Although physiotherapists and other medical professionals have high experience and expertise in their field, there are occasions where patients may not recover at the speed or in the way that was expected. Though, this does not mean that treatment is impossible. Recent studies have shown that psychological health, especially concerning fear of treatment or further injury can be the reason for improper healing. In this, promoting self-efficacy by improving mental perceptions of an injury and its treatment is the key to a good recovery.
The Problem With Fear The biggest problem with fear itself is that its not always a conscious state and can sometimes be brought on by a context that we do not understand. Through physiotherapy treatment, fear may be brought on by pain and discomfort that is experienced throughout treatment procedures.
It can be difficult to train our brains to accept pain and discomfort during treatment procedures as psychologically, our minds perceive treatment as a process that should be relaxing and promote immediate recovery. However, if we can train our minds and gain a greater understanding of the process of physiotherapy treatment we are more likely to promote self-healing rather than resistance to treatment. This can be done through reading articles online, reading blogs, or speaking to your physiotherapist about specific treatments or the way things should feel.
A Clinical Perspective of Fear It's no surprise that the fundamentals of fear come from emotional and mental domains. This is because experiences that cause stress, anxiety, concern or catastrophe are likely to trigger fear. Though, perhaps the greatest discrepancy shown through research is that such fear is damaging our ability to learn and process information. In this, to develop self-efficacy and overcome trauma, a patient must first be able to understand what caused their fear. This will enable them to seek a more beneficial way to overcome their negative perceptions of treatments.
So what is Self-Efficacy? Self-efficacy is defined as “a belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations” (Bandura, 1995). In simpler terms, this means that self-efficacy is a person self-belief in their ability to work towards correcting a situation. This also implies that someone fearful of something, whether it be a treatment or other factor, will be less motivated to seeking self-improvement (Eg completing their physio exercises).
Self-efficacy provides a sense of personal insight as to one's capabilities to execute tasks. This means that those with a strong sense of self-efficacy are more able to mobilize themselves to perform specific actions and behaviours. This is because they have a stronger belief in their ability to do so. This works the same in terms of treatment. When a patient believes they will recover and also puts in the effort required to promote their recovery, they are more likely to meet their desired objectives. In this sense, those who believe that physiotherapy treatment is useless and will fail are those who are most likely to not see any results.
We do understand that it can be difficult to put your trust in your physiotherapist, however, we believe coming in with an open mind and a positive mindset is vital to seeing results. This is because self-efficacy mediates the relationship between pain-related fear and the outcomes that can benefit from treatment. For more information, you can visit our clinic, check out the website or give us a call on 9793 3119.