Effects of a Family-Oriented Training Experience on the Role of the Physical Therapist

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

This article describes ways in which a family-oriented psychologist contributed to a reconceptualization of the appropriate role for the physical therapist in patient care. The article identifies aspects of the changing role of the physical therapist, specifically its expansion to include skilled psychosocial interaction with patient and family for the purposes of reassurance, support and instruction. A primary shift involved changing from focus on the individual and his or her disability to focus on the patient in the context of his or her family. The article briefly describes elements of appropriate psychological training which can be incorporated successfully in a physical therapy educational experience, and concludes with a case example illustrating the basic points relevant to this type of interdisciplinary collaboration.

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