Creating a safe environment.

Hello! I am student at CSUF and I was wondering if anyone could share tips on how to create a safe environment in a clinic for patients who stutter in an effort to get them to open up and trust you. 

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Creating a safe environment. — 7 Comments

  1. Hi Alexi,
    It’s great that you’ve been thinking about how to make the smallest difference! That in itself is the first step towards making PWS who visit your clinic feel comfortable enough to open up to you and share..
    Besides that it’s the very things that we ask caregivers and friends to follow, like being empathetic and non judgemental listeners.
    New therapists often have a checklist in their heads, of what they want to finish “telling” their patients. I suggest let your eyes and ears do more of the work instead, of gauging when you need to stop giving information and start perceiving what the PWS feels about it.
    I would also recommend that you go through some of the interesting conversation threads preceding your question on this forum. Dr. Irani and I have responded to someone who’s been thinking along the same lines as you! So I’m sure you’ll get some more tips there as well..

    • Good morning, Dr. Pallavi!
      Thank you for taking the time to read and relpy to my post. I appreciate it.
      I have to say that yes, we should approach the same way we would anyone else with empathy and nonjudgement. My professor for fluency has taught us that we need to listen to the client not just be the ones that are talking. We need to be mindful of what the clients are feeling.
      I will be sure to go through those threads.
      Have a great day!

  2. Hello! Thank you so much for asking a question to the professional panel, and best wishes in your studies. I second what Dr. Kelkar stated in that just posting here shows your empathy for people who stutter and that in itself is a great start to fostering a safe therapeutic environment for people who stutter. There was a question just like this earlier in this thread that you can take a look at, but I will respond to say that the best thing I think you can do for a person who stutters is to listen. Give that person space (whether this person is a child or an adult) to speak and say whatever they want to say. You may be the first person in that person’s life to actually, actively listen. And yes, actively listen, don’t just listen. Be able to paraphrase what this person has said to you, and listen with a non-judgmental and non-bias space. Your eye contact can be just as it is as if you were communicating with anyone else. 🙂 People who stutter have beautiful and amazing things to say and if you don’t actively listen- you are in danger of missing some of it.

    That’s my biggest advice. I hope that this helps, and thanks again for your compassion and empathy for people who stutter.

    • Good morning!
      Thank you so much for responding to my post! Thank you for sharing about how important active listening is to creating a safe environment. And for giving some examples on how it that can be achieved.
      I have never thought about eye-contact. I know it is a behavior exhibited when speaking, however, I used to think that maybe when a person is in the middle of a disfluency it woud be respectful to look away. Is this right or is it wrong? In this attempt to be respectful, will it do more harm than good?

      • Hi! Great follow-up question. So purposefully looking away during a disfluency for sure can be disrespectful, but you also don’t want to give someone a blank stare or concerned stare/startled face either- just look at the as if they weren’t stuttering. If something happened to distract your attention (the dog barks or gets into something during the conversation) your eyes would distract away just as they would with anyone else- but don’t purposefully look away either if that helps? 🙂 Does that make sense?

  3. Dear Alexi,

    Good day to you! Thanks for asking a wonderful question about creating a safe environment. I echo what Steff and Dr. Kelkar have said, 100%.

    The environment we choose to create is vital the success that a client and family might want to move toward. Think about it this way, let us say you were traveling by plane and your plane has to land a country you were not prepared for, packed for, and prepared for. You don’t have anything against the place, you just don’t know much about it and are unsure what it will be like. You are told you can not leave for a little while and have to navigate this new place. what would help you feel comfortable, safe, less anxious? What could people do, say, provide that would help you?

    People who stutter, and families, are entering into a situations where they want to learn, grow, and be the best version of themselves. How do we foster that learning and growing process? How do you best grow and learn and feel comfortable? I think sometimes we forget that we are all similar in so many ways. How do you like to feel safe? You might want people to comfort you if you are upset. You might feel better with someone who actively listens to you. Someone who SHOWs they care, shows they are compassionate. Parents like someone who knows how to communicate at their level and not speak down to them.

    At the end of the day, we are all people. We all want to connect and be cared for and care for others. If we show caring and honesty, then we will probably create a special environment for all.

    Keep asking questions.
    With compassion and kindness,

    • Good morning, Scott!
      I want to say thank you for taking time to reply to my post.
      I have to say that you are right. We are not so different and so we creating a safe environment should not be more complicated. Thank you for providing me a way to approach this by using myself as an example. Your reply has also make me realize that ever person may be different and so creating a safe environment for one client may look slightly different for another.
      However, always keeping in mind that for all clients we must show empathy, respect, and actively listen.