Welcome to the Stammering Self-Empowerment Programme (SSEP)

Helping people who stammer (stutter)

to achieve their optimal level of fluency and to develop their communication abilities to the fullest extent possible.

Support though a combination of education and therapy

No matter whether you are a person who stammers, a parent of a child who stammers, or a speech and language therapist who specialises in stammering, it is our hope that you will find this website to be a valuable source of information and inspiration that will help you on your journey.

Currently the SSEP’s key activities are as follows:

1.  Maintaining and further developing our Free Online Course

2.  Hosting Mindfulness Events (both live retreats and online mindfulness sessions)

3.  Researching and documenting the long-term effectiveness of our approach

Our Free Online Course

A core belief that has guided our development of the online course is that the more you understand about the nature of stammering (stuttering)— the better you will be able to manage and control it.

Our online course therefore differs substantially from the traditional forms of speech therapy and psychotherapy that are routinely offered to people who stammer. Most notably, in addition to teaching ways to increase your fluency and to reduce your avoidance of feared situations, our online course also explains in detail what is currently known about how and why people start to stammer in the first place. So, as you work your way through the online course you will learn about the various factors that contribute to the onset and persistence of stammering; how it changes over time; and why it sometimes spontaneously goes into remission. The course also provides a broad overview of the most widely used traditional therapy approaches that therapists employ in their attempts to ameliorate it.

By providing you with a broad understanding of the nature of stammering and a clear overview of therapy options, our hope is that the online course will enable you determine for yourself exactly which therapeutic approaches are likely to be best suited to your own unique situation and circumstances.

In addition to teaching you about the nature of stammering, the online course also teaches two  fluency-inducing techniques: “Orchestral Speech” and “The Jump” that the SSEP has been developing and trialling over the past ten years.

These new techniques have been inspired by recent advances in psycholinguistic research. Their key advantage (compared to the more traditional fluency techniques) is that they feel (and sound) very natural, and once learned, they can be employed in everyday life situations with a minimum of effort. This means that, unlike many of the traditional fluency techniques, they do not slow you down or get in the way of your ability to focus on what you want to say.

Together, Orchestral Speech and The Jump should minimize the frequency with which blocks occur and minimize their duration when they do occur. Once learned, these techniques should provide you with a robust degree of confidence that, even if you find yourself blocking, the blocks will be short-lived, and you will still be able to quickly and efficiently get your messages across. As this confidence develops, the tendency to block will reduce and the severity of your secondary symptoms will decrease.

Just to clarify—this online course is indeed, genuinely, completely free. There are no hidden charges. The only thing we ask in return is that you complete the various questionnaires that accompany the course, in order to provide us with feedback of your progress. This is so that we can continue to improve the course for people in the future.

Start the Online Course

Meditation and Mindfulness

In recent years, an increasingly impressive body of evidence has emerged indicating that regular meditation and mindfulness practice can provide significant amelioration of the symptoms associated with a wide range of anxiety and stress-related disorders. This has prompted interest, in the stammering world, in the possibility that mindfulness training may also help people who stammer.

Our own experience of mindfulness practices suggests that such training can indeed help people who stammer in a number of ways, details of which can be found in the Mindfulness and Cognitive Therapies Module of our online course. We therefore wholeheartedly encourage people who stammer to undergo mindfulness training, and to develop their own regular mindfulness practice.

visit the Mindfulness and Cognitive Therapy Module of the Online Course

Mindfulness Activities Hosted by the SSEP

As an additional support, and to further deepen your mindfulness practice, for some years now, the SSEP has been hosting  online meditations and also a variety of residential mindfulness retreats. The retreats currently take place in the village of Etsaut, in the French Pyrenees, and are designed for a maximum of about 10 people. They are of varying lengths – between 3 days and 1 week and are intended for people who already have a basic knowledge and experience of mindfulness.

Click the button below details of upcoming mindfulness events.

