Monday’s Modalities: discussion of therapeutic modalities we use, are interested in, wonder about, and work with. New concept – Lessons Learned. Tie in with the experience being a therapist with a stutter, and the merge of SLP and mental health therapies

Isolated thoughts about being a psychotherapist who is also a person who stutters

I tell some clients that I am a stutterer. As in life, I have never worked out exactly how and when to do so. The topic usually emerges during an early session. A few people shared they have stuttered themselves. There have been a couple of odd reactions, like the one person who laughed. Usually I get little reaction.

I ask my clients to open up about their inner most selves. For my part, when I talk I am self-disclosing to them.

And there have been a few nice moments, like the time I told a sight impaired client about being a pws, and he responded with, “Oh, so you’re my first therapist who is also disabled!”  We talked for a few minutes about how this felt to him.

Another day a client was speaking with me intently, and got caught in a speech block. She smiled and said, “Oh, now you’ve gotten me doing it!” We both laughed.

More than once I marveled that I am now do work in which it is my job to sit and talk with people. For much of my life I could not have imagined doing work like this.

Jeff Shames

Monday, October 19, 2015

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Monday’s Modalities: discussion of therapeutic modalities we use, are interested in, wonder about, and work with. New concept – Lessons Learned. Tie in with the experience being a therapist with a stutter, and the merge of SLP and mental health therapies — 6 Comments

  1. Jeff,

    Such a nice reminder of the positive side of self disclosure. I have not always focused on disclosing to my clients.Part of why I do not is that I don’t always remember.

    I wonder what opportunities and experiences I have missed with my clients by not disclosing. Moving forward I will work on remembering to and see where it goes.

    Elizabeth Kapstein

  2. For years, I advertised during the intake session with clients, and I had a pretty standard way of doing so. Now, it varies. Just recently, I advertised during an initial meeting where the client expressed relief, that I “got” what it was like to have a disability, and then, similar to what you shared, we explored some of what it meant to them, and it was a nice opening….

    • Heather,

      Great work advertising. My focus today and moving forward to bring advertising in more often!

      Eizabeth

  3. Thank you, Elizabeth and Heather, for your responses to my piece.

    I part of this is that I realize that I am disclosing that I stutter by the act of speaking, whether or not I actually mention it during the session.

    Recently after a first session with a client, during which I did not tell him that I am a pws, he told me that his grandfather had been a stutterer. I was aware of having speech blocks, and had meant to tell him, but got so involved in the work that I did not do so.

    I thanked him for telling me and was sorry that I had not mentioned the topic of stuttering myself. It is not my style to have an exact way of disclosing – still working this out.

  4. What a touching post you wrote, Jeff.

    I constantly move in and out of the world of advertising my stutter in both personal and professional life. I times I think I am tough enough to not advertise but then I find myself alone in a situation that got over my head and Im trying to swim up out of it without too much mental damage.

    I enjoy being open about my stuttering with clients in agency settings. It has been nothing but a strength to my career as a social worker. I have received a range of positive responses and curiousity I know I play a role model of courage and vulnerability.

    In my private practice, it has been a different journey of when to advertise my stutter or not. I receive phone calls inquiring about my services. This isn’t a time for me to advertise and talk about my stuttering. I also want to present my best on the phone which means Im trying my best to manage my stutter or maybe even hide my stutter. This phone call could be the difference of me receiving a new client or them hanging up and calling another therapist. I feel that negative practice or voluntarily stuttering would be best in these situations – however I am not always at my best to use those skills !!!

    In the private practice therapy session, it’s also a touch and go on how to bring “myself” in the room without taking over the session. I have tried various ways, and continue to explore what’s best. Clearly with my clients who stutter I disclose my own stuttering. However, at times I try too hard to manage my stuttering because I want the client to believe I am competent and successful. It’s tricky and challenging. The private practice part is new to me, and Im willing to keep exploring and receive suggestions.

    Your clients are so blessed to have you. You are such a valuable influence on your clients.
    Thanks, Jeff.
    Much respect!

    Go Mets.

  5. Dear Nora-

    Thank you for your comments, and for sharing your contrasting experiences about disclosing being a person who stutters in the agency setting compared to your private practice. I wish you well in working out this challenging issue.

    Having known you through these years, I know how much you have to offer your clients. I well understand the vagaries of conveying this to a potential client on the phone.

    And yes, Go Mets!

    Jeff

    Jeff