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My mindful physio career – By APA member Georgie Davidson

Careers and University, Physiotherapy, The Health Industry

“In my early years as a physiotherapist I spent a lot of time beating myself up. Trying so hard to ‘fix’ the pain that my patients presented with I felt that I could never do enough. I was never good enough. My clinical reasoning skills where adequate, I had an eye for movement and extrasensory perception through my fingers. Nevertheless, when I listened to the painful stories that my patients shared I could feel the depth of their suffering and it felt that there was something missing from my skill tool box.

Fast forward thirty years. Unlike many contemporaries from my era I am still a clinical physiotherapist! I survived and feel resilient (most of the time anyway) having learnt so much from my explorations to sooth my own sense of frustration and from the thousands of people I’ve encountered with stories of pain. It probably seems a bit like jumping in to the fire but I am now part of a multi-disciplinary team establishing a new pain clinic in a region with one of the highest uses of opioids for persistent pain in Australia.

Mindfulness and yoga has been a big part of my life now for a long time. My personal practice has sustained me through a range of challenges and provided me with a career pathway that has been incredibly rewarding. My role in guiding others has become just that. I no longer feel that I am there to fix anything or anyone. Instead I see that I can be like a mirror for others to see that they already have their own answers. It’s simple but it can be extremely challenging to see the protective shields that we place around ourselves, in our thoughts, movement patterns and in behaviours. But when a safe and supportive environment is created through a strong therapeutic relationship, the protective shields begin to crumble and a process of healing begins with a reforming of connections to already existing inner strength, acceptance and self-worth.

Fortunately, with the healthcare search for accountability, there is a science to mindfulness with a strong and growing evidence base. Clinical research in a range of population groups shows improvement in physical and mental health and neurophysiological studies suggest the mechanisms are attentional control, autonomic and immune system balance, emotional regulation and positive neuroplastic change.

It is wonderful that contemporary research is now supporting the ancient insight practice of mindfulness. Viewpoints have changed and mindfulness is no longer seen as alternative and odd as it was in my early days. As a result, many young physiotherapists are seeking training in mindfulness-based courses to learn the art of mindful living as a pathway to flourishing. How enriching for our profession!”

Georgie Davidson
Australian Physiotherapy Association Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist
Director of Mindful Movement Physiotherapy, Australia
Physiotherapist – Northern Pain Rehabilitation Services: Northern Adelaide Local Health Network

georgie davidson head shotGeorgie provides embodied and experiential training that brings research findings into the clinical setting to assist people with physical and emotional pain to heal and thrive. She is a mindfulness teacher, musculoskeletal physiotherapist and yoga teacher with extensive training and experience in working with people with pain individually and in group settings. Since her early days as a therapist Georgie has searched for ways that address the complexity of pain as a deeply personal and complex lived experience. She offers an integrated approach guided by neurophysiology, psychology, yoga, mindfulness and the courageous stories of people with pain. As an innovator in this field Georgie teaches courses for health professionals, students at Flinders University and the University of South Australia and is frequently invited to speak at conferences.

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