Hans van Helvoirt MA, Dip MDT/MT


Show Notes

Struggles and Successes

Upon considering what caused him to struggle with helping patients, Hans acknowledges “I’m still struggling.” Now he realizes that his patient has to be in charge of his problem.

Learning more about communication and about being more aware of how we say things and not just what we say has helped.

Learning about inspiring coaching and provocative coaching is also revealing that struggles or success are not always from what we have done but what the patients has in his or her life outside the clinic.

To Hans the patient knows best. He has the truth inside him. Instead of thinking of himself as the important player, he views that he is just the translator for the patient. Hans suggests doing a course on motivational interviewing.

Greatest Challenges

The first thing we have to search for is, is the patient ready to address and take charge of the problem. He thinks about the old saying, If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime… but not every man likes fish! And patients don’t always like an active approach.

Hans admits he spends a lot of time at decatastrophizing back pain. He explains it’s just back pain. Patients are not going to die from it.

Hans doesn’t mean to trivialize the pain because many times it is very painful and limiting but he feels patients can lose a healthy perspective on it. Considering what people expect and want can help us deal with those issues first to better our chances of empowering them to take control of their problem. Dealing with the misconception that random exercise will fix the problem is another issue that becomes a challenge.

Our Primary Strength

The tools to handle these issues are inside the method. What we need to do better outside is explain the method to the outside world. And explain it as more than biomedical. We must be better communicators and move toward public health bringing our knowledge to the general public.

A Memorable Story (one that didn’t go so well)

Hans mentions a Part B course where a physician’s daughter presented who was apparently nervous and what happened upon beginning the repeated  movements had never happened to Hans before.

Best Advice

“Follow your feelings” Hans thinks of when he owned a private practice but had the opportunity to go to New Zealand and do the Diploma program and in spite of everyone discouraging him saying it was a bad time he went and feels that it has been one of the best decisions he’s made. The McKenzie Institute has provided so many chances to do important things and meet important people. He feels he needs to be brave and keep reading and gain more knowledge. That helps Hans speak to physicians and work with patients.

Doing Differently than 10 years ago

Doing much less. Listening more. What he says is very secure, meaning focused and specific.


Email groups where he can share and receive articles. One specific is Research Gate where you can follow certain researchers or topics. Also the Neuro Orthopedic Institute is a great resources for Hans.

Impactful Studies

One study that Hans believes everyone should read is:

A structured physiotherapy treatment model can provide rapid relief to patients who qualify for lumbar disc surgery: a prospective cohort study. Svensson

You can read the abstract here

Personal Habit

Hans believes in the idea to “Make Happy Hormones Free” as he has heard from David Butler.

How that applies is that he makes specific effort to have fun with his patients and use humor to help improve his impact on his patients and his outcomes.