Revolutionizing Physical Therapy: Dr. JJ Thomas’ 3-Step Method

I’m thrilled to share insights into the dynamic and ever-evolving world of physical therapy. In this field, we’re constantly seeking innovative ways to enhance patient care and outcomes. As we navigate various challenges and advancements, staying informed and adaptable is crucial.

I bring over two decades of experience in physical therapy, focusing on developing methods that improve patient outcomes and streamline our practices. My journey has led me to create the 3-Step Method, a transformative approach that has significantly impacted my cash-based physical therapy practice.

In the below video, I dive into the specifics of this method. It’s designed to be simple yet profoundly effective, ensuring that we, as therapists, can provide the best possible care while nurturing our practices’ growth and success. Join me as we explore this innovative approach together.


My Journey in Physical Therapy

My journey in physical therapy has been both enriching and transformative. After graduating from the University of Delaware, now regarded as a top physical therapy school in the nation, I ventured on a path that has spanned over two decades. This journey has been about treating patients and constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in our field.

A Diverse Skill Set for Holistic Care

My approach to physical therapy is rooted in a diverse skill set. I hold multiple certifications in advanced specialty techniques, including dry needling, movement analysis, and various joint, soft tissue, and neural mobilization methods. These skills enable me to provide holistic care that addresses each patient’s unique needs.

Leading with Innovation and Education

Innovation and education have been the cornerstones of my career. I’ve had the privilege of teaching and mentoring fellow professionals in physical therapy, chiropractic, and sports medicine. By sharing my knowledge and experiences, I aim to elevate the practice of physical therapy, ensuring we all can offer the best possible care to those we serve.

Unveiling the 3-Step Method

I’m excited to share with you the core of my practice’s success: the 3-Step Method. This approach is the culmination of years of experience and innovation in physical therapy. It’s designed to be straightforward yet incredibly effective, ensuring we provide top-notch patient care.


Step 1: Comprehensive Evaluation


The first step is about understanding our patients deeply through listening with questions in mind. This involves a thorough assessment that goes beyond the immediate symptoms. We look at the whole picture, including lifestyle, movement patterns, posture, and underlying conditions. This holistic view allows us to tailor our treatment plans effectively.

Listening with intention is crucial. Finding out how irritable their symptoms are through thorough listening and developing questions will be the best thing for the patient.


In this 3-step process, we must observe our patients in-depth, all the way down to the skin. The skin, one of the biggest organs in the body, is going to reveal a lot about what’s happening underneath in the neurovascular system.

I once treated a mom who contracted poison ivy after running in the woods. It was on both shins, and it was responding to steroid treatment. After further questioning, she said she had a back issue a while ago. On a separate day, we looked at his back and treated that, and the shins and the skin revealed an underlying neuromuscular skeletal muscle function deficit.

The skin will reveal a lot if you let it.

Investigation Process

We have a framework based on what we’ve listened to and what we’ve observed and questioned in our minds. Our specialty as physical therapists is the neuromuscular skeletal system and how it relates to movement and pain — so our investigation is centered on movement.

I encourage you to find your own method that will help you analyze movement from head to toe and look for patterns that will highlight contributing factors that you might miss if you aren’t trained to look for them.

There are two things you will look for in this investigation process: reproducible signs and major movement deficits.

These three focus areas aren’t just a treatment protocol; it’s a philosophy that places the patient at the center of everything we do, ensuring they receive the best possible care.

Step 2: Testing

Once we have a complete understanding of our patient’s needs, the second step involves implementing targeted treatment. This could include a combination of manual therapy, dry needling, and specialized exercises. The key here is personalization – each treatment plan is uniquely crafted to address the patient’s specific issues.

Step 3: Reinforcement

The final step is perhaps the most crucial — reinforcing whatever our patients need so they can eventually be free from us. This involves educating them about their condition, the treatment process, and how they can actively participate in their recovery. By doing so, we aid in their current rehabilitation and equip them with the knowledge to prevent future injuries.

