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How bad stuttering therapy teaches to the test

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that we only understand a concept after we teach it (effectively).  Until then, understanding may largely be an illusion.  Anyway, this past semester, I realized that much of traditional stuttering therapy is largely teaching to the test.  (In other words, the (a) therapist sets the goal as being some kind of fluency objective, (b) skills are taught that meet that objective, (c) treatment is measured in such a way such that the objective is met.)

So I just read a post over at the stuttering forum that describes this phenomenon very well:

I see a speech therapist on a regular basis. I am perfectly fluent during sessions and use my “skills” with no difficulty. The minute I step outside her office, all that goes out the window. I know exactly what to do but my stress level prevents me from doing what I need to. Should I continue therapy? I don’t know that I can benefit any further from it. It’s costly and I feel I’ve learned all I can about speaking fluently. The problem seems to be my negative thinking and poor stress management.

First off–despite my best efforts, I still can’t get an account over at Stuttering Forum.  So mods, feel like showing me some love?  Secondly, it’s time to change therapists–because we’ve got problems.  (1) What are the therapeutic principles?  (i.e., how is stuttering fundamentally viewed by both clinician and client?)  (2) What are the therapeutic values (i.e., what are the long term objectives?)  (3) What are the therapeutic goals? (i.e., what are the short term objectives?)  Just by reading this short post, I’m thinking that the clinician is confused at step 1, and thus has botched 2 and 3.  Sorry, I call them like I see them.

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  1. June 1st, 2009 at 09:29 | #1

    I got an account over there pretty easily, although it did take over a week to get it approved and to be able to post replies.

    I have never had success transferring stuff “learned” or practiced in the “therapy room” anywhere else. I think its just my own resistance. But I agree – if the young person is not having any luck, then switching SLP or discontinuing fluency shaping is the right thing to do.
    I would love to see someone on one of the forums talk about how their therapist spent time discussing things like acceptance, the iceberg, emotional aspects of stuttering, yada yada.
    That doesn’t seem to come up much.

    I made my first two student clinicians deal with that with me. Thats probably why I am viewed as a radical, b/c the student wasn’t getting what they needed, but I WAS.


    Greg @ Stuttering.me Reply:

    It utterly AMAZES ME how the stuttering population is beginning to dictate the values of the field. A perfect example is pagoclone. The field of SLP basically shunned the idea, but couldn’t for long due to Indevus’ web presence and the online buzz around the concept. Now, the field has warmed up a bit.

    And this is a great thing…as the stuttering community increases to assert their rights and experiences relative to the treatment of stuttering and their own quality of life 🙂

    Yeah–you’re radical. 🙂 (And that’s a compliment!)


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