The Client’s Perspective on Voluntary Stuttering
Courtney T. Byrd,a Zoi Gkalitsiou,a Joe Donaher,b and Erin Stergioua
A review by Jane Stosberg
The authors begin by citing research about voluntary stuttering (also referred to as negative practice, pseudostuttering, and bouncing), noting that it is thought to be used as a technique to reduce fear and anxiety about stuttering and to decrease feelings of loss of control.
The article then delves into lengthy descriptions of past research that they used to develop their own research questions. They spent time describing 2 types of voluntary stuttering:
1) voluntarily imitating the type of stuttering specific to the individual person who stutters (for example, if a person’s stuttering is primarily syllable repetition, then they would practice voluntary stuttering that only uses syllable repetition), and
2) voluntary stuttering that is focused on easy, effortless bouncing or sliding of sounds regardless of types of dysfluencies the client produces.
The authors also determine that past research indicated the need to answer two questions:
1) which type of voluntary stutter may reduce the fear most for a client, and
2) does the use of voluntary stuttering outside of the clinical setting addto the impact of treatment?
The authors set out to answer these questions by asking participants (adults over the age of 18 who stutter) to complete a survey answering 45 questions about their own types of stuttering, the therapy they have participated in and their attitudes about voluntary stuttering.
The results of this survey found that greater reduction in fear was reported for those who said that their voluntary stuttering imitated their real stutters. Those who reported that the use of voluntary stuttering had no effect on their fear of stuttering were more likely to report that their voluntary stuttering did not imitate their real stutter. Along those same lines those who reported voluntary stuttering sounded like their real stutters were more likely to report being more confident in using the voluntary stuttering than those whose voluntary stuttering did not sound like their real stutters.
In addition, those who reported that the use of voluntary stuttering had reduced their fear of stuttering were significantly more likely to respond that they had used voluntary stuttering outside of therapy than those who responded that they never used voluntary stuttering outside of therapy.
The authors conclude that the results from this survey suggest that the perceived benefits of voluntary stuttering are associated with the type of voluntary stuttering produced and whether it is used outside the clinical environment. They extrapolate that these feelings of fear and worry about use of technique are significantly reduced upon initial use and therefore therapists should explain to the client that they must use this technique with increased frequency, especially outside of the clinical setting, in order to experience the benefits of the technique. They also conclude that clinicians should be aware that having a client imitate his or her own type of stuttering may be perceived as more beneficial to the client.
While I think this study helps answer some questions about how clients feel about voluntary stuttering, I am also am aware of the differences in working with children rather than adults. Specifically, children may not have the self-awareness to determine which types of fluency building techniques are most beneficial to reduce their anxiety. I do think we can take away some general lessons, one of which is that we must talk to our students about how they feel about their own stuttering in addition to teaching them techniques. Also an important take away for me is to look for opportunities where I can assist my student in using fluency building strategies outside of our sessions. This article makes me want to increase my efforts to push into the classroom to help my fluency students feel comfortable generalizing strategies we have practiced. Also, I will take a more careful look into how the strategies I teach match each individual’s type of stuttering behaviors.