Transforming Patient Outcomes with the 3-Step Method

I’ve witnessed firsthand the powerful impact of the 3-Step Method on patient outcomes. This approach has revolutionized my practice and consistently improved patient health and well-being. By addressing the root causes of issues and not just the symptoms, we’ve seen faster recoveries and more sustainable health improvements.

Enhancing Patient Satisfaction and Engagement

One of the most gratifying aspects of this method is its heightened patient satisfaction and engagement. Patients feel more involved in their treatment process, leading to a deeper understanding of their health and a stronger commitment to their recovery plans. This active participation is a game-changer in physical therapy.

Setting New Standards in Physical Therapy

The 3-Step Method has set new standards in the field of physical therapy. It’s a testament to what can be achieved by combining thorough assessment, personalized treatment, and patient empowerment. This method is more than a set of steps; it’s a holistic approach to reshaping how we think about and practice physical therapy, paving the way for a future where patient-centered care is at the forefront.

Practical Tips for Adopting the 3-Step Method

I want to share some practical tips for integrating the 3-Step Method into your physical therapy practice. This method is designed to enhance patient care and can be seamlessly incorporated into your existing practices.

Start by shifting your focus to a more patient-centric approach. This involves actively listening to your patients, understanding their lifestyles, and tailoring your treatments to their specific needs. Encourage your team to adopt this mindset in every aspect of patient care.

Invest in training your team on the nuances of the 3-Step Method. This could include workshops on comprehensive assessment techniques, personalized treatment planning, and effective patient communication and reinforcement strategies.

Introduce new techniques and approaches gradually into your practice. This allows your team to adapt without feeling overwhelmed and ensures your patients receive the highest quality of care during the transition.

Challenges and Considerations

Adopting a new method, such as the 3-Step Method, can come with challenges.

The initial phase of integrating this method may require additional time for patient assessments and staff training. Plan for this by adjusting your schedules accordingly.

Some patients may need time to adjust to the new approach, especially if they are used to traditional methods. Clear communication about the benefits of the 3-Step Method helps ease this transition.

The field of physical therapy is constantly evolving. Staying updated with the latest techniques and research is crucial for successfully implementing this method.

Resources for Further Learning

To help with your journey of adopting the 3-Step Method, I recommend the following resources:

  • My Educational Courses: Explore my courses on advanced physical therapy techniques and patient care strategies. Primal Physical Therapy Courses
  • Free eBook: “5 Things You MUST Do to Build a Successful Cash-Based PT Practice” offers insights into effective physical therapy practices. Download eBook
  • Online Workshops and Webinars: Regularly participate in online workshops and webinars that focus on patient-centered care and innovative treatment methods.

Embracing a New Era in Physical Therapy

I want to emphasize the transformative power of the 3-Step Method in redefining physical therapy. This approach is more than just a set of procedures; it’s a commitment to excellence in patient care, a dedication to continuous listening and observation, and a journey toward empowering patients.

Remember, the core of this method lies in its simplicity and effectiveness. By adopting a comprehensive evaluation, personalized testing, and a focus on reinforcing the patient, we’re not just treating conditions but enhancing lives. This method is a testament to the potential that lies in innovative, patient-centered care.

I encourage you to explore this method further, integrate it into your practice, and witness the positive changes it brings. Please share your thoughts, experiences, and insights. Your feedback and stories are invaluable as they enrich our collective understanding and foster a community of learning and growth.

Together, let’s continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in physical therapy.

About the Author
Dr. JJ Thomas, DPT, MPT, CMTPT
JJ Thomas is the owner and founder of Primal Physical Therapy and Primal University, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. She is an instructor for Evidence in Motion, and lectures and speaks nationally on the topics of Dry Needling, Functional Movement Analysis, and Functional Anatomy. She has been published in IJSPT for her contribution to a commentary on dry needling and consults as a content expert for organizations such as the APTA and FSBPT. In this role, she played a large part in the addition of a CPT code for dry needling through the AMA and was on the task force that helped identify competency standards for dry needling education nationally. JJ works with US Field Hockey teams, and individuals from US Lacrosse, US Polo, USA Track and Field, NFL, NBA, PLL, MLB, and more.
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