Speech Therapy: What is Right for You?
It is recommended that adults who stutter try speech therapy. However, people who stutter (PWS) are individuals with different needs and expectations, and there is no one right approach. As children, PWS may have got the idea from parents or therapists that stuttering was something to “get rid of”, an idea that persists into adulthood. This may have caused avoidance behaviours and guilty thought patterns that negatively impact life. Today, many therapists take a holistic approach, combining speech techniques to reduce stuttering with exploration of cognitive aspects and coping techniques. Stuttering can be managed, without being eradicated. The Stuttering Foundation has published a very useful PDF entitled Suggestions for Self-Therapy. They recommend “acceptance of the idea that you are a ‘controlled’ stutterer rather than a fluent speaker.”
If you see a therapist, discuss what your goals are. Many PWS find speech therapy helps them with confidence and self acceptance. Others want a more rigorous approach to reduce stuttering as much as possible. Significant reduction of stuttering is a long term process that comes from being fully committed to the learning of speech techniques, and a well-disciplined, self-administered regular maintenance program after sessions with a therapist have ended.
Specialist help is available in two settings:
One-to-one sessions with a speech and language pathologist (SLP). Sessions are usually one hour per week for several months. Depending on your needs and preferences, the focus can be more on learning techniques to reduce stuttering, or on strategies for accepting stuttering and reducing the build-up of negative feelings about it. Most speech language pathologists work in private practice. See our clinics page for information on where to find a specialist.
Intensive courses for two-three weeks. These involve several hours a day working with a small team of therapists and other people who stutter. Courses are usually for 2 or three weeks with follow-up sessions in the months after the course. There are courses in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. See our clinics page.