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Hello, I am a second year graduate student about to enter the field. My name is Avery Fray. What have you seen be most helpful for your fluency clients? What are your go-to strategies? What are things you avoid?

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  1. Dear Avery,

    HI! Thanks for writing and congrats on your second year of graduate school. You are almost there!!!

    This is a great question, and one I will write a little and let my other colleagues here dive in as well. As you will hopefully see, there are no ONE APPROACH to helping anyone who stutters.

    First, the things I pass on, or things I do to teach or help PWS I call skills, instead of tools, techniques or strategies. I like the work “skills” because it implies practice to move toward improvement.

    I try to frame what I do to include: 1)Mind 2)Body 3) Speech 4) Language. These things blend together as you will see and are TOTALLY based on what the client is asking for and guiding me to do.

    1. Mind is working on the attitudes, feelings, and the counseling that a person might need to move toward confidence, self-worth, resilience, and so much more that we need to survive in our own heads. I typically use all forms of CBT, ACT, and Mindfulness in a variety of ways.

    2. Body is related posture as we speak and how it ties into being an effective communicator. Strong powerful poses. An upright position both sitting and standing to maximize voice. Eye contact, how to use non-verbals (in a functional and productive way and not adding to secondary behaviors).

    3. Speech is practicing any fluency enhancing or stuttering modification SKILLs that a person might want to ease through moments of disfluencies, not focused on being fluent but the concept of feeling a relaxed and confidence speaking STYLE that is their own.

    4. Language is the talking about the language we use that we call cling to that can create unworkable judgments. These unworkable judgments can lead to negative thoughts and avoidance behaviors which work in opposition to building confidence, resilience and a flexible mind. Words that keep us locked in bipolar thinking (Examples: should, must, always, never, etc).

    What I tend to avoid is the practice of getting on my high horse and only doing one thing. Or, thinking I know it all. In other words, I try to avoid my ego and listen to the client and what they want.

    It is our job to pass on what we know, ethically. Not just pass on our opinions.

    Did that help? Keep asking questions!
    With compassion and kindness,

  2. Hi Avery,

    I would just add to Scott’s response that the IMPACT of stuttering on a person’s life dictates much of what we may explore in therapy. For example, if they’re not talking in social situations and want to increase their engagement in social contexts, what would empower them to do so? Would it be building their confidence as a communicator? Would it be stuttering easier? Would it be disclosing that they stutter, or a combination of these things? Like Scott mentioned, there is not ONE best way because it largely depends on the client’s goals, their desires, their perceived barriers, their needs, and so on. It’s very individualized!

    Ana Paula