Voices: Past and Present

kuster2015About the author:  Judith Kuster CCC-SLP, M.S. in speech-language pathology and M.S. in counseling, is an ASHA Fellow and emeritus professor of Communication Disorders at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She has maintained the Stuttering Home Page (http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/stutter.html) for the past 21 years (starting as a Gopher site) and put together the ISAD online conferences from 1998-2012.  Kuster is a member of the ASHA Special Interest Group #4: Fluency and Fluency Disorders. She is the recipient of the ASHF DiCarlo Award for Outstanding Clinical Achievement, the 2003 Distinguished Contributor Award from the International Fluency Association, a 2007 Outstanding Contribution Award from the International Stuttering Association, the 2008 ASHA Distinguished Contributor Award, and in 2009 was named to the National Stuttering Association’s Hall of Fame.

This presentation can be downloaded and viewed in Microsoft PowerPoint, completely self-contained, from the link below the presentation – be sure to extract all files to the same location.  Alternatively it can be viewed here, however the audio in the presentation will not work directly if viewed on this web page.  Separate audio components have been provided below the presentation with a related slide number.  When you reach the relevant slide number, play the audio from the audio links shown below the presentation.

Download VoicesPastAndPresent

Slide 11 audio (Johnson)
Slide 13 audio (Rogers)
Slide 14 audio (Bryngelson)
Slide 16 audio (Travis)
Slide 17 audio (Alexander)
Slide 18 audio (Van Riper)

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Voices: Past and Present — 13 Comments

  1. Judy, thank you for the Voices: Past and Present PP presentation. It provides a wonderful reflection on the the oral history of the stuttering field. I’ll be sure to share this with my Stuttering Cohort Group in my school district in Boston. Lourdes

    • Thanks for the kind comments, Lourdes. At times our field seems to forget the important messages from several of the people who played very important roles in stuttering. They often understood a lot more than we sometimes seem to give them credit for.

  2. Dear Judy,

    Do you feel ignored, left out? 🙂 Next time do not choose to be the last paper in the conference. 🙂 Or at least pay the webmaster to put in the phrase that starting from the other end the reader gets a better grass roots outlook on the conference. 🙂 Not having names attached to the papers also did you in. 🙂

    But aside from that you did your usual excellent work. Now let me tell why the other people should read your paper:
    Judy’s paper with the short audio clips and reference to the oral history of the field opened to me a treasure trove. Have we addressed the concerns expressed by the giants in the field? Is what we are doing any better or even different? Listen to excerpts at random and judge for yourself.

    The oral history as documented on Judy’s home page taken together with Bloodstein’s and Ratner’s “A Handbook on Stuttering” gives a rather complete view of the field. The handbook marshals facts. The oral history, with its passion and moments of unguarded disclosures, fleshes out the true meaning and validity of the evolution of therapy approaches. One can find that what you thought you invented has been around in one form or another for years, often more that 60 years.

    I also found it fascinating to listen to their speech cadences, the flow of their speech, their stutters, their repairs, etc. …fascinating, quite fascinating. And among the lot there are lessons to be learned. If we do not learn from failures in history we are bound to repeat them.


    • Thanks for your comments and support, Gunars. I agree that there is much we can learn from the oral history about stuttering, even in those short audio clips, but also in the entire Voices: Past and Present website. It surprised me that there was a similar story like the “Monster Study” and that the founders of our field talked about the value of group therapy, of counseling, the need to focus on the whole person, on the importance of desensitization, on the relationship-building skills of the clinician, and so much more. I hope others are reading and listening to the clips, even if they aren’t commenting;-) Appreciate that you did!

      • Judy –

        C’mon Judy…Everybody knows the “Monster Study” never happened!!! :>)

        BTW -Great clips…


  3. Judith,

    Thank you for posting this presentation. As a Speech and Language Therapy student in the UK, I thought it was fascinating that many of the themes found in the audio clips are still echoed in the lectures that I find myself sitting in. I think it is so important to have an understanding of how the field has progressed since its inception, whilst remaining mindful of common and important themes throughout time.

