Mental/Emotional Health

October is Mental and Emotional Wellness month. In keeping with this month’s theme, how can SLPs support you in maintaining mental and emotional health? What are things that you’d like to see incorporated into the therapy sessions?

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Mental/Emotional Health — 4 Comments

  1. Hello!

    What an important question you ask!

    In my opinion, this is where counseling comes into play – as part of the therapy equation. For many of our clients, not just those who stutter, the affective component (thoughts, emotions) of their communication disorders may have a larger impact than the behavioral component (outward physical stuttering behaviors). Have you heard of the Stuttering Iceberg (Sheehan, 1970). If not, please look it up. It’s such a powerful visual for understanding the complexity of stuttering and other communication disorders as well. It shows that a lot of stuttering is below the surface and often invisible to others. As SLPs, we can truly help our clients to explore and minimize the impact of ‘what’s under the surface.’

    Do you have a counseling class as part of your curriculum (if you are a student)? If not, I definitely recommend any training that you can in this area. Also, I think that taking the time to really get to know your client as a whole person and create a judgement-free environment in which they can talk freely is incredibly important. Sometimes the biggest changes in therapy can result from being given the time and space to talk to someone who truly listens.

    I think it is also important to note that sometimes our clients have mental health/emotional health issues that may extend beyond our scope of practice. In those instances, it can be really important for us to refer to other professionals as needed. This does not mean that we’ve ‘failed’ our clients; instead, it shows that we are working to create a network of people who can work to support the client on all fronts.

    I hope this helps!


  2. Hi

    As a PWS we still meet people who don’t understand. Some are simply bullies who think it’s ok to make fun of PWS, and the media is not helping here, projecting us as funny, afraid, less intelligent or even violent criminals… But most of the people want to help, but do this in a way that’s not helping. Filling in our words, looking away, telling us to “relax and take a deep breath”, or even telling us about that fantastic therapy that’ll “cure” us in two days.

    And that’s why I always end with “keep talking”. As we can’t expect people to understand if we’re not telling them what we want and need. And that’s where we need your help.

    Help us to understand that stuttering not our fault and that there’s nothing wrong with stuttering. If your client wants to gain more fluency, make sure it’s something your client wants, not family and friends, as therapy will probably not work and might even add to the fear of “failing” and shame if fluency is not obtained. You cannot build a tower in a swamp. There must be a foundation.

    Help us to understand stuttering is ok and help us find peers by directing us to the nearest stuttering support group, children or youth camp. To meet people who GET you can be life changing. This also goes for parents, who often carry a load of guilt and questions. To meet other parents and learn more about stuttering can get the pressure and the guilt off their minds and thus also help their children.

    Help us to get the word out. About stuttering, about the ISAD. Talk to the people who surround your client. This can be family members, friends, teachers, classmates, employers and co-workers, etc. We might need your help to get the confidence to talk about stuttering ourselves, or for you to do it for us. You might even be able to help us get the confidence to wear a stuttering t-shirt, button or sea-green ribbon on the ISAD (or every day ) .

    Also use other PWS who have come a long way in their journey
    towards acceptance. They can come to schools or to working places and raise awareness. And maybe you and your client can go to the media and talk about stuttering? The more people understand and learn what to do, the more we can create a safe world that understands stuttering.

    Happy ISAD and keep them talking


    • Hi Anita, I had a quick question. How can we as SLP’s get the patient or clients family of someone who stutters, to understand that they can not finish their child’s sentences and they can not rush the child into finishing their words, but in a kind and calm way without making the clients family feel unappreciated?

      • Hi Chloe. Great question.

        Try to turn it around. Ask the parents how they would feel is somebody would interrupt them or finish their sentences. F ex by a shop keeper or a telephone operator. Often, if you turn it around, they get a better understanding. When people tell me to keep calm and take a deep breath, I ask them if they would say to a person in a wheelchair to get a steady grip, stand up and put their left foot in front of their right foot? And don’s say it in a nasty way, but simply give an example which makes them understand and give the answer themselves. As in fact it’s simply a sign of respect to let someone else speak. Nothing more, nothing less. And if they don’t have time, which is a natural thing as life is busy, to tell the child that there’s no time now, but that they will have time to have a chat later, where they will give full attention. For the last thing parents want is for their child to become silent, which is what is at stake here.

        Keep them talking