About the presenter: Dr. Isabella K. Reichel has been teaching fluency disorders courses at the university level for close to ten years, and has specialized in stuttering intervention for 28 years. Her early training and initial positions in the field were in the former Soviet Union. Here in the United States, she is duly certified in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. She has developed a Fluency Renaissance Program, in which she integrates an emotional intelligence construct into the training of students and the treatment of clients.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2007.

Emotional Intelligence and Stuttering Intervention

by Isabella Reichel
from New York, USA

The ancient split between emotion and intelligence is over. "They are together again, this time under the rubric of emotional intelligence (EI)" (Averill, 2007). The work of many outstanding neural scientists has shown that the mind consists of both thoughts and emotions. Both work together in concert, influencing reasoning and decision making. In order to succeed in stuttering intervention, an understanding of the critical link between thinking and feeling is necessary. Self-defeating and self-handicapping thoughts, abnormal physiological reactions, fear and anxiety, and low self-esteem may often negatively affect decision making and life choices in people who stutter (PWS). Therefore, it is only through addressing the power of the mind and feelings that lasting change in general wellbeing, including successful communication, can be achieved.

Although many leading authorities in the field of stuttering intervention have long presented their philosophy on psychotherapy and counseling approaches with clients who stutter, and have proposed desirable attributes for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) working with PWS, many clinicians do not address the emotional aspects of stuttering, and lack the emotional competencies necessary to effectively treat PWS.

This paper will highlight the conceptual basis of the emotional intelligence construct, describe the most prominent models of EI, and demonstrate how EI can be applied to the training of SLPs, and how it can be integrated into stuttering intervention.

Conceptual Framework of the Emotional Intelligence Construct

In the second half of the twentieth century, the groundwork was laid for the emergence of the concept of emotional intelligence. Various scientists focused on improving the mind, beginning in the 1950s. In the 1960s, attention was given to teaching machines in education. In the 1970s, the experiential part of the personality, by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, was emphasized. In the 1980s, the cognitive revolution in psychology and education came back to prevalence in academic skills, and the focus was on intelligence and educational accountability. In the early 1990s, emotional aspects of the personality predominated (Mayer & Cobb, 2000).

Some researchers believe that emotional intelligence predicts academic achievement as well as occupational success. However, virtually every publication discussing this concept uses a different definition, and makes a different statement about its significance (Mayer & Salovey, 1997).

Salovey and Mayer (1990) presented the first definition of emotional intelligence in 1990 as "the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions" (Salovey & Mayer, 1990, p. 189). About seven years later, this definition was revised as "the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth" (Mayer and Salovey, 1997, p. 5).

Emotionally intelligent people "are generally optimistic, flexible, realistic, and successful at solving problems and coping with stress, without losing control" (Bar-On, 1997, p. 156). They are better able to identify and describe emotions in themselves and in others, can manage states of emotional arousal in themselves and others, and can utilize their feelings and emotions in an adaptive style (Taylor, Parker, & Bagby, 1999).

Models of Emotional Intelligence

Various models of EI have been proposed since 1990. They all have one or more of their components in common: "a) the ability to recognize, understand, and express emotions and feelings; b) the ability to understand how others feel and relate with them, c) the ability to manage and control emotions, d) the ability to manage, change, adapt and solve problems of a personal and interpersonal nature, and e) the ability to generate positive affect and be self-motivated" (Bar-On, 2006).

There are two contrasting models of emotional intelligence. One is the ability model, which integrates emotion and intelligence. The other is a mixed model. The mixed model combines mental abilities with other characteristics of a person, such as personal independence, mood, and self-regard. Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso (2000) suggest that ability models of emotional intelligence meet the requirements for standard intelligence. This means that, for example, people who were considered emotional are now viewed as people who possess complex information processing skills (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000). The Mayer and Salovey Model is the only EI ability model. The rest of the models described below are mixed EI models.

Petrides and Furnham (2000) introduce theoretical differences between trait EI and information processing (ability EI). The trait EI relates to personality traits, such as empathy, optimism, and assertiveness, and should be measured by self-reported tools. In contrast, information-processing (ability EI) is considered as cognitive-ability, should correlate with cognitive intelligence, and is assessed by performance instruments (Petrides & Furnham, 2000).

The ability model defined by Mayer and Salovey (1997) highlights the emotional and cognitive relationship, and consists of four categories: a) the ability to perceive emotions, b) the ability to use emotions to facilitate thought, c) the ability to understand emotions, and d) the ability to manage emotions.

The next popular model is Goleman's mixed model (1997). It consists of five elements: a) self-awareness, b) self-regulation, c) self-motivation, d) empathy, and e) social skills. Goleman's model highlights competencies and their use in social situations.

Still another model (as modified) is Bar-On's competency-based model, which combines emotional-cognitive abilities, other social skills and some personality traits and mood (Bar-On, 2000). This model has 5 components and includes 10 elements. The five components are: a) intrapersonal, which includes competencies such as emotional self-awareness and assertiveness, b) interpersonal, e.g., empathy; and relationships; c) stress management, which includes stress tolerance and impulse control; d) adaptability, which consists of flexibility, reality testing and problem solving; and e) mood, including optimism and happiness.