Mindfulness Events Hosted by the SSEP

Researching and Documenting the Long-term Effectiveness of our Online Course

It is in the nature of stammering that its symptoms can be relieved in the short-term by almost any form of therapy. As often than not, however, after an initial ‘honeymoon’ period, the initial gains that clients have made gradually disappear, ultimately leaving them little or no better off than before they started.

We believe that in order for therapy to be reliably effective in the long term, clients need to have a clear understanding of how and why the techniques they are asked to practice should work, and they need to know how they can be adapted to the various situations they will encounter in their everyday life. Furthermore, to be reliable, the techniques need to continue to work irrespective of whether or not clients have faith in them.

The only way of determining whether or not our onlinecourse (and other forms of therapy) adequately fulfil these needs, is by continuing to monitor clients’ progress over an extended period of time after whatever therapy they have undertaken has ended.  Unfortunately, to date, very few therapeutic programmes have ever done this. As a result there is very little reliable evidence to indicate which forms of clinical intervention for stammering are effective in the long term and which are not.

The continuing lack of reliable evidence of the long-term effectiveness of speech therapy interventions for stammering has contributed to the failure of health services worldwide to provide adequate funding for such therapy. Instead, other conditions are prioritised for which there is reliable evidence that therapy provides lasting benefits.

We want to help change this unsatisfactory state of affairs. But to do so, we need as many of you as possible to cooperate, by completing the various surveys and questionnaires that constitute our ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of the online course.

Thus, after you start our online course, we will send you questionnaires at 6 monthly intervals for up to 2 years. These questionnaires will enable you to provide feedback regarding which modules of the course you have worked your way through, and which (if any) fluency techniques you have adopted and are continuing to use. Also, at 6 monthly intervals, we will invite you complete a standardized (OASES) self-assessment of stuttering severity. This OASES assessment has been adopted by therapists and researchers worldwide and provides the best possible way of monitoring changes in individuals’ stuttering over time and comparing the effectiveness of different therapy approaches.

By cooperating with this research and responding to our questionnaires and assessments, you will help provide the data that is needed in order to ensure that, for future generations, effective therapy for stammerers becomes properly funded and available – both in the UK (through the NHS) as well as in other countries.

The Perfect Stutter

by Dr. Paul H Brocklehurst (founder of the SSEP)

In this book, Paul discusses his own experiences of stammering and how they affected his life. He then goes on to explore what is currently known about the condition, and he describes in detail the research and experimental findings that led to the development of the SSEP online course.

From the Preface

The journey really began in my early teens, following a number of experiences of the stutter going into remission. Although I relapsed and my symptoms returned, those early experiences impressed upon me the extent to which changes in my beliefs about stuttering appeared to have the capacity to bring about corresponding changes in the stutter itself. As I became aware of this, I started to wonder whether it may be possible to arrive at an understanding of stuttering that would permanently reduce its severity and perhaps even stop it from arising at all.

This book describes my search for that understanding.

I have divided the book into two parts: The first part – which is largely autobiographical – covers my life between the age of fourteen and forty-two. It describes the period during which, despite my efforts, the stutter remained partially out of control, and although its symptoms became substantially less severe, I was nevertheless still afraid of it. This first part ends with a description of how my understanding suddenly changed, and the fear finally relented.

In the second part of the book, I describe how my life changed after the fear had gone. In particular, I focus on my experience of returning to university – first to study speech therapy and then to research stuttering, and I discuss how this study and research deepened my understanding of the disorder and helped me to further consolidate my recovery.

I hope The Perfect Stutter will prove both useful and entertaining to anyone whose life is in some way affected by stuttering, including not only stutterers themselves but also researchers and therapists – and, indeed, anyone who is interested in the wider relationship between the ways we perceive and our ability to communicate.

‘The Perfect Stutter’ is currently available in paperback and e-book formats

The Stammering Self-Empowerment Programme’s long-term aims are:

To work together with stammerers, researchers, and clinicians to develop new, more effective ways of helping people who stammer achieve their full potential for fluent speech and successful communication.

To provide a free service that makes this help accessible to as many people as possible.