SLP Experience

Hello, my name is Lydia Lentz. I am a student an the University of Akron studying to become a speech-language pathologist. My question is: Was there ever a time that you thought the therapy was useless, that you had no motivation and believed that you could never succeed at what was being asked of you? If so, what did you do to overcome those thoughts? Thank you.

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SLP Experience — 2 Comments

  1. Hi Lydia. Thanks for your question. I stay in India, so my answers are my personal opinions on what I have experienced here. It should not be generalized too, as I am sure things have changed now, as to what I have experienced some 10 years ago when I sought speech therapy.
    I lived in a small town and my first experience with speech therapy was full of shame, as it was portrayed that I have some disease-like conditions which need to be treated before I am ready for the world. (Now after 10 years, I am thinking, how wrong they were and so was I, as I believed them). The speech therapist (now I highly doubt he was a certified one, it was hard to find speech therapists in small cities) did something called ‘magnet therapy’ with me, wherein, he asked me to put little round-shaped magnets on particular points on my both hands (this technique resembles that of acupuncture), sealed by a paper tape, for 11-12 hours a day. How ridiculous it sounds now, but believe me, I did that, when I was younger. Another trick which he suggested was ‘color therapy’ wherein different colors were to be marked at specific points on my hands (similar to acupuncture). When this did nit work for a month, my mother and I stopped going to him. He was charging us a hefty amount, per session.
    My next experience with speech therapy was when I was in college and was about to graduate, I myself looked for a speech therapist, in Delhi, the nearest big city to me. He was a certified one and followed conventional speech therapy exercises, eg., loud reading in front of mirror, word counts per minute, some breathing exercises and the kost effective one- public speaking sessions once a week. It did not work for me because, in my opinion, he stressed too much on the techniques rather than on changing the mindset first! There was no counseling, you have to enter his clinic and sit in front of a mirror for an hour. I gained nothing out of it, except a very important tip from someone who was a fellow patient (yes, this is what they called us) about TISA (The Indian Stammering Association). I looked up to its website and never turned back. You can check out my paper on the same. So, these are my experiences with speech therapy. I am at avery happy place right now, with my speech and I do not regret these experiences as they became a guide for me, as to what works and what does not.

  2. Thank you for these interesting questions!

    I had a lot of therapy that I regarded as totally useless – both at the time, and looking back now in retrospect.
    Over the course of decades, I estimate I saw about 35 different therapists for stuttering, with very different approaches. Most of this therapy was not helpful at all to me.
    Looking back, only seven of these therapists offered significant help for my stuttering, and of this number only three clinicians were able to offer substantial help to me.

    Here are some of the worthless therapeutic approaches for stuttering I’ve encountered: blowing bubbles in water through a straw; practicing sounds alongside those who had articulation difficulties (I already KNEW how to make those sounds – that wasn’t the problem!); talking about my life activities, without regard to stuttering; hearing my disfluent speech played back for me on a tape recorder; being taught a breathing exercise which required holding each inhaled breath as long as I could (which causes upper chest tension, a horrid exercise for a person who stutters); being told to write down every first letter that I spoke, completely impractical in real life; being analyzed to figure out why I was “choosing” to stutter in so many situations rather than using a technique I was taught (the clinicians didn’t understand it just wasn’t possible to use their technique in those situations, not for lack of trying).

    But I always had good motivation, and always wanted to improve my speech to make my life easier. I experienced many therapeutic disappointments, but never lost hope – I kept hoping to find clinical programs that would help me. And eventually, I did find some that did. (The program that helped me the most was Precision Fluency Shaping, developed by the Hollins Communications Research Institute, Roanoke, Virginia.)

    I think I had good instincts with regard to the many therapies I went through. Usually I sensed quickly whether a particular therapy program would be helpful or not. And looking back, I was usually correct in what I sensed – I knew I wasn’t the reason I didn’t “succeed” in some of these programs; it just was obvious to me that the clinicians didn’t understand much about stuttering. Too many clinicians had the false idea that fluency inside the clinic meant that one could easily be fluent everywhere. I did try my best in all these programs, but some were frankly just a waste of time and energy.

    As I mentioned above, though, I did find some good quality therapy. But I wish that clinicians who don’t have much knowledge about stuttering would recognize this fact themselves, and refer people who stutter to others who do.