Understanding Stammering: The theoretical module

Mindfulness and Psychotherapeutic 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 for stammering that focuses on cognitions—that is, your perceptions and understandings that are in some way or other related to the condition. Currently, there are two formal approaches that are widely used, and there is evidence that both of these bring significant benefits to people who stammer. These are

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT),and related variants, such as Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) and personal construct therapy
  • Mindfulness Therapy, and related variants such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

The purpose of all these forms of therapy are 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 disfluency 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. Hopefully working through this Theory Module of our SSEP online course will also have a substantial (positive) influence on your understanding, beliefs and perceptions about stammering. One could consider that the Theoretical Module itself constitutes a form of cognitive therapy in its own right.

For a detailed discussion of mindfulness and cognitive therapy in relation to stammering, work your way through the SSEP online course module on Mindfulness and Cognitive Therapy

Also, read our article:

Mindfulness and Stuttering: How can mindfulness help?

Also, click below to listen to a StutterTalk discussion on Mindfulness, with Dr Tom Weidig and Paul Brocklehurst, recorded at the 2015 IFA conference in Lisbon, Portugal.


And finally, for a complete, detailed description of Paul Brocklehurst’s experiences and experiments with mindfulness, (and much more) you may like to order a copy of Paul Brocklehurst’s book… The Perfect Stutter

End of the Understanding Stammering Module

Understanding Stammering: The theoretical module