The format to this article is a “hands on” approach to be used by People Who Stutter (PWS) and Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) to address anxiety while empowering attitudes and beliefs about coping with stuttering. Benefits may include improved self-image, communication skills and enhanced self-awareness and self-esteem.
In 1995 the Self Help Group Facilitation Manual was self-published and included mindful activities, for example Yoga, Mindful Walking, Meditation or Acupuncture. This topic was met with skepticism and comments by some in the professional community as well as people who stutter, PWS, “What does this have to do with speech?
Katherine Preston states, “Stuttering is not caused by psychological trauma, unsupportive parenting or mental neurosis. Rather stuttering is a genetically influenced neurological condition.” Further she sites Dr. Scott Yaruss, Director of Speech Language Pathology at University of Pittsburgh, “PWS are not doing anything wrong: they are simply doing the best they can with a neurological system that is not wired for the production of smooth speech.” On personal note, Ms. Preston commented “that is not to say that a lifetime spent on stuttering might not make us prone to anxiety. And that anxiety may in a vicious, escalating cycle, ignite more stuttered speech.”
The exercises provided in this paper are suggested as effective ways for PWS to analyze and manage the anxiety that so often seems to be a part of our stuttering.
Review articles on current stuttering research available by going to http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/stuttering
Topic: Overview of Stuttering
Goal: Increase knowledge and understanding about stuttering
Activity: Discuss your understanding with friend, therapist or in a group
Create a chronology of your experiences with stuttering:
Using lined paper, divide the paper in two parts: left column list significant dates in your life and to the right memorable experiences you had.
Topic: My Stuttering Story
Goal: Validate experiences and share common concerns
Activity: Share your story with friend, therapist or in a group
Describe situations in which you stuttered in the last two weeks.
Topic: Personal Awareness
Goal: To increase personal awareness
Activity: Discuss what you learned about your stuttering with friend, therapist or in a group.
Write down three times when you felt you took a risk in the last month?
Topic: Taking Risks
Goal: Identify a risk taken.
Activity: Discuss Risk and devise a risk you are willing to try with friend, therapist, or in a group
List three times you said to yourself or another person “Yes.”
Topic: Self esteem
Goal: To increase self esteem
Activity: Share when and what situation did you say “yes”. Share with friend, therapist or in group.
Record three positive daily activities you did for yourself: example, meditate, mindful walking, ate breakfast or took a shower
Topic: Daily Holistic Approach
Goal: To increase feeling “good” about yourself
Activity: Identify three daily positives that make you feel good with friend, therapist, or in group
Write a short paragraph answering: “What happens to me when I am stressed?”
Topic: Stress management
Goal: Increase coping skills
Activity: Discuss benefits of coping with stress with friend, therapist or in group
Describe: “What I do to cope with stuttering?”
Topic: Living with Stuttering
Goal: Develop coping skills to deal when you stutter
Activity: Discuss coping management with friend, therapist or in group
Explore how your stuttering affected your expectations in personal relationships, marriage, and education and employment opportunities
Goal: Identify how you protect yourself from being “hurt”
Activity: Share your protective mechanisms with friend, therapist or in group
Address the topic of “letting go” and what that means?
Topic: Letting Go
Activity: Make two columns and label one side “PWS” and the other side “Stutter.” Share whether you feel the two are same or different with friend, therapist or in group.
Discuss how anxiety affects you. What activities do you do to relieve your anxiety? Do you consider mindful walking, breathing exercises, aerobic classes, meditation, yoga, or massage and acupuncture?
Goal: Coping management
Activity: Participate in anxiety reducing management program and share with friend, therapist or in group
When daily tasks pile up our anxiety levels increase. Create a list of 10 things you need to accomplish during the day.
Topic: Prioritizing and Letting Go
Goal: Coping management
Activity: Rate each task from absolutely crucial to unimportant. Cross out the unimportant ones first. Focus your attention on the most important matters. Share with friend, therapist or in group.
Nearly all of us have been guilty at one time or another and of “catastrophizing” a type of thinking. In Ms. Gregoire’s article, Dr. Frank Ghinassi, Associate Professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, suggests “Our emotions start with our interpretation of events and it’s not so much the facts that drive what we feel, it’s what we think about. It’s the cognitive interpretations we make about the events of our lives that end up driving how we feel.” He introduced probability into our thinking. Ask yourself “What’s the probability of something truly bad happening here?” Castrophic thinking turns from compulsion into a conscious choice. A person has a right to worry, but the question is how much time do you want to spend?”
Topic Mood Monitoring
Goal: To recognize themes that comes up again and again in your life.
Activity: Make two columns and one on the left: describe anxiety inducing situations and the other column calibrates your emotional reaction. Share with friend, therapist or in group.
Write down a short paragraph answering “What happens to me when I am stressed?”
Goal: To recognize how stress plays in your health
Activity: Discuss how you can cope with stress with a friend, therapist or in group.
Gregoire, Carolyn “Work Stress: 5 Tension-Busting Tricks from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/18/managing-work-stress_n_3454501
Preston, Katherine, “Stuttering is No one’s Fault” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katherine-preston/stuttering-is-noones-faul_b_7236154.html
Sugarman, Michael “International Stuttering Group Project” International Stuttering Awareness Day online conference 2005
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