Being Encouraging and Helpful

Hello,

My name is Melanie and I am a student at The University of Akron in Ohio. My question is How could I be encouraging and helpful to someone with a fluency disorder such as stuttering so that they don’t have to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed?

Thank you,

Melanie

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Being Encouraging and Helpful — 1 Comment

  1. Melanie, Thank you for asking your question to the professional panel. First, congrats on your studies! You have entered into the world of an amazing, life-changing profession and I am so happy that you are in it! Your question shows so much empathy and compassion already for serving people who stutter, and that makes me smile. I will say, in naming stuttering, make sure to allow the individual that you are serving to name their own stuttering from the forefront of your therapeutic relationship. The person you are seeing in therapy may not like the words “fluency disorder.” Some individuals who stutter don’t mind it, while others really really mind it. Just like you or I like the way some things are said or not others. There are some words we react to based on our previous life experiences (I know I do from a personal standpoint) and same goes for people who stutter like any other human being. 🙂 The American-Speech Hearing Association still uses the term “fluency disorder” to categorize a group of entities like stuttering and cluttering, but what does the person in front of you call their speaking? Do they call it “stuttering” even? You catch my drift. In asking the person you are helping from the get go, in this therapeutic alliance/trust relationship, what they prefer, you are giving them control, making them feel trusted and that their experience INDIVIDUALIZED and most of all MATTERS. It is, after all, their stutter. 🙂
    With that, and to actually now answer and allude to your question, I LOVE that you wish for this person already to not feel uncomfortable and you wish to encourage your individual (notice I am also not using the words “patient” or “client” but I, as professional, personally now use the words “individual” and “person.” Using the words “patient” and “client” aren’t bad… I just prefer to use “patient” and “individual” now in my therapy work, as the person sitting in front of me for therapy is, always has been and always will my equal in my eyes, not just a “client”, “patient” or “case” on a piece of paper (again, these are just my personal practice preferences, and do not have to be yours, nor are they everyone else’s and just because someone uses the word “patient” this does not make them wrong or anything at all- I used that word for years.) Ok, back to your question (I’m sorry, I digress a lot, just as my graduate students at Baylor and ANY of them will tell you this.. it’s a problem.) Remember, stuttering isn’t “embarrassing” to everyone. We surely do not want to embarrass people purposefully… but not everyone feels “embarrassment” or “ashamed” from their stuttering experience. Stuttering is such an individualized experienced. Some individuals may tell you that they feel ashamed, and that is their journey and we experience this with them as they share these feelings with us as their speech pathologists. Some individuals are very outgoing who stutter- and you will see this so much too! I will give you one piece of advice, and to me, this is the biggest piece of advice that I could give you when working with a person who stutters to encourage this person as much as you can in the therapy room: LISTEN. Listen to this person. They may share a lot of personal information with you in the first session (whether this person is a chid or an adult) or they may not share any emotional/personal information with you for the first three to six months of your therapeutic relationship- you can’t force them to share as much as you want them to…. but when they do decide to share their life stories with you (if and when) treat that like gold. Show them you care, as I can tell you do by the tone and empathy resounding in this question- by listening. You may be the first person to ever truly listen to this person. And after you listen, allow them to complete responses, uninterrupted. Let them finish what needs to be said, however they need to say it. This, starts a beautiful therapeutic relationship that is hard to describe in words. This is why I tell people all of the time that my favorite part of being an SLP is that I thought I was signing up for a clock in and out career, but I was way wrong- I get to live out a passion in my job.. it’s a lifestyle… I get to be a part of the stories of people.. how beautiful is that? So, I hope this response helps you. Keep being amazing, and be a world changer for people who stutter- because you already have the drive and empathy in you to do it… I can tell.

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