EPISODE 9 – Grant "Wattie" Watson, part 1: Involve Me and I Will Understand

Personal Background:

Originally from England but raised in New Zealand and has practiced, both he and his wife, also a physiotherapist, in New Zealand and England.   


Professional Background:

His professional background began in 1973 in New Zealand in physiotherapy school and he continued to train with emphasis in manual and manipulative techniques learning to manipulate every joint in the body.  In observing the McKenzie method for one of the first times he was quite impressed, remembering his thought of how powerful empowering patients in self-management was.  

He saw the McKenzie Method as a return back to true “rehabilitation”, as he defines it: “Rehabilitation is an educational and problem solving process aimed at restoring a state of health and well-being thereby restoring independence.”

He completed his diploma in MDT in 1993.  He was promoted to English faculty in 1995 and later began teaching in NZ in 1997 and later began as senior faculty teaching internationally.  He’s taught in at least 35 different countries.

Through teaching in so many different countries he finds there are some cultural differences although he finds there are more similarities than differences.  Most of his teaching has been in countries with non-English speaking countries or with English as their second language.  Being sensitive to their cultural differences has been a process but he finds that self-care philosophy fits in any cultural.

He explains that so many countries have achieved their own chapter because of one or a few extraordinary individuals that have dedicated themselves to bringing it to their area.

Wattie finds that one of the more common issues that affect students’ learning and adopting of the MDT principles is their difficulty of leaving behind their own philosophy or prior systems they’ve been trained in.

We tend to continue to think, as therapists, that since we are therapists we do things to our patients not, “what can this patient do for themselves”

He says, the evidence suggests that if we use the MDT system in its form we will get a clearer understanding of the response through testing.



A quote that is memorable and relevant to Wattie. 

“Tell me and I may forget, show me and I may not remember, but involve me and I will understand.”

He feels that it fits with patient education and for him it fits with his students.  

He uses humor often when appropriate and he says, “adults are just kids in big bodies!”  He understands that the more fun people are having the more they remember.


Greatest Challenge:

The greatest challenges he believes are related to outcomes.  He believes it would be fantastic  if we could, for the institute, develop some form of outcome measure.  Another thing he’d like to see is an electronic assessment template.  


Primary Strength:

Our primary strength Wattie sees, lies within the single greatest concern in healthcare as a whole,  cost.  And so much of the efforts and money are going toward more therapies or studies focused on the biomedical model.  And with MDT focused on patient-centered elements and the biopsychosocial model that positions the MDT clinician in a good position.