Overcoming regional communication differences from north to south & east to west

american surfer

american surfer

Traveling across the U.S. exposes traveling therapists and allied professionals to exciting new sights, cultures and cuisine. But, what many travelers aren’t expecting are the regional shifts in communication styles that can create a “language” barrier. While a career in traveling can push you outside your comfort zone, it can sometimes be a little more challenging than you expected. Here’s some differences you might face and a few universal responses that will help you cross all cultural and regional differences.

Building trust, making friends & “Good morning!”

While you’ll encounter dozens of friendly faces throughout each assignment, subtle communication differences can unintentionally cause you to leave a negative impression on folks around you. For example, a co-worker from a Midwestern state might be friendly and open right off the bat, while a client from the same region might fail to share important information during your therapy sessions because they think “complaining” is rude.

While simple greetings like “good morning” or “how are you” are expected from passersby in Southern states, co-workers from Los Angeles or NYC might react awkwardly to your daily intrusion. It’s not uncommon for folks from large cities to pass strangers on a sidewalk without a glance, while individuals from rural towns nationwide are accustomed to saying “hello” or meeting the eyes of strangers and smiling with a nod. Failing to engage in this pleasantry can leave the wrong impression in some communities.

  • Building trust is essential, especially if you’ve made a client or co-worker uncomfortable with your communication style. It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong, but you’re behaving in a way that is outside their “cultural norm,” which can cause basic distrust in any situation. Think of a loud and friendly cowboy from the West wearing his worn cowboy hat and boots in a local diner in Nashville vs. a small diner in Maine. One town’s patrons might find him fun and open, while the other might find him abrasive. Yet, if you hope to have positive work environments, or responsive clients, building trust is imperative. Paying attention to social cues can help you navigate new waters.
  • It’s also important to realize that certain regions expect that your close interactions, whether as a co-worker or client, naturally results in a type of friendship. Maybe not BFFs, but certainly more than strangers. So, if you’re consistently cool in your interactions, failing to ask friendly non-work related follow-up questions (i.e. did you tell me your son graduated?), you may encounter clients who are more and more distant, or a co-worker who stops asking you to lunch.

american cowboy

It’s not you, it’s me

Your patients can find you intimidating or too easy going based on your communication style – and vice versa – which can make it difficult to connect at first. Make sure you give yourself enough time to adapt to new styles and cultures throughout your travels so you can get a feel for the common communication style in each region. If you’re having trouble getting comfortable with patients over time, consider meeting locals at community events on a more regular basis to expose yourself to the culture around you and maybe even ask questions.

If one thing’s for sure about treatment, it’s that change is constant. This is even more evident for travelers. When faced with a group of patients who come off a little headstrong at first, don’t let it throw you off. Instead, have an open mind and gain perspective from a different point of view. This gives you an opportunity to try new techniques that mesh well with your surroundings. Flexibility in terms of actions and communication can encourage those around you to do the same.

Relationships are essential for treatment

It can be more difficult for patients to trust your advice and take it when they don’t feel comfortable with you, especially when there’s a communication barrier. Allowing time for your patients to talk about their lives with you builds a strong relationship, creating a better overall experience for both parties.

“Have an open mind and gain perspective from a different point of view”

Take time during each session to get to know your patients. Simple five minute conversations that don’t relate to therapy can help them open up and feel less insecure about the meeting. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, quick, regular conversations with patients give the therapist the foundation needed to understand each patient’s social history, routines, habits, values and more. By understanding these aspects of your patients, you can provide better treatment that is more specific to their needs and wants.

Remember: Traveling across the country means engaging with dozens of different personalities on a regular basis. Adapt accordingly to avoid offending patients so you can successfully connect with everyone in your practice.

Following the “cues” of folks around you is important as you attempt to build relationships and explore new regions nationwide. While every city and town can have it’s own little quirks and differences, regional shifts in culture can be broad.  Just by paying attention, you’ll gain enough perspective to successfully forge new paths and build a career you love.

Empty nesters: Why you should become an RVing travel therapist

Becoming an empty nester can be bittersweet. The kids are gone (or grown), but now you have the opportunity to get out, explore, and pursue hobbies and career ventures you couldn’t in the past. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of taking your therapy talents across the country but felt too insecure about uprooting your family and starting over. Now, you can exercise your passion to care for others wherever you feel, and you don’t even have to worry about signing a lease or putting money toward a short-term hotel stay.