    I thought the clip of Lee Edward Travis discussing the loss of focus on the whole person was of particular interest; his point seems valid when considering whether or not we should view stammering as a disability in light of an individual’s feelings about their own speech. Some articles have even discussed the hostility that SLTs may face from the stammering community; the very nature of the profession suggests that stammering is something that needs to be ‘fixed’. I felt these seemingly current issues were echoed in this particular clip. How do we strike the balance between offering therapy to those who want it, whilst not perpetuating the stigma attached to stammering? As Lee Edward Travis stated, stammering is not symptomatic of anything: it simply is. So, by continuing down the path of remedial therapy, do we continue to “treat human beings mechanistically”? As a student, I have to admit that I do not have enough current knowledge of SLT intervention to offer many thoughts on this!

    Thank you for posting such a thought provoking presentation. It has certainly opened my eyes to both past and present discussions.


    • Emily,

      Thank you for an insightful response! It encourages me to see the next generation of people like you who are current students in a field I’ve been in for 50 years!

      Throughout the years I have seen re-invention in several areas of our field, of ideas planted years ago, without any attribution or celebration of where those ideas came from originally. It may be totally unintentional because many don’t know much of the history, and believe they have come up with a totally new idea. I have only found one university (not in the US) that actually has a course offered in the history of our field and few of the texts in disorder areas or even those which review the scope of our field (e.g. introductory texts) include some of the history.

      Is it not only a concern of lack of attribution. More important to me, it is a concern that there may be (are?) insights, some of which have been lost over the years, which NEED to be re-invented. Some of that history (now re-invented) has made wonderful contributions to our field and to the clients we serve. What other gems have been lost over the years than may be keys to additional improvements in serving our clients?

      Other parts of that history (now also re-invented and promising so-called CURES for stuttering – look at what is promoted outside our field on the Internet) have proven to be ineffective in the past. We need to know about that history, too.


  4. Judith ,your site is just wonderful and the section “Voices Past and present” is the best.
    I learned from it so much.
    For example, I heard the audio with Sheehan and Van riper, more than 10 times.
    I think that nobody today speak about stuttering,in this passion like the pioneers of the field talked.
    Thanks for your paper,and for all your work.

    • Ari,

      Thank you for your kind words and also for checking out some of the treasures that are in Voices: Past and Present. You are right about the passion evident in many of the pioneers (and I find that passion in the more recent professionals on that site, too). I just listened to one of Van Riper’s audios (a half hour interview with Anders Lundberg from Sweden) again this morning. He is entertaining to listen to and also reminds me of why I was always excited about working with people who stutter. I need to spend some time re-listening to all of those audios again. I always gain additional insights each time I listen.


  5. Hi Judy,
    This paper is another example of the value you have given to the stuttering world by your methodical approach and IT skills. Of course while I may have wanted things to move a little faster I now realise we would not be close to where we are now if it wasn’t for you giving so much time, skill and energy as the original “webmaster/administrator” of the ISAD online conferences. Sincerely, thank you.
    Can I ask of all your papers/presenters/experiences what/who have been the most influential on your thinking? Have your ideas on therapy changed over the years and if so how?
    Best wishes from Adelaide, Mark

    • Hi Mark! Thank YOU for the very kind words. You ask an interesting question, but an easy one for me to answer;-) There are really two answers – not just one. First was Lois Nelson, my professor at the University of Wisconsin who taught the stuttering class and supervised fluency therapy. She was Van Riper trained and very Rogerian in her approach to students and clients. Listening skills were always stressed (not just with clients who happened to stutter, but all clients and family members if they were involved with the client’s therapy). The second most influential on my own thinking has been listening to and interacting with people who stutter (not only in therapy) including you and many, many others. It has been a life-long lesson that has truly shaped (and continues to shape) my ideas.


  6. Thanks, Judy, for this compilation. I can see using this as a reference when I talk to SLP student classes, or even at chapter meetings, and I, too, believe strongly in attribution. We do stand on the shoulders of those who have come before. (paraphrased from Bernard of Chartres/Isaac Newton).
    I remember when I first came into the community via the NCOS, meeting men like Bill Murphy, Peter Ramig, Carl Dell, and many others, and being grateful for their time and talents.

    • Thank YOU for the ideas on some ways to use this information, which can be downloaded from this site. I think I will also put a copy on my Stuttering Home Page (http://www.stutteringhomepage.com) – maybe under the Museum, linked to the reference for this paper in Past Internet Presentations listing, and also under the section of Resources for Professors. Good idea to consider using it for chapter meetings. You list several others who have made substantial impact on me personally. We do indeed stand on the shoulders of many giants;-)