Product reviews for Mastering Blocking and Stuttering

Mark Smith, Speaking Out Magazine, Winter 2004
Getting to the root of the stammer
By Mark Smith

I am 45 and have tried various speech therapy techniques over the past 40 years with varying degrees of success. I have been incredibly lucky in that time to have met and had therapy from some of the leading speech therapists in the country. These gifted individuals have given me techniques, which I still use to this day, such as prolonged speech and to a lesser extent block modification. But, and there is always a but, these techniques do not offer for me the full solution. They help prevent some of the overt symptoms of stammering but do not tackle the underlying cause, that is, what triggers my stammering?

Bob Bodenhamer's book, Mastering Blocking and Stuttering, describes the application of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to stammering and attempts to provide an answer to what triggers stammering. The basic concept put forward in the book is that everybody has periods or 'states' of fluency and if only an individual can identify the composite elements of these fluent 'resource states' they can then be applied in situations where dysfluency normally occurs. This will hopefully lead to a natural diminution of the stammer and help the person to focus on elements in life other than their pattern of speaking and people's perception of them. The first chapter concentrates on the origins of stammering and puts forward the theory that the majority of stammering is derived from some childhood trauma or particular circumstance which leads to an internalisation of emotions such as frustration and anger. This manifests itself in a reluctance to speak and hence stammering or blocking occurs. Then as we develop and mature into adulthood our experiences and responses to stammering encode our mind-body system to such an extent that the cues or triggers for stammering have become so embedded that we are not conscious of them happening. These experiences and responses then form layers of emotions which dictate the person's view of the world which is often negative and thus a misperception. The second chapter leads on from this idea that a stammerer's perception of themselves and the outside world has been determined by many years of stammering and that in order to become fluent they have to think differently. In effect, by gradually peeling away the ingrained responses you can get to the essential triggers of stammering. Bob also feels that the person has to admit that they are in control of their stammer and emotions and therefore by dispensing with continual negative thinking they can achieve a state where the stammer has no reason to exist and fluency can almost occur naturally. The rest of the book goes on to provide practical NLP techniques and case studies to help reframe the stammerer's perceptions. These are primarily designed to be used by an experienced NLP practitioner as the psychological techniques are quite complex and will inevitably uncover fairly deep rooted and difficult emotions within the person. That's why I believe that the NLP approach would only succeed if applied by an experienced NLP practitioner. However, I found the book to be tremendously useful to identify a methodology to analyse the psychological aspects of stammering. Even applying some of the basic principles for a few weeks, for example, to stop having a negative framework and perception of oneself and the world, I have found to be enormously uplifting and empowering I have become more relaxed about my stammer and in some situations I am beginning to see a lessening of the fear and anxiety. I shall now seek out an NLP practitioner to continue the therapy.
Guest | 07/01/2005 00:00
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