Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are the most qualified health professionals to work with persons who stutter. Canadian SLP students complete theoretical coursework in stuttering and many will have had clinical experience with persons who stutter during their training.
SLPs must have completed a master’s degree to practice in Canada and meet eligibility criteria for provincial licensing or regulating bodies, where applicable, or for certification with Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC). While there are no “specialist” designations in Canada, there are many SLPs who work regularly with persons who stutter, allowing them to develop and further skills and expertise, and who gear their continued professional development activities towards deepening their knowledge and understanding of stuttering and stuttering therapy.
Speech therapy can reduce and/or eliminate stuttering in preschool-age children. In school age children, adolescents and adults, changes are possible in the way persons speak or stutter, and in the way they think, feel, and relate to stuttering. Approaches and methods will vary across SLPs.
Stuttering therapy is adjusted according to age and tailored to the individual goals and needs of each person who stutters. Evidence-based therapy combines clinician knowledge, expertise and experience, with information from peer-reviewed studies and research, and the needs and desired outcomes of the person who stutters. Therapy is also a process of discovery. Goals and approaches are selected and adjusted in partnership throughout its course.
Self-therapy, or independently working on stuttering, is preferred by some individuals. The choice is sometimes driven by lack of access to professional help, for various reasons. There are many resources available for individuals who choose this approach; however, there are precautions to consider. Sources of information need to be carefully vetted before following any recommended course of action. While there are commonalities, each person’s stutter and stuttering experience is unique so that what was helpful for one person may not be for another. Stuttering is multifactorial. A person who engages in self-therapy needs to be able to judge and select appropriate activities that are suited to their goals and needs. The outcome of self-therapy will depend on a person’s ability to evaluate and understand their stutter and to be disciplined and courageous when taking important and sometimes difficult steps towards change. Without a person or persons to provide objectivity and support, progress and motivation may lapse. Working with an SLP first, may lay a foundation for more successful self-therapy in future.