That’s because you and your partner or even best-friend can take the wide open road to your next travel therapy job and enjoy the journey in each other’s company. Here are a few reasons to consider investing in an RV for the rest of your career as a travel therapist:

Convenience & Community

Packing up and moving from place to place can be stressful for some traveling therapists. That’s why owning an RV is the perfect solution for therapists ready to hit the road. Not only do you have everything you need from town-to-town, but in every new location you’ve got an automatic community around you. Whether it’s Leo’s Campground in Key West or Big Pines RV Park in Central Oregon, you’ve got a community of folks ready to get to know you from the second you hook up your electric.

Adventure is Your Middle Name

Travel therapy already comes with a taste of adventure. You’re traveling across the country with a motivated mindset, inspired to discover what the rest of the U.S. has to offer. Taking an RV to your destination adds another layer of excitement; you can take tourist stops along the route, camp, or enjoy the simplicity of sightseeing as you drive. Most of our traveling therapists take their time getting to their next destination, just to have time to explore. Are you ready for a mini-vacation every 3 months?

travel therapist in rv

Quality Time with Your Favorite People

If your partner has the flexibility in their work schedule – or even better, is currently enjoying retirement – RVing allows you to spend some time together during your career as a traveling therapist. On the other hand, your kids, grand-kids or other close family members and friends can join you at your destination. You’ll be able to get-in that family time you’ve been missing while driving between assignments or by taking assignments near family. It can even be a mini-vacation if you plan ahead!

Lots of Job Opportunities

There might be a plethora of job opportunities available, but managing the travel can be difficult if you’re relying on transportation by airplane. Think about how easy it can be to pick up a new assignment when you’re traveling by RV – you don’t have to worry about making arrangements to and from the airport, booking the actual flights and putting money toward the travel. Instead, you already have your transportation and housing ready to go whenever you need.

If you’re ready to hit the road but you don’t have an assignment lined up, take a search through our jobs or talk to a recruiter to find your travel therapy opportunity. Adventure awaits!

Heading to the Midwest this summer? Here’s where to kayak

Now that summer’s here, it’s a great time to start thinking about where your next travel therapy adventure awaits. If you’re looking for a destination that lets you embrace Mother Nature, the Midwest has an abundance of kayak spots that encourage you to get outside and soak up the sun on your off days.

As with any sort of activity, kayaking is a challenging recreational sport that can improve overall well-being. It also encourages self-dependence and allows you to become one with nature, which can induce mental clarity and wellness.

No matter your reason for kayaking this summer, here are a few places to get out there if you’re headed to the Midwest for a travel therapy assignment:

1. Lower Wisconsin River

Located in southwest Wisconsin, this river flows through Wisconsin to the Mississippi at 92 miles long. The river is wide and has various sandbars so you can take a break from your water trek to enjoy a nice picnic or even pitch a tent for the night, according to Midwest Weekends. Because the sandbars are constantly moving from the current, it’s important to go into this adventure as mindfully so you don’t get stuck, as Lynne Diebel, a Wisconsin resident advised.

“Always remember to wear a life jacket while kayaking as a precautionary measure.”

“It’s the kind of river where you’re mesmerized by the beauty, and your attention wanders,” Diebel told Midwest Weekends. “But you have to pay attention to the current, because the sandbars are constantly shifting, and you’ll run aground.”

Always remember to wear a life jacket while kayaking as a precautionary measure.

2. Chicago River

Kayaking doesn’t have to take place down a traditional woodsy setting. Those who live for city life can also paddle down the Chicago River while surrounded by breath-taking downtown sights. Rent a kayak from various vendors like Water Riders and enjoy this urban experience during your stay in the Windy City.

3. Multiple rivers in Huron-Manistee National Forest

If you’re looking for a spot that’s equally scenic and soothing, head the Huron-Manistee National Forest. There are five different wild rivers for kayaking, including Ausable, Manistee, Pere Marquette, Pine and White river. Each ranges from a light to average flow, so it’s perfect for those who want to take a pleasant stroll down the water. You can also fish for salmon, steelhead and more while you row, according to the National Forest Foundation.

Summertime makes it easy to spend your days off and time in between assignments out in the fresh air. No matter where you’re headed this summer, take advantage of the natural splendor, and try a new outdoor activity. If you’re intrigued by the kayak spots above and want to find a travel therapy assignment in the Midwest, search through the Jackson Therapy Partners database or contact a recruiter today.

Check out these spring festivals coast-to-coast

Spring has officially sprung, which means you can head outside and spend more time enjoying the gorgeous weather, fresh greenery and other splendor Mother Nature has to offer. While many will escape to their backyards or neighborhood parks to enjoy the spring sunshine, travel therapists like you can pack up and head to a gorgeous location for an assignment with a spring festival nearby.

