January 7, 2021

The Relationship Between Wellness and PT

In her article “Promoting Health and Wellness: Implications for Physical Therapist Practice,” Janet R. Benzer writes that “Understanding and assessment of a patient’s or client’s wellness enables the physical therapist to guide the patient or client to make connections between healthy behaviors and values or perceptions (eg, wellness) that he or she holds, which can be a strong motivator for adopting healthy behaviors.”

Wellness and PT are two sides of the same coin. Wellness is the reason why we do what we do, and the motivator that (on at least some level) drives an individual to seek the care of a physical therapist.

Wellness is a lifestyle, not a one stop shop. In our fast-paced, quick-fix culture, few people fully comprehend this. Physical therapy does not end when a client walks out the door. Therapy sessions are only the beginning.


To do our jobs effectively we must understand how patient perspectives on health and wellness shape their behaviors and broader lifestyle choices. This requires that we understand both the overarching relationship between wellness and PT, and the factors specific to each client individually.

Wellness puts the “why” behind what we do. We seek to maximize our clients’ quality of life. Our desire is to aid our patients in living and moving fully and freely.

As the American Physical Therapy Association ( APTA) puts it, wellness is “a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of wellbeing.” Is this not our objective?


For many, physical therapists are the gatekeepers of wellness. We are fortunate to serve as educators and empowerers. We know we’ve done our jobs properly when we witness patients employing the tools we’ve given them in their day to day lives, taking control of their own health outcomes.

We stand for healing, not bandaging. Our desire is not merely to treat symptoms, but to work through the kinks that make up the root of a problem. What’s even better? When our observance of an underlying issue allows us to act preventatively, promoting adjustment before injury or ailment occurs.


The more we seek to understand the synergies between wellness and PT, the better our patient engagement, compliance, and outcomes will be.