Over the years I have received thanks from many patients for this one simple action. They thank me for touching their forearm during the treatment. Some have expressed that they wished their “regular” doctor would touch them like that because it was so reassuring. I’ve had the same experience. Last time I went to the dentist, I thought it would really be reassuring if he would put his hand on my forearm as he was getting ready to start looking into my mouth. But he didn’t. It was like he made an effort to touch me as little as possible! Do practitioners think they are being respectful of their patients personal space? Believe me, we are invading their personal space. That is why it’s so important to use a reassuring touch before we start to really invade!
Establish Trust and Rapport
After taking the history, I have the patient get positioned on the treatment table. I wash up, and as I approach the table, I’ll place my hand on the patients forearm. This is a non-threatening place to touch people. With contact made, I’ll explain how I’m going to massage around a little bit to find the muscle knots (I’m working on a report that details this; watch for it). This touch is so important to establish trust and rapport with the patient. They all appreciate this simple touch. Have you studied massage? Usually they will teach that you should try to stay in contact with the patient as much as possible during the massage. Acupuncture is the same way. Keep a reassuring hand on the patient, or a reassuring forearm if your hand is not available. Let’s say I’m working on a patients low back. I’ll rest a forearm gently on their back to maintain contact. It feels a lot better than just getting stuck with a needle!
Keep in touch!