Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Adults Who Stutter

Why We Use Acceptance And Commitment Therapy For Adults Who Stutter

At Well Said: Toronto Speech Therapy we embrace counseling strategies in most of our treatment programs. We value incorporating the latest research on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The synergy between the practice of psychology and speech-language pathology provides our clients with the best quality full-service

Discover how this new therapy is helping adults who stutter:

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

For decades, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has been researched in the field of Psychology and refined into a science-based intervention for adults to overcome mental health conditions. The treatment focusses on human language and cognition in order to enhance the well-being of the client. The underlying principles emphasize differences between the rational mind solving problems (i.e., providing worksheets) versus the helping people who are suffering emotional pain (i.e., providing validation). Based on this premise, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy promotes:

1.    Using psychological flexibility to accept that you stutter and not try to change this

2.    holding a positive self-concept even if you are dysfluent

3.    reflecting on your values, assessing what is important to you, establishing goals and following through on them

4.    embracing mindfulness as a relaxation strategy that will decrease anxiety, improve mood, and thus allow you to be more fluent; and,

5.    demonstrating behavioral flexibility.

How Is Acceptance And Commitment Therapy Delivered? 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is delivered in a speech therapy clinic with a registered speech-language pathologist. We offer the following sessions: one-on-one, group practice, or online via an online conferencing application (e.g. Facetime or Skype).

What Is The Evidence For This Type Of Therapy?

Research shows that adults who stutter have demonstrated significant improvements in all psychological wellness domains and in speech fluency when taking part in an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy program. More importantly, the gains were successfully maintained.

Acceptance And Commitment Therapy Vs. The Old Way

This innovative new therapy method for adults who stutter is an exciting and promising shift from previous stuttering treatment programs. For years, clients have reported that they know the breathing, slowing down, stretching, and easy onset strategies, and that they can speak fluently in the speech therapy session. And yet, issues still arise when they face real-world pressure or stress.

As someone with a background in psychology, this makes complete sense. All people, those who stutter and those who don't, have an increased stuttering rate when under stress or pressure. This response happens as the nervous system activates and triggers stress response hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into our bodies. When this happens, our cognitive energy is diverted by our physiological high alert mode and away from less essential tasks like monitoring speech fluency or processing language. I call this the stuttering - anxiety spiral.

Differences Between Stuttering In Adults And Children

The treatment necessary for adults who stutter is vastly different from treatment for children who stutter. Adults who stutter, as evidenced by the focus on psychological-speech fusion treatments, have significant and sometimes traumatic histories around their dysfluency. Experiencing years of accumulated anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, and feelings of shame takes a toll on the psychological wellness of the affected adult. For this reason, our team of experts advocates that every speech program for adults who must focus on psychological-speech fusion treatments.

Meanwhile, speech therapy programs for children often solely offer traditional fluency tools, without a counseling component. In most cases, children have not accumulated negative experiences, thoughts, and feelings around their stuttering. Hopefully, a child's stuttering can be improved before it takes on an emotional life.

If you are an adult who stutters, I recommend that you inquire about your speech therapist's thoughts on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Please make sure that you work with a professional who has significant experience in providing this type of treatment with adults.