What is Avoidance Reduction Therapy for Stuttering?
Stuttering is a neuro-developmental communication disorder that most often begins in early childhood as repetition of sounds and words. Reactivity to one’s own disfluency, and efforts to conceal stuttering from others, result in speech and behavior patterns that are struggled.
Listeners may often believe that struggled speech is the primary feature of stuttering. However, the burden of concealment of stuttering involves enormous mental energy; it can be exhausting to arrange, avoid, or alter communication to maintain “false” fluency. The resulting struggle goes beyond speech. It can affect confidence, school and job performance, and decision-making. For many there is significant life impact. Avoidance Reduction Therapy for Stuttering at the University of Maryland is carried out in a group setting where participants can benefit from the support of others who stutter. The goal of therapy is to achieve comfortable, forward-moving speech that is free of struggle and control. Group members carry out assignments to achieve comfortable speech and reduce fear of speaking. Outcomes include the freedom to spontaneously say what you want, when you want; and to speak comfortably, confidently and efficiently.
What happens in Group Therapy?
Group therapy meets once weekly for 90 minutes. There are approximately 6 participants in each group. Group participants work toward achieving individualized goals and objectives by practicing speech skills, participating in discussions, and carrying out speech assignments. Examples of discussion topics include speaking fears, shame and embarrassment, and strategies for generalization of skills to the classroom, workplace, and community. Participants are given guidance to formulate and evaluate their weekly plans for speech work outside the clinic setting. Clinicians provide feedback on progress toward achieving goals, model new behaviors, and provide explanations and resources to participants. Group participants receive written treatment plans and progress reports.