Earning Trust

This is a Guest Article written by Megan Pomarensky

Remember a month ago, when I said “non-compliance” is not a thing?

I’m still 100% shouting that from the rooftops (well in the clinic and gyms, at least).

Because it’s true.

And important.

So I want to go deeper, and really get into how we can build more trust from the start.

Just because you’re a professional, doesn’t mean clients will automatically trust you, follow what you say exactly as you expect, and get the results that you want.

In fact, the opposite will probably happen. Clients will be skeptical, because they’ve tried programs and therapy before, and maybe haven’t gotten results. Maybe they’ve read a lot, and think they know what they need. Maybe they have a completely different want/goal than what you think they need.

Starting to sweat now, hey?

So I want to go to the next level on this topic and really get into how we can build more trust from the start.
As a refresher – start here.

Now. When we talk about accountability starting with you, the therapist/coach, this is leading by example.

  • Show up consistently – physically, energetically, and emotionally. Predictable = dependable.
    • Where and how will you meet? How often?
    • How and when will you communicate between sessions?
    • How and when will you review progress?
    • Do you manage your energy and emotions?
    • Do you address (potential) issues clearly and directly?
  • Communicate clearly (I’ll defer to Jenny Rearick here:))
  • Create shared meaning
    • You and the client both need to have the same expectations and goals, both be aware of what the plan is.
    • What is the definition of success? Be specific.

And remember,

  • Your first move is most important. And it might even be before you set foot on the training floor. It’s in that initial conversation, where you use emotional intelligence and motivational interviewing, to listen to the client’s whole story.
  • Your number one job is to help the clients feel safe (notice how I didn’t say “tell the client it’s safe to exercise in this way?). We do this by listening to the client, creating a plan with them, then creating a positive experience with movement.
  • Emphasize therapeutic alliance. This is the relationship between the therapist/coach and the client. Research has shown improved rehabilitation outcomes in response to enhanced therapeutic alliance strategies, and that increased positive interactions between the therapist/coach and the client were associated with better function, better perceived treatment effects, and decreased pain/disability.

You might be thinking, cool this is great, and what happens when something (missed sessions, showing up late, deviating from the plan) inevitably happens, though?


Ask yourself; was this situation a one-off, or does it happen often? That will tell you if this is about an incident, or your therapeutic relationship.

If it’s an incident – create a plan (together) going forward with clear expectations of what happens next, and the definition of success.

If it’s the relationship, create a plan (together) going forward with clear expectations of what happens next, and the definition of success.

And yes – you read that right – the answer is the same for both. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter – what matters is your next move.

So knowing that you can earn trust by showing up consistently, communicating clearly, creating shared meaning, helping the clients feel safe, and emphasizing therapeutic alliance; do you see how “non-compliance” doesn’t have to be a thing?

I hope so! Now, go build some trust, stop using the phrase “non-compliant”, and let me know how things go!

Megan Pomarensky is a Certified Athletic Therapist, a Certified Functional Strength Coach and a Certified Vinyasa Yoga Instructor with a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Science.

Over the past 8 years, Megan has built a successful private clinical practice working with clients from professional athletes looking to improve performance to older adults with chronic pain, and everyone in between. Her mission is to empower every client to better understand their body and make informed decisions about their care.

She also helps athletic therapists, trainers and physiotherapists get out of the textbooks, protocols and checklists for better client results.

IG/Twitter @meganpomarensky