7 Soft Skills for Physical Therapists

7 Soft Skills Physical Therapy Owners Need to Succeed

(Updated March, 2024)

As a physical therapy owner, you confront all sorts of challenges and unique scenarios that you never had to face before you started your own practice. Or maybe you haven’t launched your practice startup yet, but are wondering how to get there.

Wherever you are on the journey toward starting your own physical therapy practice, you’ll benefit from investing in your soft skills. After all, being a great clinician doesn’t mean you’ll be a great CEO. These seven soft skills for physical therapy owners are some of the most important to develop right now.

7 Soft Skills PT Owners Need to Be Successful

1. Develop an Owner Mindset

One of the most crucial soft skills to develop as a physical therapy owner is an owner’s mindset. You aren’t just a physical therapist who happens to own a practice, but that’s how far too many owner-practitioners behave.

An owner mindset puts your status as a practice owner before your status as a practitioner. In every encounter, every scenario, you’re thinking of the needs of the practice first.

2. Grow Your Confrontation Skills

As a physical therapy owner, you will face situations where confrontation is unavoidable. When there’s a problem, often there simply won’t be anyone else in a position to confront it.

Most people don’t like confrontation, and it’s okay if you don’t, either. But whether it’s an unruly staff member, patient, or even a situation with your landlord, you will eventually need to do some confronting.

In any confrontation, it’s important to clearly say what needs to be said, while remaining calm and polite. In other words, you still want to be you as you do it.

This isn’t easy for most people. Grow that skill set by studying principles of effective communication and confrontation.

3. Understand the Value of Clear Communication

As a practice owner, your ability to communicate clearly at all times and to all people is crucial. It can be the difference between success and failure.

To truly communicate well, you must understand what the other person is saying so well and fully duplicate it in a way that fosters agreement. And the same is true for the person speaking with you. Only once you reach this level of clarity can the communication cycle be complete.

4. Engage in Active Listening

Very often, people listen to respond rather than listen to understand. If you find yourself preparing your reply while the other person is still speaking, you’re failing to listen actively.

An active listener prioritizes understanding the speaker’s message above all else. An active listener may also respond with statements such as “If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying ___; is that right?”

This technique shows the speaker whether you’ve truly understood and invites the speaker to clear things up if you haven’t.

5. Nurture Adaptability

Physical therapists must have a degree of adaptability – so, if a particular approach isn’t working with a patient, it may be time to try another one. But as a physical therapy owner, you need a far deeper level of adaptability.

Being able to pivot in an ever-changing environment is a soft skill that can set you apart from the competition.

6. Develop Rapport

Great physical therapists can develop rapport quickly with their patients. But as a small business owner, you have many more audiences to consider. 

Your office staff or other therapists in your employment, the community, vendors and external business contacts — all these relationships reap greater dividends the more rapport you can develop.

7. Deepen Your Understanding and Empathy

Related to active listening and clear communication, understanding and empathy are must-have soft skills for practice owners. When you can see a situation from another’s perspective and be patient enough to hear what they have to say, you’ll be in a better place to find common ground and move forward.

Trust MEG for Your Practice Management Coaching Needs

Wherever you are on your independent practice journey, these soft skills will help you succeed. Often, though, we’ve found that current or prospective physical therapy owners need more hands-on help and coaching in order to structure their business for success right away.

MEG Business offers practice management coaching to physical therapist practices of all sizes. If you’d like to see how we can help you streamline operations, let’s set up a free practice assessment today.

4 Keys to Practice Management Success

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