Pseudo-Stuttering Perspective

I am an SLP graduate student and in both of the stuttering classes I have taken, we completed a project where went out into the public and stuttered to a stranger. I loved this project because it helped me gain perspective on PWS and what they go through everyday. Some of my friends believe this is extremely inappropriate and disrespectful to do because we are pretending to be something we are not. Even some of my SLP friends think this is an inconsiderate project, which I find hard to believe.

I just wanted to get some opinions from professionals or PWS- do you think this project is disrespectful to the community of people who stutter?

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Pseudo-Stuttering Perspective — 3 Comments

  1. Hi-
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and question. Graduate school is such a fun, exciting, and often stressful time! Good luck with your endeavors and journey!

    I definitely agree with your experiences of pseudo-stuttering. I completed a project like this when I was in graduate school and found it to be one of the most powerful and influential assignments I’d ever completed. I found myself experiencing fear and anxiety about speaking – something that I’d rarely felt before. I also found myself avoiding the assignment because I was worried how others might react. I actually had someone hang up on me – and I remember being so upset after the phone call. The overall experience definitely gave me the chance to understand at least a little bit of what people who stutter may deal with on a daily basis!

    As clinicians, and people, I think one of the most powerful things that we can do is to put ourselves in the shoes of our clients as much as we can. In therapy, when we ask our clients to put themselves out there, whether in a speaking situation or a different way, we want to show them that we are willing to put ourselves out there first. So, if they are working on ordering at a restaurant, we might go first and pseudo-stutter before they go up and order. This helps to build that clinician-client relationship.

    Also, pseudo-stuttering gives you the chance to practice playing around with and producing moments of stuttering. As a clinician, it is important that you are able to understand and replicate how your client stutters. This way, if the client decides he wants to explore his moments of stuttering – perhaps play around with tension – you can guide him through that. I can be really difficult to talk about and explore stuttering if one doesn’t have at least a basic understanding of how it feels.

    I think that trying pseudo-stuttering as a way to gain insight into stuttering is very different than mocking or making fun of stuttering or a person who stutters. I can understand how people may feel worried or uncomfortable; and, I think that is a powerful experience and lesson in itself. As a person who does not stutter, I may never fully understand what my clients and friends go through on a daily basis; however, I do experience many of the same emotions – joy, happiness, fear, sadness – even though what sparks those emotions may be different. At the end of the day, we are all so much more similar than we are different, and the more that we can all learn and understand each other – the better!

    Hope this helps! I know that some of the other professionals will have wonderful thoughts and insight as well!

    Best of luck!
    ~Jaime Michise

  2. Hi! This is a very interesting question and highlights an issue around which there is some debate. As Jaime describes, pseudo-stuttering can be a valuable experience in many ways. Personally, I’m quite a fan of pseudo-stuttering, but I do recognise that it potentially has a darker, less constructive side. To counter this, I feel it is important that such activities are presented with a clear rationale and purpose, and that the subsequent experiences can be considered and discussed afterwards, particularly when they are used with the aim of giving an insight into negative emotions and reactions which may be experienced by some people who stutter (and students using pseudo-stuttering). Otherwise, the risk of such activities is that the message students take away is a fear of stuttering or pity for people who stutter, neither of which necessarily aid student SLPs in learning how to help people who stutter. There’s a link here to an article discussing the potential effects of such “simulations” which you may find interesting: .

  3. Branden,

    Negative emotions are a bell weather of being stuck in therapy

    In Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy of Stuttering, we distinguish between two categories of negative emotions. The unhealthy negative emotions evoke a lot of emotional anguish and hinder recovery from stuttering. These include 1) shame, 2) guilt, 3) feeling that stuttering is awful, 4) that we should talk with perfect fluency, 5) that stuttering makes us somehow less worthwhile than people who do not stutter, etc.

    The corresponding healthy negative emotions, on the other hand, have just enough negative feelings associated with them to seriously motivate the PWS to pursue recovery from stuttering. Closer examination reveals that the corresponding negative feelings of 1) shame, for example, is concern, of 2) guilt is the resolve to do better, of 3) the feeling that stuttering is awful is the feeling that stuttering is inconvenient, of 4) that we should talk with perfect fluency is the desire to talk with less forcing and struggling, and of 5) that stuttering makes us somehow less worthwhile than people who do not stutter is the feeling that we have one characteristic (not the whole self) that can be improved, etc.

    When the progress in therapy stops it is because of the unhealthy negative feelings. These feelings can be detected by examining what unhelpful beliefs that gave rise to the unhealthy negative feelings. Let us start with the belief that stuttering is awful. After that, it only takes a little detective work to establish that we have an unhelpful belief that stuttering is so destructive as to wipe out all the possibilities to enjoy ourselves.

    Once we know what unhelpful feeling we hold, we can challenge it using the three scientific questions:
    1. I our belief backed up by empirical evidence? The answer is heck no! I still can enjoy a good cup of coffee, a good meal, company of acquaintances, etc.
    2. Is it logical? No, it does not make sense to define stuttering as awful.
    3. Does it help me to believe that stuttering destroys all chances for pleasure? Of course not.

    After we shred the unhelpful feeling, we remain with the belief “There is evidence that stuttering is nothing to cheer about. It does, sometimes, make logical sense to understand that it can have some practical disadvantages, and some situations would be easier and more pleasurable if I did not stutter.

    With this kind of belief, I would feel the healthy negative emotion: “stuttering is inconvenient”. This emotion would motivate me to focus more, and more calmly on my easy Iowa bounces. In conclusion, challenging and disputing unhelpful beliefs about a speaking situation helps us to recover from stuttering.

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