Friday, December 16, 2016

Are you considering speech therapy?

If you as an adult or teen are considering speech therapy, the following tips may assist you:

1.   There can be no doubt that some people find stuttering therapy useful, either in the form of counselling, learning speech techniques, doing exercises provided by the therapist etc. Conversely, others complain that they have not been helped adequately. Often they say that they quickly achieve relative fluency when in the speech clinic, but are unable to maintain this fluency outside of the clinic.

2.   Therapy can be either one-to-one sessions with a therapist or group therapy, often in the form of a workshop or intensive course. While one-to-one sessions can be useful for clients who are hesitant to speak in a group setting, group therapy has the benefit of meeting other people who stutter, so providing opportunities for sharing problems and helpful experiences.

3. Much will depend on your expectations of therapy. Chronic stuttering is difficult to cure 100%. A more realistic expectation would be to aim at improved management of the disorder. Work toward clearly defined, practical goals such as speaking on the telephone, or making presentations before an audience, rather than a vague ideal of better speech.

4. Find a therapist who specialises in stuttering and has the professional qualification to back it up. Speech therapy encompasses many speech disorders, and stuttering is only one of them. These days, the field has broadened to such an extent that, in some countries such as the US, a student therapist can qualify as a speech pathologist / therapist without actually having followed a course in stuttering.

5.   Much will depend on the therapist and her knowledge and skills, as well as her view of stuttering. As in all professions, some professionals are better than others. Some will specialise in one particular approach or technique; others will be flexible in applying a treatment type according to the needs of the client. If you find that you are not making progress with a particular therapist, or a particular type of treatment, you should discuss this with her so that another treatment may be tried; or it may even be necessary to find another therapist.
6.   Try to improve your own knowledge on stuttering, as a preparation for therapy. Join a few Facebook groups for people who stutter; read some of the free online books on stuttering HERE.  Stuttering is to a large extent stress-related, so improve your knowledge of stress and how it can affect stuttering. Eg. the improvement often resulting from therapy within the clinic may be the result of reduced stress levels as you become comfortable with the therapist; outside of the clinic, however, all the usual stressors in your life may still be present, thereby impacting on fluency.

7.   If you are considering following an intensive group course from an organisation treating people who stutter, make sure that it is not a bogus money-making scheme – ask around on the internet. Ascertain if they offer long-term follow-up support and refresher events; don't trust them if they offer a quick cure. Ask if the first day of the course is free or if the fee is returnable should you decide midway that the course is not for you.

8.   Last but not least: Speech therapy seems to work best where there is a shared responsibility between client and therapist. Stuttering therapy is actually for 99% self-therapy; the therapist can only advise and guide, but it's the client who has the problem and who needs to do the real work. In other words: Become your own "therapist"! Wishing you all the best in your journey.

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