An Interview with Jessica Hartmann, PT on Medical Therapeutic Yoga in Physical Therapy Practice
1. Share with us a brief overview of your business, Integrative Rehab and Wellness, Inc.
Integrative Rehab and Wellness, Inc. opened in 2014 and provides manual physical therapy, medical yoga therapy, and educational services to those struggling with current health issues and those seeking to improve their wellness.
Why did you decide to start Integrative Rehab and Wellness, Inc.? How did you find your niche?
I created Integrative Rehab and Wellness to combine my passions of manual physical therapy, yoga therapy, and education. I wanted to create a space where I could help people with injury prevention, wellness, and any current health struggles they may be facing.
Did you find that client needs weren't being met in other therapy settings? How is the work you are doing a unique offering in your community?
I definitely see a lot of folks who have been frustrated with "traditional" physical therapy (PT) care. I think my patients are happy to be in a place where they feel like their concerns are acknowledged and discussed. Utilizing the biopsychosocial (BPS) model makes me unique as well as the combination of manual therapy and medical therapeutic yoga (MTY).
2. What are some of the biggest hurdles you’ve faced in getting your business up and running and how have you tackled them? What has come without as much effort as you anticipated?
As trivial as it seems, finding the ideal physical space was one of my biggest challenges. I felt very strongly about creating a therapeutic landscape. Patience was definitely key in this situation. Also, I’m not really comfortable marketing myself and putting myself out there. I still continue to struggle with this one. I thought I would have to work harder to build a caseload, but I was busy within just a few months!
What would help you with your struggle in marketing your business? What wisdom would you offer another Professional Yoga Therapist (PYT) looking to start his or her own practice?
I feel like so much marketing is done on social media these days - and I am not a social media person! My goal in the next few months is to become more comfortable with social media and be active with it on a professional basis. I would defintiely say - "GO FOR IT!" to another PT who wants to start their own practice! It's a labor of love, but worth every second!
3. The fee structure of your practice is different than traditional PT clinics which are usually network providers for insurance. Is this a barrier to entry for some of your clients? If so, how do they navigate it?
For most people, it is not an issue. Co-pays are so high and the traditional PT model encourages patients to be seen 2-3 times a week. I see folks once a week or less, so it usually balances out. I do understand that some people really want to use their insurance though! There's a great network of “traditional PTs” that I refer to in those cases. It’s really about building a healthy community and supporting each other!
So from a clinical standpoint, what is it about your approach that enables you to see clients only once a week?
In my opinion, a cash based practice draws a more motivated client base. I expect my folks to work through their home practice when they are not seeing me. I work with them to determine the length of time and days per week they can devote to their plan, and then develop one accordingly. A combination of the approach I take with my patients along with the fact that they are learning new habits and ways of exercising allows me to see them less frequently than the traditional PT schedule. Effective treatment that gets to the root of issues, from a biopsychosocial (BPS) standpoint, makes a huge difference; this process also empowers the client. I encourage patients to utilize me for support, not to depend on me.
4. According to your website, you offer a fair amount of education outreach opportunities- to the public, to yoga teachers, to students in health fields, and to medical professionals. What messages are you trying to share?
That yoga is for everyBODY - when it is done safely!! Also, there is SO much more than asana!
Can you elaborate on that?
I think a lot of people assume that yoga means power vinyasa. Mindful movement, breathwork, and even stillness are such important aspects that most people are not familiar with. I encourage folks to take the time for self reflection and some quiet time throughout their day to support the healing and wellness process.
What are your clients' or students' biggest "ah-ha" moments?
I would say the biggest aha moments definitely come from breathwork! When we work through a breathing practice and they sit up, the look on their face is priceless! A lot of folks don't realize how powerful the breath is to create physical and emotional balance.
5. How has your education at PYTI shaped your career path and how do you envision the future of Medical Therapeutic Yoga?
The education in the PYTI program is amazing - that goes without saying! I am so incredibly grateful for the like-minded professionals that I have met who are determined to spread compassionate healthcare across the globe!
What have been the most valuable principles or tools you've taken from PYTI?
I think using the BPS model in practice has made the biggest difference. We must recognize that the true path to wellness is so much greater than simply correcting musculoskeletal imbalances. Our emotions, our relationships, our beliefs, and the environment we create for ourselves play key roles in our health. When all of the pieces come together, we are able to find the balance of a healthy body, mind, and spirit. If any of the pieces of the puzzle are missing, we are left with that lingering sensation that something still isn't quite right.
How does the healthcare landscape need to evolve to incorporate more opportunities for MTY?
I think that the more we move away from guidelines like "30 minutes of PT 2-3 times a week for 4 weeks" will allow us to actually treat patients according to their needs and enable us to better incorporate MTY. I also think that the more health care providers (HCPs) encourage patients to seek out wellness services, the more we can utilize MTY.
How would you like to reach patients that could benefit from MTY but don't even know it exists?
I think that building bridges with other HCPs and spreading the word through our individual communities is the best way to promote MTY from the ground up!
6. What are some of your dreams for the future?
Wow! Big question! There is so much I want to do! I love patient care and want to keep that up forever! A goal I have is to teach more in the University setting and hopefully with PYTI! I want to combine all of that with travel. I would love to create more online learning opportunities so MTY is available to everyone everywhere.
What needs and opportunities do you see in the University setting? Online opportunities sound exciting! What would that look like in practice since MTY is so hands on?
Many of the University students who I come in contact with don't really have a concept of what "wellness" is. I think it is important for them to realize that it's not just eating healthy or going to the gym. The feedback I hear most often from my students is how stressed they are all the time. They would all benefit from MTY! I'm not quite sure what MTY looks like online yet - but I've been brainstorming!