“get out of the woods!” Or go into them..

How effective are fear appeals in physiotherapy? What could be said instead?

Does fear move you? 


You might think it does. Watching Taylor  Swift’s video “Out of the woods”  reminded me to ensure I told you what I know about how fear based language actually works (or doesn’t) with moving you forward.

There is some research I came across and referenced at the bottom of this article. It cautions us:

“Given this danger of backfiring, developing a behaviour change intervention that uses threatening elements is ineffective and unethical unless pilot tests indicate that the intervention also reliably enhances response and self-efficacy.”

My philosophy in my practice is that in order to us to help you actually make those necessary moves to indeed get out of these woods (which are a metaphor for places where you feel threatened) it’s my job to help you get comfortable and confident exploring what you can do safely in those woods, instead of talking about how you should get out of them.  There are very individualized techniques we use in our practice to build your confidence and self understanding.

You might be thinking. You can’t just ignore my susceptibility to danger? Aha! You can know your susceptibility and still act without being paralyzed by your fear. Acknowledging your own susceptibility is great, it helps you know what to carry in your backpack. A map, a compass etc etc.


So. Want our help getting comfortable out there in those woods? Let’s explore together. Contact us


Peters, G. J. Y., Ruiter, R. A., & Kok, G. (2013). Threatening communication: a critical re-analysis and a revised meta-analytic test of fear appeal theory. Health psychology review7(sup1), S8-S31.