Physical Therapy Assistant Guide

Welcome to the PTA Guide, a physical therapy assistant education & career resource. We have everything you need to become a licensed PTA in your state. A few of the helpful things that you'll find here are information resources by state such as tools and info on PTA Schools, PTA license requirements, PTA Jobs, PTA salary data for states & major cities.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google +

How to Find a Physical Therapist for Your Needs

How to find a physical therapist

Physical therapy is used to treat many conditions and injuries.

There are PT treatments for rotator cuff tears, low back pain, arthritis, tennis elbow, and many many more conditions and injuries but no two PT treatments are the same.

In fact, there are so many different PT treatments that you should find specialists who are physical therapists that focus only on your specific condition(s) and injury.

We compiled the best tools below to help you find a specialized Physical Therapist in your location that focuses on treating your specific condition.

Regardless of what your condition is that led you to asking the question: “How do I find a physical therapist?”

You should be asking: “How to find a physical therapist for my specific needs: my health condition and my insurance?”

In this post we will share all of the tips we have to help you find a PT that has the experience and clinic to treat your given your condition while offering the payment plan to meet your insurance circumstances.

Video: How To Choose A Physical Therapist

In this video, Dr. Scott A. Weiss, DPT shares why and how to choose a physical therapist with the proper experience for your specific needs. He also talks about vetting the PT’s credentials and licensing along with the most important decision factors for you to consider when making your choice in a physical therapist.

Choosing a physical therapist is a matter of health and When matters of health come into question, the most important interested party should always be you.

Health status should take precedence to every individual and as such, you should take the most important step by choosing only the best health care providers at your disposal to ensure that you have the best treatment possible.

The following are some guidelines provided by The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) with regards to the choice of a physical therapist.

Choosing a Physical Therapist

Licensing And Registration Of Your Therapist

Choosing a therapist is quite important in making sure that you receive quality services. Your choice of therapist should take into account his or her credentials and experience.

The very least you should do is to make sure that the particular therapist is licensed and registered by the state. This helps to protect you against any foul play of any kind while at the same time ensuring that the therapist is legally acknowledged to give such services.

This should be extended with regards to physical therapy assistants, who should be licensed and or certified and under the direct supervision of a licensed therapist.

Recommendation: You can use this free tool to verify PT and PTA licenses in each state.

Always insist on receiving therapy from qualified physical therapists. A good indicator of being qualified is the therapist being an ATPA member.

Being a member of this association, therapists are bound to uphold a Code of Ethics which describes the ethos that must be followed in providing service. As such, ATPA therapists are primed to providing high-quality services to their patients.

Review The PT Clinic

While on the look for a therapist, carry out a comprehensive review of all of the prospective therapists.

You should find out their work experience and internet reviews from patients that have received treatment from them.

You should also find out the kind of case that they handle and their specialization. Additionally, you should acquaint yourself with their operating hours and check if it fits your schedule.

Specializations of Physical Therapists

There are many specialties that exist in physical therapy, with each focusing on treatment relating to a specific part of the body.

For instance, the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists (ABPTS) recognizes 8 specialist areas, which include cardiopulmonary, women’s health therapy, orthopedics, sports, neurology, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics and pediatrics.

Other kinds of specialists include prenatal and postpartum therapy, stroke rehabilitation physical therapy and therapeutic treatment focused on a particular part of the body such as the knee, hand, leg, neck and back.

There are even physical therapists who specialize in treating patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Some really great guidance on finding a PT who specializes in treating Parkinson’s Disease was tweeted by none other than the Michael J Fox Organization:

Here are some more helpful articles & tools on how to find physical therapy specialists:

Payment for Therapy Services & Insurance Questions

You should make a point of finding out whether your prospective therapy clinic participates with your insurance provider.

Participating therapist accord their patients reduced financial responsibilities as the insurance provider will cover most of the cost if not all of it. However, circumstances may force an individual to seek therapeutic treatment from a non-participating clinic. Such cases include when specialized therapies are required and when the geographic location of participating clinics is not convenient for you.

Here are the two important questions to ask the physical therapy provider:

  1. Does your practice participate with my insurance company?
  2. Will your clinic submit claims on my behalf to my insurance company

With regards to payment, you should also enquire about your copayment responsibilities that oblige you to put in some out-of-pocket payment for some services.

Although the clinic will give you an estimate of your financial responsibilities, it is always a best to find out the same from your insurance provider.

This is due to the fact that there are other underlying variables such as the requirement of meeting your deductibles before you enjoy insurance benefits.

The First Appointment

Having given you some pointers on choosing a therapist, it is important for you to know how the therapy works on paper.

On your first appointment, the therapist will carry out an examination from which he or she will design a plan for your therapy. The plan may also entail on instructions on what to do at home to enhance the whole process.

Thereafter, it is only a matter of following the set plan and adjusting where needed.

Benefits Of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can do wonders by relieving pain, thus getting rid of the need to take pain medications, which more often than not have negative side effect when consumed for long periods of time.

If you want to read more about the benefits of Physical Therapy then checkout how Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants are changing their patient’s lives.

Freedom Of Choice (No Referral Needed)

Previously you needed a referral from a doctor in order to see a physical therapist. Not anymore, nowadays you have the freedom of choice to access physical therapy.

Your freedom of choice is guaranteed in the entire country with all states and the district of Colombia having provisions that allow you to access physical therapy services regardless of having any physician’s referral or not. This essentially gives you access to PT services without being constrained to a specific practice by a referral.

However, some constraints may arise due to your insurance policy that you have. Some insurance policies and companies require you to visit their primary physical therapist first before turning to another physical therapy clinic. Additionally, other insurance companies limit the list of physical therapists that you can consult and receive care from.

You should check with your insurance company to see if you have any limitations on choosing a physical therapist. Then find the best one within your options.

It is important to be aware of your freedom of choice and uphold it. Some physicians may recommend a specific physical therapist insisting for your therapy to be carried out in their offices or in a practice of their choosing where they have a financial interest.

If this happens to you, then you should know that you are not obligated to receive physical therapy from a specific therapist but instead are able to seek the best therapist at your disposal with the right qualifications.

For a step by step guide of how to find a physical therapist in your region, who is covered by your insurance, as well as how to screen the PT before your first therapy session, checkout: How to Find a Physical Therapist on Wikihow.

Do you have experience finding a physical therapist? Tell us all about your physical therapy experience and the process of finding your PT in the comments below! 🙂


  1. My daughter recently tore her hamstring while dancing. We want to make sure we find the right physical therapist to help her recover quickly. As you mentioned, it’s a good idea to look at the work experience and internet reviews from patients. We’ll do this.

Speak Your Mind