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As I'm typing this column, I'm intensively preparing for my PhD oral examination. I've noted in this space that I'm seeking a degree in performance psychology from the University of Exeter. My brain right now is filled with terms like "composite reality," "resource caravan," "meaningful minimal benefit" and "lexical hypothesis." But of course life isn't stopping while I study. For instance, this week my wife and I are housing a family of 6 who are in town for a funeral.

As we've spent time with them, we've seen that a lot of tough things—problematic variables—are happening in the life of each family member. I won't go into details for privacy reasons. But, as someone who spends a lot of time trying to help people improve their life, I keep thinking, "Where would I start in cases like theirs?"

One thing I know from my PhD studies is that limiting variables is key to effective research. The more variables there are, the less reliable the data. As I was thinking about this, a connection between my current studies and this column jumped out at me. As a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant who's offering wellness services to clients, 1 of the biggest benefits you can confer to them is helping them limit their variables.

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