be unconventional
  • Has a plan or system based on values?
  • Is consistent
  • Develops high level of trust

As a consumer of healthcare these are desirable characteristics to look for in a healthcare provider.

As a healthcare provider the analogy of a whisperer is a good role model to strive to emulate.

The idiom of a whisperer has been applied to a long list of healthcare professionals. The following is a list of some of the healthcare providers purporting that they are whisperers: Pain Whisperer; Back pain Whisperer; Pelvic Floor Whisperer (vagina whisperer); Muscle whisperer; Mindbody Whisperer; Blotted belly Whisperer; Dementia Whisperer; Body Whisperer; Running Whisperer; Shoe Whisperer; and Alzheimer’s Whisperer.

As a skeptical consumer of healthcare services and as a healthcare provider who practices evidence-based healthcare, I question whether self-purported healthcare whisperers can have success changing behavior and achieving outcomes others cannot achieve.

No one person or method has all the answers to all your woes. The day you only trust one guru and one theory is the day you stop learning and unlearning from the teaching and mistakes one has made.

The juxtaposition to the image of the whisperer is the con man.  Many of the abilities, characteristics, and techniques to be an effective whisperer make for a good confidence person – con artist.

Con artists:

  • Are masters at reading people
  • Targets the vulnerable
  • Gets you talking a lot
  • Mimics your posture
  • Gain your trust

The abilities, skills, technics of a whisperer are very similar to that of a con artist.

Even if your guy or gal is the equivalent of the Horse Whisperer a critical self-analysis is prudent. Is the therapy really helping?  Or do you just like your guy or gal.  Ideally it is both.  If your guy or gal is not really helping let him/her know, or fire him/her. In my years of providing Physical Therapy I have worked with several Physical Therapist considered to be an Oracle. Most gurus have a large ego, so if you guy or gal is not helping you tell him/her. Do not be surprised if he/she does not hear you. Tell your guy or gal your satisfied with his/her effort, but that you are still having problems. The best Oracle seeks out truth even if means his/her work failed. If I am your guy and you are not getting better, I want to know, tell me.

Damien Howell Physical Therapy – 804-647-9499 – Fax: 866-879-8591 At-Home, At Office, At Fitness Facility – I come to you, I do home visits Damien@damienhowellpt.com

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