In the realm of travel therapy, whether you practice physical therapy or occupational therapy, you will encounter all kinds of personalities. Some patients are easy going and can have a sense of humor about their situation. Others have been through a lot of trauma and as a result can seem standoffish and even aggressive. The way you deal with each type of personality will vary – sometimes you have to use a little tough love, other times you can use the power of laughter to heal.
Now imagine that each of those personalities was a different breed of shark. There’s the sleek and cunning tiger shark, the gentle and docile nurse shark and the great white shark with its awesome power. Let’s pair up the sharks with their corresponding patient personalities.
1. Tiger shark
The tiger shark is known for being quick and dangerous. It’s a great hunter because of its camouflaged appearance and its lightning-fast agility. Any occupational therapist who has been in the industry for a while has had to treat a tiger shark. This is a patient who is in therapy to treat an ongoing condition, yet is very good at hiding its effects. Say your patient experienced head trauma that causes reoccurring headaches. As you help the person manage the condition, the patient might try to please you by acting better than he or she actually feels. It takes some guile to see through this facade of strength to the real problem. The solution is to talk to the patient and get the person you’re helping comfortable with your presence.
2. Nurse shark
Nurse sharks are known for being docile, according to LeisurePro. That is, until they feel physically threatened. You might encounter patients with similar tendencies. Imagine patients in physical therapy who have been making great progress – it seems like every day they get a little better. And all the while they are cheerful and motivated. But then one day they hit a setback. For one reason or another, they just can’t seem to make any progress, and because of it they get frustrated and angry. This is completely normal, and explaining so might help calm them down and get them motivated again. Remember why they’re feeling frustrated and try to place yourself in their shoes – or fins! – before working on a solution together.
3. Great White shark
Everyone knows the great white shark as the king of the deep. These ancient predators are fearsome to behold. In terms of patients, the great white is one that seems almost too difficult to handle. You may wonder why they are being so aggressive with you and even question whether or not they want to get better. It may be difficult, but you need to look past their hard exterior into the hurt person beneath. Often these types of patients have gone through a lot over the course of their ailment and recovery. Some of them are just tired of trying to get better. Dr. Val Jones, writing for KevinMD, suggested finding an ally family member to help the patient through this rocky period. Empathy is your best tool in this case.