Tips for future SLP

Hello, my name is Camille Cunningham, and I am studying Speech Pathology at the University of Akron. When helping patients during a therapy session what are some tips or strategies you use to get the patient to feel comfortable with you and to open up? 

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Tips for future SLP — 2 Comments

  1. Hi Camille,

    The first thing that comes to my mind is building a trusting relationship. The strength of the client-clinician relationship is key, where there’s genuine care, positive regard, empathy, mutual respect, and most of all, LISTENING!

    Have you ever read David Shapiro’s personal story entitled “A Way Through the Forest: One Boy’s Story With a Happy Ending”? It’s available here:

    There is so much you can glean from this story, but it highlights the importance of client-centered treatment – meeting them where they are, empowering them to talk freely, and really listening to them (their interests, wants, desires, needs, aspirations). There is so much value in being heard and understood, and that opens many doors!

    Ana Paula

  2. Hello, Camille. Thank you so much for asking a question to the professional panel. I second Ana Paula’s suggestions and totally also recommend that you read that story, as it does a beautiful job of highlighting humanistic and person-centered therapy as Ana Paula mentioned. There is a similar question to this in the panel thread if you want to scroll down and take a look at the responses there, but I do feel like this is such an important question to address. Your question alone, shows that you already have innate empathy for people who stutter and the want to help them feel safe is so wonderful of you. 🙂 That is the empathy that I cannot teach to my graduate students, and must be innate or self-learned through experience… so way to go. 🙂

    With that, I will add to Ana Paula’s response to say sometimes it takes months for someone we are treating to open up to us. We can create a loving, caring and empathy-rich environment for the person we are serving but we cannot make them tell us things even though we desperately want to help them, and badly want them to. Sometimes it is six months into treatment that someone tells me about their upbringing, or even longer than that. The therapeutic alliance, that “trusting relationship” that Ana Paula referred to, is key. A person you are serving must know that not only is your therapy space safe, but it is confidential, non-judging and non-bias. It is a space that no matter what happened in past therapy experiences (and perhaps this person may have had positive or negative therapy experiences in their past), that this is a fresh new experience with a skilled clinician that knows stuttering (there is a different between clinicians that “get it” and clinicians that don’t get it, when it comes to stuttering- and people we serve can catch on to this quickly). This takes time to build, and we must be patient. 🙂 But to answer your question in summary: 1) the therapeutic alliance 2.) fostering a safe space in the therapy room with active listening skills and non judgment/non-bias and 3.) being patient and letting the person you are serving take the lead. would be the highlights of how to help the person feel safe to talk to you.

    I hope that this helps, and be well!