The Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Module

Cognitive approaches to therapy for stammering

A lifetime of stammering can have a profound effect on the way we perceive ourselves and our relationships with other people. These perceptions can then, in turn, further affect our stammering and how we respond to it. In many adults who stammer, the perceptions that have grown up around stammering constitute a substantial part of the problem, and unless these maladaptive perceptions are addressed, the amount of benefit that can be achieved through speech-therapy and associated fluency-enhancing techniques alone may be severely limited.

The term “Cognitive Therapy” refers to any type of therapy that focuses on cognitions—that is, your perceptions and understandings that are in some way or other related to your condition. Currently, there are two formal approaches that are widely used for stammering, and there is evidence that both of these bring significant benefits to people who stammer. These are

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT),
  • Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT)

The purpose of these forms of cognitive therapy is to help you identify any perceptions and beliefs that are non-adaptive (i.e. that are not helping you to thrive) and to explore ways of changing or modifying those perceptions so that they become as adaptive as possible.

Cognitive therapies are generally administered in a formal way by clinical psychologists, who are specially trained in these approaches, (but do not generally have a deep understanding of stammering). Conversely, speech therapists/pathologists who specialize in stammering generally have only limited knowledge and experience of cognitive therapies. Consequently, there are relatively few clinicians (either clinical psychologists or speech therapists/pathologists) who have an in-depth training in both stammering and cognitive therapies.

In addition to the two formal approaches to cognitive therapy mentioned above, there are a number of activities that you can engage in that have the potential to constitute powerful (informal) forms of cognitive therapy. Studying and learning about stammering is one, and engaging with other people who stammer is another.—Both of these activities can profoundly influence your beliefs and perceptions, in a positive way. Working through the “Understanding Stammering” Module of our SSEP online course will also have a substantial (positive) influence on your understanding, beliefs and perceptions about stammering. Indeed, the Understanding Stammering Module itself constitutes a form of cognitive therapy in its own right.

The following slideshow provides a more detailed explanation of what cognitive therapy for stammering involves.

If you would like to know more about cognitive therapies and their applications for people who stutter, here are some resources that you may find useful…

Free Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) app. For PWS

Free One-to-one Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) for PWS

Free course for PWS from TISA with a strong Cognitive Therapy component

Recommended Books

“From Stuttering to Fluency: Manage Your Emotions and Live More Fully” by Gunars Nieders

The Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Module