Iceberg of Stuttering

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Re: comments on iceberg analogy

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/9/03
Time: 12:14:45 PM
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Hello Tzivia!

BRILLIANT question! That tells me that you have REALLY begun to understand the iceberg! I was wondering when anyone was going to pick up on that situation...

Okay, if the iceberg analogy is correct, what happens if you remove some - any part - of it? As ice is less dense than water (and for this purpose we'll assume that it is), the iceberg will RISE! That's what caused my own relapse, and it's the same immutable law of physics that determines that the covert stutterer will begin to show more OVERT stuttering! And that's exactly what scares the pants off a lot of covert stutterers! The laws of physics, however, states that to recover from covert stuttering, you MUST pass through a phase of overt stuttering! "No way am I gonna do that!" the covert stutterer yells. "I came here to learn to stutter LESS not MORE!" Sorry Charlie, I can't repeal the laws of physics...

Now in the perfect world you as a therapist would work on BOTH the top and the bottom of the iceberg at the same time. So that when there is a loss of 100 tons below, there is a corresponding loss of 1 ton above. (Density = 99%) But also remember the exception in the analogy - that when you remove some off the top, you actually ADD more to the bottom. So you wind up walking a very fine line with your above/below work.

What tends to work best is to ALLOW the covert stutterer to actually EXPERIENCE some real audible stuttering and show him or her that the world does not end. Your concentration should still be on the bottom of the iceberg where 99% of the problem lies. Remember the primary emotion is FEAR down below, so to deal with this fear, you MUST expose the stutterer to "real" stuttering and show him that he CAN handle it.

So while 99% of your work - the HARD part - is still down below, the 1% still needs to be addressed. But that's relatively easy. Expose the covert stutterer to some standard fluency shaping or stuttering modification techniques (light contact, slow speech, continuous phonation, etc.), and show him how to deal with the little fish when they appear. Once they begin to gain confidence handling the little fish, the Great White Shark seems to be a little less scary.

It's a long row to hoe, no doubt. But the iceberg at least gives you some guidance on the path to recovery. Great observation, Tzivia! You're gonna make a fantastic SLP!

Good luck! And thanks for stopping by!

See you on Stutt-L!


Last changed: September 12, 2005