Life-Changing

Hello, my name is Courtney Jackson and my question is has there ever been a certain client or encounter that has changed your views or delivery of therapy? Thank you!

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Life-Changing — 6 Comments

  1. Hi Courtney! This is a good question. Over the years, I have found that therapy doesn’t always need to follow a script. There have been many times when I (or my students) have had activities planned for therapy, but didn’t end up doing those activities because the client really needed to talk about something important. Therapy always needs to be flexible; there always needs to be room for “small talk” and giving clients the space to talk openly. I have ideas that I bring to the table, but I let the client guide me to what’s important for their session. Also, I always try to end each and every session on a “high note”. If I think of other experiences, I will revisit this post. Thank you for your question!

  2. Hello Courtney!
    Thank you so much for your question!

    I find Derek’s response very wise, and I support very much his perspective. I would like to add that, in many ways, each person is changing my therapy views, and furthermore the therapy elements. As Derek highlights, we as therapists need to know what the person him or herself regards as important. Usually in my own practice, I try to find out what is unique with the person (the person’s skills, personality, and communication style), and in which daily life settings the person is involved. Then we are able to be more context-sensitive when we are considering the more general therapy elements in our collaboration. I am tempted to add that I personally don’t like the word ‘delivery of therapy’, because then it sounds that we are just sharing or giving something, which I believe we are not. Stuttering therapy is about collaborating as active agents and active explorers/researchers, regardless if we are persons who stutter or therapists.

    All the best wishes, from

    Hilda

  3. Hi Courtney!
    Thank you for your question. In my case it was a very good and important meeting with a young man right at the beginning of my professional path as an SLP who wanted to work with individuals with fluency disorders. This young man, who was a first-year psychology student with moderate symptoms of stuttering, asked me for advice at the City Educational-Psychological Center (where I worked at the time). He wasn’t sure if he really wanted to attend “regular” therapy (he had a bad experience related to therapy in his past). What he really wanted was my advice on how to worry less about his stuttering and how to make other people accept him and his stuttering. At that time, in my country, SLP students were taught that stuttering must be eliminated at all costs. As argued at the time, stuttering is a nuisance to the fluent majority of the society. The methods used by speech therapists were primarily fluency shaping. Nobody mentioned then that stuttering could be accepted – back then it was not OK to stutter. His therapy process was completely different than I initially thought. This young man made me look at what should happen in stuttering therapy in a completely different way. It was thanks to him that I started searching for other methods, other approaches, and reading literature in other languages. I also think that thanks to him I have learned how important it is for a speech therapist to listen to his clients, take into account theirs needs and ideas. I am very grateful that this meeting took place at the very beginning of my career. It was a great lesson in humility for me. As far as I know, he is an accomplished psychologist today and I am very proud of him.
    Best regards, Katarzyna Węsierska

  4. Thanks Courtney!
    I agree with Katarzyna and Derek. Therapy must be individualized and client driven. As a clinician, we need to be flexible and “be there” for the client. Listen to them, follow their lead. It was not one person who impacted my approach with people who stutter, it has been many and continues to be a learning process for me–even after working with people who stutter for over 40 years. Each person who walks into my therapy room brings a different experience. I have learned from the five year old who was more concerned about managing thoughts about monsters, than thoughts about his speech…I have learned from the 9 year old how he managed bullying from an adult (bus driver who mocked him in front of other children) and was able to pass that on to other children…I learned from the teen, who I had planned on a stuttering analysis activity that suddenly changed when he walked in and told me his parents were getting divorced…the young adult who only wanted to work on fluency shaping skills, when I felt that avoidance reduction skills was more appropriate…the list is lengthy and rich. Stay open to learning from your clients and it will help you make the right decisions about therapy.
    take care,
    Rita

  5. Hi Courtney! This is a great question! As with my colleagues, I too have had a client change the way I treat individuals who stutter. My very first adult I ever treated outside of graduate school was one of those encounters. He was an adult in his fifties, and I was one year out of graduate school, just had finished my clinical fellowship year here in America, and I was 26 years old. He came to the initial evaluation, and started it off by telling me, “I have went through this program, and that program, done DAF, this and this… so what is going to make you any different.” He put me on the spot, but this is when I learned that you can’t put stuttering therapy in a box, so to speak. You must individualize therapy to the client. This person had tried all of these things, but I realized the theme was that none of them had been individualized to meet his needs. My answer to him was, “Well, I am young, fresh in the research, and hot off the press… but what will make me different is I am here to listen to you, and make this what you need it to be.” He was in my clinic for a year after that and we had a great working relationship. He did wonderfully. I will never forget that man.

  6. Hi Courtney, I agree with the other panel members. The client encounters that stay with me as a clinician are the ones where the session or therapy process doesn’t follow the traditional script. These encounters remind me of the importance of considering what each individual wants from the therapy process and how I can best support them to achieve their goals. The moments where you realise you’re helping someone explore how to change their life – whether it’s the first time the teenager who has withdrawn into himself every time the word ‘stutter’ is mentioned in session (rather than ‘stammer’ as ‘stutter’ is the term bullies used to belittle him) reacts differently, and holds his head up high in ownership of his own communication; or the moment a 9 year old proudly tells you he’s auditioned for a speaking part in his school play (when prior to therapy he wasn’t comfortable to put his hand up in class) … these are the moments that remind you why you chose this career, and the importance of being open to considering different options for therapy delivery depending on what the individual client needs.

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