Woody Starkweather: counselors psychologists have the tools.

Important simple question: Should psychologists and counselors be helping and treating PWS and not SLPs?

Woody Starkweather often commented that Speech-Language pathologists have the knowledge of stuttering but psychologists and counsellors have the tools to efficiently work on the disorder.
https://www.friendswhostutter.org/the-power-of-listening/

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Woody Starkweather: counselors psychologists have the tools. — 4 Comments

  1. Hello! Thank you for asking this question to the professional panel. This is actually a really good question, and one that I have heard before- and I really do love the link that you gave within the FRIENDS site by Dr. Joseph Donaher and Mike Retzinger; two brilliant and compassionate colleagues that I have had the pleasure of working with and/or chatting with and the article attached gives such a beautiful and inspiring message.

    In regards to your question, I do very much so feel that SLPs should work with people who stutter, particularly those SLPs that are properly trained to do so. As of right now, there are still some SLP graduate programs that within the graduate coursework the stuttering/cluttering course is either lacking in content to prepare students to truly be “entry level ready” to treat people who stutter, or, there is not a course in stuttering at all within the program. On the flip side, there are some graduate programs that have high quality and absolutely excellent stuttering/cluttering coursework and the students come out of this class prepared with the proper resources, mentors, tools, etc to evaluate and treat people who stutter. So- only those SLPs that have the proper training and are prepared to do so, should be evaluating and treating people who stutter.

    Additionally, I have encountered psychologists and counselors (as with other professionals) that do not know the first thing about stuttering: the nature of stuttering, what the individualized stuttering experience could possibly look like, etc. Also, some people who stutter seek therapy services beyond that of strictly the emotional counseling side, but also would like behavioral treatment skills in the therapy room, and to my knowledge behavioral strategies are not an area that a psychologist or counselor would be trained in. I don’t think it is an either/or answer here. I think that SLPs can treat people who stutter in the therapy room for reasons within our scope of practice and counselors and psychologists can treat people who stutter within their scope of practice, and both professionals can be a part of a person’s treatment team together as well on an individualized basis to best fit the needs on a person to person basis.

    So- to add to the brilliant Mr. Woody Starkweather’s thought process here, because Woody Starkweather’s work and devotion to stuttering is absolutely remarkable, psychologists and counselors can absolutely have the tools to treat and help people who stutter, just as they have the tools to help anybody, if they also know how to within their scope of practice……. just as SLPs need to have the training and knowledge to know how to also within their scope of practice. 🙂

    I hope that helps to answer your question, and thanks so much for asking this! This is a very thought provoking question and one we get sometimes, especially when SLPs graduate from a graduate program that does not have a graduate level Fluency Disorders course. Take care, and be well.
    Thanks,
    Steff

  2. Hi!
    I agree with my colleague when she says that SLPs should work with people who stutter. The very term PWS includes “person” and without working on the “person” we can’t really be working on the stuttering.
    I do feel that counseling, or working on acceptance of stuttering, feelings and attitudes needs a whole lot of reading over and above the usual syllabus of graduate or post graduate courses in fluency disorders. I would also recommend taking certificate courses in specific counseling approaches like REBT or ACT.
    Having said that, I also feel that one really needs to be alert to negative thoughts and feelings arising out of factors other than stuttering. For instance, a PWS who feels anxious because of his speech needs to be told apart from a PWS who feels anxious all the time. The latter would certainly progress better in his speech sessions if he simultaneously sees a clinical psychologist. Learning to tell the difference of course comes with experience, but a good starting point is to be an alert recipient of information. I say recipient because many times, just listening doesn’t suffice!
    Regards
    Pallavi

  3. This is a great question, thank you for sharing this. I would just add here (and some of the previous comments have indirectly addressed this already). It’s important for SLPs to have the necessary training in the area of stuttering, and to have the training to work on all aspects of stuttering (feelings, behaviors, and thoughts as they relate to stuttering). SLPs need to practice within their scope of practice as it relates to counseling related to stuttering. In addition, SLPs need to know when its appropriate to refer a client to a mental health professional.

  4. HI (I would address you by name, but there was no name signed to the questions).

    Welcome to the ISAD! You ask a good questions. My interpretation of what Woody Starkweather MIGHT be saying (again, how I read this) is counselors and psychologist are trained significantly more about how to treat the affective and cognitive challenges of our human experience. They study and treat all kinds of disorders with a large variety of treatment approaches to help an individual’s mind that is struggling. If that is what he meant, then is correct about that. Most SLPs are not trained (very little)in counseling skills, as compared to your average counselor and psychologist.

    He is also correct that SLPs have the knowledge about stuttering.

    Should psychologist or counselors be treating stuttering? NO. Can SLPs learn a TON from psychologist and counselors to help deepen their treatment skills in order to help PWS more completely? Absolutely!

    Our field came from psychology. Our counseling practices come from psychology. However, it is our research and knowledge of stuttering within speech language pathology that makes us suitable to treat PWS.

    Thanks!
    with compassion and kindness,
    Scott