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Living A Congruent Chiropractic Lifestyle 

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By Dr. Brian Kelly – Reprinted from UCA 33 Principles Magazine

We have all been given a beautiful philosophy through chiropractic.  It reminds me of classical music, in that the deeper you go in learning and understating it, the more meaning can be gained from it.

I often meet chiropractors or CAs who do the “double-dance”.  This is the situation where what they say relative to the philosophy of chiropractic or how they live their lives, is actually different than what they do in their own lives or practices.  The problem with this situation is that it can lead to confusion as a result of living your life with incongruence.

Here are some questions to ask yourself in determining whether you may fall into this situation from time to time:

Do you recommend to your patients a regular schedule of care, but don’t actually make appointments for yourself?

Do you shun the use of pain medication to colleagues and patients, yet take something yourself if you have a bad headache.  After all, it is a bad headache?

Do you adjust your family members and loved ones on proper equipment (at your office or home) or is it on kitchen chairs for the cervical spine and the floor for thoracic adjusting?

When you get a fever what do you do, embrace and appreciate it, or do you take medication to lower it?   Continuing on that example, do you distinguish that if the temperature of a fever was higher, does that in and of itself make it a more serious infection?

These are important and fundamental questions.  They determine whether you live your philosophy, or if you just speak it.


We know that words are important, very important. What we say and what we don’t say is critical to our relationships and our world view.

BJ Palmer said, “You never know how far reaching what you think, say and do will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.”  My good friend Dr. Tez Molloy, a communications expert, built on BJ’s quote and took it further.  He said, “You never know how far reaching what you don’t think, don’t say, and don’t do will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.”   It is a great concept to ponder.

How many times have we been in situations inside (or outside) the office where we think of an opportunity to say something about chiropractic, and yet we fail to do so? It could be as simple as asking a person in a social situation, “so, have you ever tried chiropractic?”

In the office, they are numerous ways to invite a patient to bring in their spouse or children to get their spine checked.  If your paradigm of chiropractic is a treatment only model, then inviting people in would depend on them having an ache or pain that chiropractic could help with.  Conversely, if your model is a healthy spine and consequently better performance and function, then everyone is a potential patient.

My point is how many times have we miss an opportunity to ask, because we don’t want to be rejected.   The reality is that they are not rejecting you; they are simply deciding not to pursue chiropractic at this time.

Your Family’s Care 

An interesting area of congruence/incongruence relates to how we take care of our own family.

Are they thoroughly examined and X-rayed (if required)?  Is it the same standard of care for your loved ones as it is for your (paying) patients?

The 3rd Party Patient 

Many chiropractors take care of people of whom their care is paid for by a third party. Interestingly in the US, a 2014 Survey conducted by the Chiropractic Economics magazine found that 18% of DCs were practicing a 100% cash office.  No third party payers! This number was up from the year before.

And so the financial congruence question is do all your patients hear the same chiropractic message; or is it different between family and friends; or cash or third party paying patients?

Chiropractic Education 

We can all think back to our college days and the inconsistencies or incongruence that occurred during campus life.   Some of these have become horror stores or even folklore shared at seminars.

When I arrived at Life West in 2011, our Board developed a number of strategic initiatives including defining what our values were.  One of these related to having a congruent experience on campus.

While not reaching this completely (yet), some of these includes:

  1. Removing Coca-Cola from the vending machines.
  2. Taking the white clinic jackets out of the Health Center.
  3. Reviewing our language used on campus.

The Take Home.

So what’s the point?  Living and practicing congruence with your chiropractic values and philosophy, while not always easy, can be very liberating and makes life and your practice easier to navigate.

Dr Brian Kelly is the second only President of Life Chiropractic College West in the San Francisco Bay area.  He is the first non-American to be appointed President to a US chiropractic college, and is the former President of the New Zealand College of Chiropractic.