Accountability is a Two-Way Street | Kate Youngblood PTA


I began my career in Physical Therapy in 2010 as a technician, with absolutely no training and no knowledge of most sports. I had been a barista at a certain popular coffee chain for 3 years and became acquainted with PT through my own rehab following a knee injury (ask me about how the injury happened if you want a good laugh). I had no idea at that time where I would be now.

When you spend $5 or more on a fancy coffee drink, you want it to be perfect, and I thought I’d experienced it all with regard to how my mistakes could affect others after 3 years working in that environment. Let me just say that when you mess up someone’s fancy coffee, they are often not very kind when telling you. It’s funny, too, because some coffee drinkers can come up with the most complicated concoctions, making errors almost inevitable! The most complicated drink I remember was “an iced triple grande, 2/3 decaf, sugar-free vanilla, half breve/half nonfat, extra caramel, upside down caramel macchiato with 5 ice cubes and I WILL BE COUNTING.” No, I’m not kidding, and I’m sure you baristas know I’m not exaggerating. Of course, I always tried to get things just right as a barista (I’m nothing short of a perfectionist, after all), but as I prepared to start school and begin my job in physical therapy, I was acutely aware of how switching to a health profession would add a lot more weight to the consequences of my mistakes.

Aside from the obvious, learning to optimize my skills in PT, my experience in the health field has taught me a lot about who I am as a person. I’m a firstborn, self-critical perfectionist with a tendency toward giving up when the going gets hard. The human body is complicated, to say the least, and I was fully aware of my ability to alter someone’s life if I did something wrong! So, I took my education very seriously…just ask any of my classmates!

With this background in mind, I hope it starts to make sense why I am minorly obsessed with the topic of accountability. What is more admirable than a person who owns their contribution to a situation and takes all the necessary steps to correct it? However, accountability is a two-way street, and no avenue of life is exempt from the power accountability (or the lack thereof) has to improve or destroy our relationships.

In the coffee world, a customer who fails to order their drink “iced” rather than “hot” should not be shocked to receive a hot drink. Blaming the barista for not reading the customer’s mind is the opposite of accountability (and is just ridiculous given the lack of progress with regard to mind reading technology). So, just because “the customer is always right,” they are not free from the obligation to communicate clearly, for example. I believe this principle of two-way accountability applies in all relationships, and in all professions. We owe everyone our accountability (including ourselves), as much as we require it from them!

How does this apply to the physical therapy patient, from the athlete to the little lady with back pain? “I want to play professional football” is incongruent with “I haven’t been strengthening outside of treatment.” “Nothing makes my back feel better” is incongruent with “I haven’t been doing the stretches my therapist prescribed.” If you want what you say you want, you must do what is required to achieve the result! How do you expect to make it big in sports if you fail to put in the necessary training? And how do you know “nothing” makes your back better if you haven’t tried every damn thing to try and make it better?

To accept responsibility (another word for accountability) for your role in your rehab is of prime importance and can dictate much of your success. If you commit to your prescribed therapy and take ownership of your rehabilitation, you will be in a better position to communicate your further needs with your therapy team, making your progress complete! Look at yourself and determine what you can do to make the change…and we promise we will do the same when providing your custom physical therapy! And, one more thing about fancy coffee: if you must order an iced triple grande, 2/3 decaf, sugar-free vanilla, half breve/half nonfat, extra caramel, upside down caramel macchiato with 5 ice cubes…please accept the fact that something about it will likely not be perfect 😉


Kate Youngblood is a Physical Therapist Assistant specializing in functional mobility and strength. This blog is an extension of her writing promoting health and wellness in every aspect of life. Contact her at or through Facebook to receive recipes and clean eating tips by following this link.

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