Disorders of Fluency are my favorite areas of therapy. I find it fascinating that such an organic process such as speech could have so many non-organic factors that affect production of speech. There is the classic organic factor of heredity, but then the list of non-organic factors begins. I do find the anxiety issue that is related to stuttering the most fascinating. Anxiety can be related to both the process of stuttering as well as the emotional makeup of the client.
Once the client comes through the door of the therapy room, the therapy process begins for me. I try to imagine the angst the individual is going through that has brought him/her to this point of needed connection. For adults, it is a difficult process to continually feel the need for therapy as they move through life. I have seen the effects of stuttering on the clients emotional, social, and educational worlds.
It’s all about trust! Once the trust is established, we build together the fabric of the self for the client. We establish a positive outlook on the communication process. I try to enable the client to be the decision-maker as to which technique suits them best or feels the best to him/her. Once we achieve that quiet moment of fluency in the therapy setting, the confidence building begins. The self-confidence piece is a big hurdle to jump over, but once we complete that process, it becomes a smoother path.
The carry-over is up to the client regardless of age. Each client needs to find that inner peace that enables them to move on from the behavior that has “blocked” their forward path to communication and conquer the fears established through stuttering. We break it up into small pieces through therapy with the understanding that they can be independent of the therapist.
It is essential for the client to know that they can survive as a communicator with some disfluencies in their life. No one is ever completely free of the behavior, but the understanding that it is a characteristic rather than a behavior is so important. It is like your hair color or your height, not a bad thing just a piece of “you”. Stuttering will return from time to time, but will not overshadow you as a person who can communicate and who has valuable things to say to the world. It should never stop you from being who you want to be.