Looking for a fun new destination to check out this season? Consider pursuing a job near one of these spring festivals happening in the country over the next few weeks:

Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gifted Washington, D.C. 3,000 cherry trees as a symbol of friendship between Japan and the U.S., according to Arlington National Cemetery Tours. As a celebration of these floral tokens, Washington D.C. holds the National Cherry Blossom Festival every spring. This year, locals and travelers alike will gather between March 20 and April 14 to celebrate with various events that entail blossom viewings by bike, art gallery views and the Pink Tie Party.

California Poppy Festival in Lancaster

Looking for a floral celebration on the West Coast? Check out the California Poppy Festival. Presented by the city of Lancaster on April 27 and 28, this wildflower celebration gives visitors a chance to soak up the sun and experience the joy of blooming poppies. Enjoy entertainment by dance, orchestra and vocal performers and pursue various family-friendly attractions like the petting zoo, arts and crafts zone, and the car show.

Head to Lancaster for the California Poppy Festival.

New Orleans Wine and Food Experience

Looking for an enriching experience down south that showcases the best food and drink Louisiana has to offer? The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience will celebrate its 27th anniversary this year between April 4 and 7. It’s a celebration that emphasizes over two dozen of the city’s restaurants and brings a selection of 1,000 different wines from all over the world for visitors to indulge in cultural splendor. What’s best? The festival is also a charity and has raised over $1.2 million for many local non-profit organizations since its inception.

Lilac Festival in Rochester, New York

Spring is all about celebrating the rebirth of Mother Nature’s finest, and Rochester, New York, takes part in the love for flowers as well. The Rochester Lilac Festival in Highland Park is the largest free festival in the country, encouraging visitors to check out the gardens, musical performances, special events and other fun and exciting exhibits the town has to offer. Art in the Park, the Lilac Parade, Garden Battles and the wine and beer tasting expo are among the events to check out between May 10 and 19.

Looking for a travel therapy assignment located near one of these fun spring festivals? Browse through the Jackson Therapy Partners database today to look for opportunities in your desired destination.

4 new year’s goals for Traveling Therapists

continuing education

How are you doing with your new year goals, so far? While some of you have focused on bettering your  health – especially with exercise or improved diet – others of you are getting organized or letting go of past grudges. Maybe you’ve even considered a new career path or simply bettering your current position professionally. The truth is, it’s tough to self analyze and come-up with attainable goals every year. So, this year, we did it for you.

1. Explore new perspectives, advance your education

Therapy is an incredibly diverse field that’s rich with case studies, differing viewpoints, and the latest techniques. As you know, there’s always something new to learn. This year, don’t just spend time continuing your education. Instead, engage in new dialogues, join new groups, or even take a course studying a perspective you’re not fully aligned with. Perhaps you can do your own research and build a 2019 reading list challenge for yourself. At minimum, attend a conference or workshop near you. Use 2019 as your year to grow.

2. Start practicing what you preach

No matter what type of therapy you practice, you’re intervening in a patients life to help them heal, overcome, and progress forward. What do you need to overcome? What’s standing in your way of being more healthy, more clear-headed, or just more? This year, practice what you preach. When you suggest a new type of exercise, try it yourself. If you’re recommending a plant-based diet, give it a go for a month. If you’re advocating for a new option for stress relief, check it out on your own. Don’t just help your patients, help yourself.


 3. Network more 

As a traveling therapist, there’s an everlasting drive to explore. Sometimes, the adventurer in you can take priority over your professional growth. Don’t miss the opportunities locally and online to rub shoulders with other professionals in your field. According to the Career Addict, not only can you help up-and-coming professionals through mentoring, but you’ll open doors for yourself whether it’s a move-up, a move geographically, a move into becoming more of an “influencer” in your field through speaking events or writing opportunities. If for no other reason, life as a traveling therapist isn’t all roses so, you can benefit from the positive reinforcement of being with others just like you.

4. Get outside of your comfort zone

Yes, travel therapy is for those with a case of wanderlust, but you may have found yourself slipping into activities or living in areas inside your “comfort zone.” It’s time to challenge yourself and grow a little bit. Start by reevaluating where you’ve traveled over the last few months. If you’ve ended up on the east coast for most of your career in travel therapy, head to California for an assignment. It’s a new culture with a new environment and certainly, a new world of adventure waiting for you. If you’ve stayed in the continental U.S., check out the job opportunities in Hawaii or even Alaska.

No matter what year it is, your end goal should be to grow as a traveling therapist. We hope these resolutions will help you throughout the year to increase your chances for sustainable professional and personal growth.