Recover From Stuttering - The Cognitive Stuff

Newsletter 28: June 2012

It’s probably timely to be discussing this issue at the moment as our psychologist, Judy Rafferty, has just released her Cognitive Treatment Program for people who stutter (PWS), 'The Stammer Stopper'. ‘Cognitive’ and related issues seem to be the buzz at the moment for many researchers and people suffering from disorders where the mind plays a major role in outcomes subsequent to treatment.

In relation to stuttering, to say, ’to focus on the cognitive issues is important’ would be the understatement of the century. Any treatment designed to provide PWS with a system to enable them to manage their fluency must go hand in hand with some form of cognitive information or training.

The tried and proven fluency management method of Prolonged Speech, from which came Smooth and Ezy-Speech, provide PWS a brilliant tool with which to break down a stutter and rebuild a path to fluent speech. From research it seems that 85 - 95% of PWS who undertake either an intensive course or other format of retraining in Prolonged Speech manage complete control in a very short time. Technique is relatively easy to learn and adopt during training, especially in a clinical situation.

The problem for many PWS is the maintenance of technique and resulting management of fluency. The stumbling block to maintaining fluency is not that the technique doesn’t work, the technique is brilliant! The reason the management of fluency is lost or reduced is due to the way the individual thinks about situations revolving around him or herself.

The very first thing we ask PWS who are thinking of taking on a therapy program is, “Are you willing to change as a person?” By asking this question, we don’t mean ‘Are you willing to change who you are?’ we mean ‘Are you willing to change your patterns of thinking regarding yourself and how you perceive others are thinking of you?’ PWS understand the sort of thinking we are referring to:
  • I always stutter, I will stutter next time I speak.
  • People think I am odd when I stutter.
  • People don’t like it if I stutter.
  • I embarrass people when I stutter.
  • People don’t respect me when I stutter.
  • I can’t make my point when I stutter.
  • .......and on and on and on...the list goes on forever, varies according to the individual and varies often on a day-to-day basis, depending often on how the person’s fluency is on a particular day. Negative thinking can also perpetuate the severity of the stutter. Anxiety associated with the fear of stuttering is at the core of most stuttering. This leads to less talking, more tension in stuttering and less interaction with others.
When a PWS undertakes a therapy program, it is usually in a controlled environment, perhaps a very supportive and controlled group environment. Everything is OK for the mind to think, ’I’m safe to do this, I need to do this to be happy, to be fluent.’ The fluency program allows PWS to be everything they want to be. Just the thought of undertaking a proven fluency program puts the mind at ease. Success and outcome in this controlled environment where the mind feels very comfortable is usually very good, with most people achieving good-to-excellent levels of control.

The problem is that the controlled environment does not address all the negative thinking that most PWS drag around with them all their lives. Good cognitive training helps PWS understand that not only does there have to be a change in the way you deliver speech but also shows the individual that you need to ‘allow yourself to change’ and that it is OK to do so!

When a good understanding of the cognitive issues are obtained and vital positive changes in thinking are put into place, then real success can be had in terms of fluency management outside that controlled environment. Remember, you have to allow yourself to change for the better.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle, 384 BC-322 BC

Ezy-Speech Affirmation of the Month


How I think about myself and others need not stay the same. I am willing to change and grow.

The Ezy-Speech Team

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