How Do I Find A Great Physical Therapist?

How Do I Find A Great Physical Therapist?

There are a lot of questions that should be asked before booking your first visit at a Physical Therapy Clinic.  Here are some of the most important ones to make sure you are seeing a good clinician and get the personal attention you need for optimal care.

  • Is each session 1:1 with the physical therapist for the entire session, or do aides and trainers carry out my exercise program?
  • How long is the 1:1 time with the PT each session?
  • Are the physical therapists board-certified specialists by the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association)? In what area are their certifications?
  • Do the physical therapists have advanced manual therapy training in spinal and peripheral joint mobilizations and manipulations?
  • Do you have private rooms, or is the clinic one large open room with lots of tables?

Not all physical therapists are created equal.  As in any profession, some are more dedicated that others, and you will receive the best care with a physical therapist who is committed to advanced learning.  Here are a few ways you can find a great PT in your area.


DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy)

  • “The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) is a postbaccaluareate degree conferred upon successful completion of a doctoral level professional (entry-level) or post professional education program.”      – APTA


Link to Find a specialist:

  • This is a link to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.  There are 9 accredited board certification a physical therapist may obtain.  There are strict requirements to become eligible to sit for a board exam and maintain certification, so you if you find a PT who holds an APTA accredited board specialty certification, you know you will be in good hands!

CCS – Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Certified Specialist

ECS – Clinical Electrophysiologic Certified Specialist

GCS – Geriatric Certified Specialist

NCS – Neurologic Certified Specialist

OCS – Orthopedic Certified Specialist

PCS – Pediatric Certified Specialist

SCS – Sports Certified Specialist

WCS – Women’s Health Certified Specialist

Oncology – New specialty added in 2019


Link to Find a Fellow:

  • This is the website for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT).  It allows you to search for those who have completed their advanced fellowship.  Holding a fellowship is the most exhaustive post doctoral level training a PT can get.  It combines clinical work, research, and mentorship.

Initials to look for:  FAAOMPT:  Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists

  • “Fellow” status in the AAOMPT is both a membership classification and a professional credential. As a professional credential, a “Fellow” in AAOMPT is an international recognition of competence and expertise in the practice of orthopaedic manual physical therapy by a physical therapist licensed in the USA. To achieve the Fellow credential, a physical therapist must complete a credentialed fellowship program in orthopaedic manual physical therapy. The “Fellow” is a physical therapist who has demonstrated advanced clinical, analytical, and hands-on skills in the treatment of musculoskeletal (orthopaedic) disorders. Fellows serve their patients and the public by demonstrating excellence in clinical practice, education, and research.”                    – AAOMPT


  • A physical therapist may be certified in Manual Therapy from a variety of different Organizations.  Manual Therapy focuses on joint mobilization and manipulation and provides a physical therapist with advanced hands on techniques to rehabilitate patients.  Each organization teaches a slightly different method of practice, but all lead to advanced clinical practice.  A physical therapist must take a series of courses and pass a certification exam in order to carry one of these advanced designations.

COMT:   Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

MCMT:   Mastery Certification in Manual Therapy

MTC:     Manual Therapy Certification

CMPT:   Certified Manual Physical Therapist

CFMT:   Certified Functional Manual Therapist

Link to find a COMT manual therapist:

  • This is a list of Certified Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (COMT) from the Maitland Australian Physiotherapy Seminars.  This is a highly-regarded manual therapy curriculum that allows for DPT graduates to advances their manual therapy skills in joint mobilization and manipulation.

Link to find a NAIOMPT manual therapist:

  • This is a list by state of Physical Therapist who are certified in Manual Therapy from The North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy


Link to Find a vestibular specialist:

  • This is the website for the Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA).  It allows you to search for those who have advanced training in vestibular rehabilitation.


Link to the APTA:

  • There is a “Find a PT” link on the top menu.  This is the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) website.