Autonomous Motivation: Relatedness


Relatedness is defined as the sense of a shared experience (Walsh, 2011). Clients need to feel a warm and welcome atmosphere to stick to an exercise program. However, clients have different preferences, for example some clients like talking while doing exercise, while others prefer doing exercise in a quiet environment. Generally, practitioners need to show care to- and keep connections with- clients.

As mentioned in the Health LEADS Australia model, Leads Self is an important part of the proposed leadership model. Building effective relationships with clients is crucial to improve their motivation. Proposed strategies include arriving early or leaving work late just to have an extra conversation with clients, or simply giving phone calls to check how they are tracking with their exercise programs. These methods are aiming to show more respect and care to clients. Outside clinical time, strategies such as sending a holiday card, or sending an invitation to a clinic event have been shown to be effective in building client-practitioner relatedness (Cross, 2008).

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Practitioners can also engage with patients in designing the actual exercise program. For example, practitioners can ask the client about their preference on an exercise position, or ask what their home environment is like in an attempt to negotiate with clients an exercise design that complements their home environment. In this way, practitioners show respect as well as autonomy as they design an individualised exercise program that relate to the client’s needs.

When communicating with clients, practitioners can talk about the goals perceived by the client. Then, the practitioner can integrate the client’s goal and the treatment goal. This is essential, because ‘Achieving Outcomes’ is the driving force to ensure clients continue the exercise program.

Furthermore, setting a goal together with the client is a process of engagement, and easy for the client to agree to work on.

Finally, don’t forget that it’s a two way street; practitioners need to be open to changes as well. Feedback from clients are useful for practitioners to modify their exercise programs. Innovations are vital in the leadership theory, as we strive for a rehabilitation program that will maximally benefit everyone, and this cannot be achieved without constant modification and improvement. Meanwhile, feedback from clients is helpful for practitioners to understand the exercises from the client’s perspective. Therefore making a change accordingly is a way of showing respect to clients.

To conclude, the leadership theory is useful in improving the competence and relatedness of an exercise program. These two factors are important to increase the motivation of adhering to an exercise program. With the methods mentioned in the two blogs above, motivation will hopefully be enhanced, and a better compliance to exercise will be achieved.

– BH


Cross, K. 2008. Guiding client progress. IDEA Trainer Success, 5 (2), 12–14.

Self-Determination Theory: A Key to Motivation. Walsh, 2011. Retrieved from


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