Choosing the right physiotherapist for you

 In Physiotherapy & Clinics, Tips and Tricks

You’ve been told that you could benefit from physiotherapy, but now what? How do you choose your provider amongst the 15-20 + clinics in your community? The following tips will provide you some guidance when making your choice.

Where to Start?

It can be confusing to know where to begin when looking for a physiotherapist. A great place to start is with your doctor or healthcare professional. If they were the ones who made the suggestion, they usually partner with therapists they have confidence in and may have someone in mind for you. Word of mouth referrals from family, friends or coworkers are sometimes even more powerful. As they have a first-hand experience of a service, they will generally speak truthfully about the care received. Other options include searching online, which gives you the opportunity to see what the clinics can offer on their websites. Convenience may be important to you, so choosing a clinic close to home may be a wise decision.

Other criteria that is important includes the physiotherapists’ qualifications and training, the length of treatment time, and the look and feel of the clinic.


Physiotherapists’ have either a Bachelor or Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from a recognized university. This education provides the basic knowledge to perform the duties required. Most therapists continue learning through continuing education courses. This helps to advance their diagnosis and treatment skills to help improve their abilities and provide more efficient treatment. Having a physiotherapist with more education, credentials, and qualifications can be helpful in your recovery. Some therapist will even have specific training such as in jaw pain (TMJ), running injuries, pelvic floor therapy, to name a few. However, all the education in the world can’t make up for a lack of bedside manner or how comfortable you feel around a therapist. You should always feel at ease with your physiotherapist since you will be working with them for a number of weeks.

Knee Manual Therapy

Treatment Time

A big issue with the physiotherapy industry is the length of time with the treating physiotherapist. Remember, you are seeing a physiotherapist and being charged for that health professional’s time. Industry standards in the greater Ottawa area for the cost of a treatment can be anywhere from $60-80, while the initial consultation can run from $80-100. Generally speaking, an initial assessment can last between 45-60 minutes, so if you have a complex issue you’ll want to make sure it is closer to the hour mark. Treatment sessions are a little bit less standardized. In some locations, you’ll be spending anywhere from 30-45 minutes in treatment and sometimes even up to an hour.

The big difference from one clinic to another is who you are spending that time with. An important question to ask a clinic is how long you will be spending with the physiotherapist specifically. It’s also important to ask how many people the physiotherapist see in an hour’s time. The more people your physiotherapist sees in an hour, the less time they spend with you. Most physiotherapy clinics have their therapists see clients for anywhere from 10-15 minutes (4-6 people per hour) or up to 30 minutes (2 people per hour). If you are only seeing your physiotherapist for 10-15 minutes, you shouldn’t expect to be paying top dollar. Vice versa, if your therapist is spending more time with you, you should expect to pay more. Be mindful that if you are only seeing your physiotherapist for 10-15 minutes, you will be seen by other members of the team such as physiotherapists’ assistants or kinesiologists to make up the rest of the treatment. Be mindful at the quality vs the price of the treatment.

Look and Feel of the Clinic

Another important aspect to consider when choosing a physiotherapist is the actual location, or the look and feel of it. There are 2 types of clinics, either open concept or private treatment rooms. An open concept clinic is usually one big room with a number of beds spaced out that are divided only by curtains. A clinic with private treatment rooms, has numerous separate enclosed rooms with doors, similar to a medical clinic. Generally having a clinic that is clean and bright with newer equipment makes us feel more comfortable. The best way to find out if you are going to be comfortable with a clinic is to go and visit it for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for a tour of the facility prior to scheduling a visit.

open concept clinic

private treatment room

As you can see, there are various elements to consider when choosing a physiotherapist. You will be investing time and money to get yourself feeling better, so you may as well make it an enjoyable experience.

Do you put much thought and effort when choosing your healthcare professional (massage therapist, chiropractor, etc)?

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Showing 11 comments
  • Simon Brooks

    I really like that you remind readers that, if they’re having trouble finding a physiotherapist, then they can always ask their general doctor. Chances are that your general doctor knows a lot about the problem you’re having and which local physiotherapists will be most helpful to you. It’s a great way to start off your search with a couple of recommendations, rather than having to sift through the internet to find what you’re looking for.

    • Bellefleur Physiotherapy

      Hi Simon, thanks for your comment. Yes we agree, asking your Family Physician for recommendations can provide a good starting point on the search for a Physiotherapist. However, let us play the devil’s advocate for a moment. Sometimes Doctor’s have an affiliation or arrangement with certain clinics so we should be mindful of that as the referral may not always be in the best interest of the patient. We always invite potential clients to visit a few clinics and get a feel for them before making a decision as not all clinics are setup the same or provide the same level of service.

  • Kyle Andrades

    Great article! I always enjoy when patients get one on one time as you state!

  • Olivia Nelson

    I agree that you would want to consider a physiotherapist’s credentials before you hire them. I would imagine that looking into experience and education would be really important. I’m looking for someone to treat some muscle and joint pain so I’ll be sure to check their credentials before I hire them.

  • Rachel Lannister

    A good friend of mine needs to find a good physiotherapy clinic, and asked me if I knew how to best do so. I the article it suggests going online and seeing what the clinic has to offer, and seeing if it is close to you physically. Having easy access to the clinic could make getting treatments a whole lot easier and more convenient. Thanks for the tips, I’ll be sure to pass them on to my friend.

  • Kyle Winters

    It is surprising how many people focus only on the physiotherapist themselves and not the rest of the clinic. After all, you will be spending a large amount of time there during your recovery process. You want to make sure that the clinic is not only comfortable, but clean enough to spend serious amounts of time in.

  • Max Jones

    I really like the idea of using physiotherapy treatment because they can be so efficient like you said. I’ve been wanting to look into some help with my knee problems. I have played a lot of soccer growing up, and I think that having a physiotherapy treatment to be able to try and help would be great! Thanks for the ideas!

  • Callum Palmer

    The clinic really does have a lot more impact on the physiotherapist you end up choosing than you might think. After all, if you’re going to see a physiotherapist then you want to make sure that they run a clean and professional clinic. It might also help to check out the tools that they have to make sure that they are using the most up-to-date technology in the physiotherapy field.

  • Gloria Durst

    I agree that the look of a physiotherapist’s clinic would be important to look into. It would make sense to find somewhere that has clean and organized materials because this would be helpful. My sister is looking for a physiotherapist, so she’ll have to find someone who is experienced.

  • Callum Palmer

    I like that you guys go over how important the look of the clinic is when choosing a physiotherapist. A lot of people say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in the case of finding the right physiotherapy clinic that might actually be helpful. After all, if you’re looking for someone to help with your treatment then you want to make sure that the clinic is clean, professional looking, and up-to-date in terms of technology.

    • Bellefleur Physiotherapy

      People often overlook the appearance and cleanliness of a clinic. These aspects are always a reflection of the owners and the operation of the clinic. If the owner ensures that everything looks top notch, they will also ensure that their clients are well taken care of.

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