What are your thoughts on Voluntary Stuttering as a treatment technique?

Hello my name Marisa Morodomi. I am a graduating senior at California State University Fullerton. I am currently in a fluency disorders class and my professor assigned us a Voluntary Stuttering project. In this project we were assigned to voluntarily stutter in two different situations and then to record the listener’s reactions as well as our own. I had mixed feelings about having to voluntarily stutter in two of the situations I was put in. I was just curious about how effective or preferred this type of treatment technique is amongst people who stutter (PWS). 

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What are your thoughts on Voluntary Stuttering as a treatment technique? — 3 Comments

  1. Marissa,

    HI! It is nice to meet you (virtually) and congrats on being a senior. That is a great accomplishment!

    Voluntary stuttering, like any other skill (I call them “skills” and not techniques or tools because the word “skill” implies practice, work, patience, learning, and growth) is helpful for those people who stutter who find this skill beneficial. As a person who stutters, an SLP, and professor, I have the students I teach in undergrad and graduate school do a similar activity that you do. This is to: 1) Have students step in the shoes of a person with a COMMUNICATION DISORDER (not just stuttering) 2) To start to desensitize themselves to stuttering 3) To practice in a real life speaking situation using different disfluencies because as future SLPs they will be modeling for clients and will be going first.

    Many times during therapy the SLP must show what they are talking about, that means voluntarily stuttering to model what they might mean. ON many occasions I have called restaurants, ordered food, or performed a speaking situation for a client watching nearby so they can have the perspective of stepping outside of a speaking situation where someone stutters. How often do they get that perspective to observe and learn? This is important for their growth and a conversation.

    As a skill, pseudo-stuttering or voluntary stuttering, takes the willingness to choose a word and stutter on it. From the perspective of a PWS, this can provide a sense of perceived control over stuttering and instill confidence as they keep practicing.

    Does all of the above make sense? There is more to this but I wanted to get the conversation going here.

    with compassion and kindness,

  2. Marisa,
    Hello! Thank you so much for asking this question to the professional panel, and congrats on your studies and soon to be graduation! You are entering an amazing field that is absolutely so rewarding. I fully agree with my colleague Scott’s response, as he encompassed what voluntary stuttering can truly shine a light on when used therapeutically but also how this task can benefit the student learning experience. I know that when students are faced with this assignments, especially students who do not stutter, they sometimes feel discomforted or anxious regarding the idea of pseudo-stuttering because they feel as though the are pretending to be someone or something they aren’t or perhaps feel as though they may be mocking stuttering, however, the experience can be quite eye-opening and a wonderful learning opportunity when truly reflected upon. The experience may be a positive one in that the listener in the given situation truly allows the student to say what they wish to say, or, the situation can be eye-opening and revealing in that the listener interrupts or cuts-off the student and the student is unable to get their order correct (if at a restaurant) or to properly communicate their given wants and needs in the situation because of it. This is just a small glimpse of what people who stutter go through on a regular basis and the individuals who are going to walk into your clinic room for therapy. And every that walks into your room for therapy will come with their own stories, their our journey, and their own positive and not-so-positive experiences. 🙂
    Also- to add to Scott’s comment about control and the person who stutters- voluntary stuttering, as he mentioned, is also a tool that is used in the therapy room as a skill (I LOVE how Scott used the term “skill” instead of technique- I am going to have to start doing that too!) to teach people who stutter to use. Pseudo-stuttering can help instill communication confidence in the person who stutters, and I have too had people who I have had the honor of serving in the therapy room say that the first time they have ever felt in control of their own stuttering was when they gained the confidence to pseudo-stutter for the first time.

    I hope that this helps, and take care!

  3. Hi Marisa

    I’d like to add a little from my point of view, being a PWS, as you asked both panels.

    Thank you for doing voluntary stuttering to get a hunch of what it’s like to stutter and get people’s reactions. How we feel about it depends on why you’re doing it. If you’re doing it to imitate us and make fun of us, it’s always wrong, of course. And if you hate doing it yourself, and yet let us do it, you can imagine how we feel, as you can go back to your fluent self, while we’re living it 24/7.

    But I myself am very happy you did this, as it made you experience people’s reactions and feel the stress and anxiety watching people’s faces, feeling the need to rush your speech etc. For some PWS this is a very harmful exercise, as it might silence them even more. For others this might be a good one, as it could help to de-dramatize the situation for this person, just like voluntary stuttering. It also differs if the PWS is covert or overt.

    You could do this exercise together with a PWS, where you do voluntary stuttering and your client is the observer. It might help to gain trust between the two of you, and even help to laugh about situations when talking about it afterwards. So if you’re doing it together with the right clients and for the right reasons, I can only applaud you. 🙂

    Happy ISAD and keep them talking