The EI Module Integrated into Fluency Disorders Classes

The decision to design this EI module was in line with the proposal by Shapiro (1999) to create a curriculum which would highlight the training of students in the emotional domain. In addition, the decision was also in line with the philosophy of Delgado (2000), who focused on the application of psychophysiology, neurobiology, and EI construct in education. Delgado contended that every generation has a responsibility to set prevailing values, and that emotional human qualities can be influenced by emotional education over the human life span.

The EI module was based on Mayer & Salovey's (1997) and Goleman's (1997) theoretical framework. This module included the following activities: short lectures, student presentations, the viewing of videotapes, role play, group discussions, and laboratories with clients who stuttered. During these laboratory sessions, students interviewed clients who stuttered. The interviews provided to all who were involved opportunities to share emotional experiences and to students opportunities to deal with challenging emotional situations. For example, during labs and while viewing videotapes with PWS, students discussed failures in communication, negative reactions of listeners, clients' resistance to treatment, clients' avoidance behaviors, and parental anxiety. Premised on the importance of understanding the developmental, biological and cognitive bases of emotions to the field of stuttering intervention (Horwitz & Reichel, 2003), the EI module incorporated advances from the fields of neural sciences and other allied professions, such as neurobiology, neuropsychology, social sciences, and behavioral science intervention.

Among other topics, the EI module included the neurophysiology and neurobiology of emotions; the role of the autonomic nervous system in emotions; cognitive-emotional interactions; relations between emotions and memory; development of empathy and sympathy; awareness of one's own emotions; ability to discern others' emotions; individual differences in emotions; cultural influences on emotions; theoretical perspectives on emotions; specific emotions and feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, hostility, embarrassment, guilt, and shyness and their management in stuttering intervention; the role of emotions in stereotyping and prejudice; awareness of change, and critical assessment of EI constructs. Training via the module also focused on the facilitation of important emotional competencies, such as empathy, confidence, optimism, flexibility, creativity, risk-taking, and tolerance of diversity, for clinicians (Reichel & St. Louis, 2004).

Applying EI Construct to Stuttering Intervention

This writer suggests that, when SLPs address cognitive and emotional aspects of stuttering, they may design the following goals for their clients: reduction of negative emotions, improvement of self-awareness and self-assertiveness, and mobilization of emotions for managing fears and self-defeating and self-handicapping thoughts. SLPs may also encourage their clients to be more conscious of the feelings of others. This may assist in understanding and coping with the negative stigma associated with PWS (Reichel & St. Louis, 2007).

In order to further address the affective and cognitive aspects of clients who stutter, this writer modified Bar-On's (2000) model with ten EI abilities, which was designed to help people to deal effectively with pressures and demands of everyday life.

    1. Self-regard. Many PWS have a low self-image, and underestimate their merits. Such beliefs result in sadness, dependence, uncertainty, and a lack of drive. SLPs need to improve the clients' ability to accurately self-appraise themselves and their accomplishments.

    2. Assertiveness. PWS are frequently passive, fearful of the reactions of others, and have difficulties expressing their emotions. SLPs' work on assertiveness will mobilize clients' emotional energy and help them to express themselves and their emotions in social settings.

    3. Stress tolerance. Many PWS have difficulties managing their emotions during hyper-arousal. Poor stress management leads to a feeling of hopelessness, helplessness and anxiety. SLPs have to facilitate their clients' compensatory and coping strategies, and their ability to handle anxiety-provoking situations.

    4. Flexibility. Some PWS may lack the experiences to spontaneously adapt their feelings and beliefs to new environments and new people. Their negative deep-seated thoughts can be resistant to change. SLPs need to help their clients to see events from different perspectives, and to improve their clients' ability to change.

    5. Problem solving. Some PWS have difficulties dealing with distorted ideas and behaving in critical situations. Their poor judgment can be clouded by depression or fear. SLPs should guide their clients' reasoning skills and show them how to solve problems of a social nature.

    6. Emotional self-awareness. Some PWS lack the ability to identify their feelings, behaviors, and problems, which leads to frustration and helplessness. SLPs need to help these clients to understand their own emotions, needs, and goals. Such awareness will lead to improved motivation and hope for success.

    7. Impulse control. Poor impulse control in PWS may be caused by fear, anxiety, or panic. Clients may blurt out responses, may arrive at hasty decisions, or take hasty actions. SLPs need to help their clients to improve their clients' ability to manage a variety of emotions for facilitating self-control and composure.

    8. Reality testing. The ability of PWS to accurately validate their feelings, judgments, and cognitions is frequently affected by misperceptions and problem denial. SLPs need to improve their clients' ability to cognitively process emotions and to realistically assess situations.

    9. Empathy. PWS may misjudge the reactions of others to their stuttering. SLPs need to facilitate the awareness and understanding of the feelings of listeners. Understanding emotions of others may assist PWS in coping with negative attitudes toward stuttering.

    10. Interpersonal relationships. The relationships of PWS are often permeated by fear, avoidance, humiliation, and distorted judgments. Therefore, SLPs may help their clients to improve their ability to understand their own emotions and the emotions of others, as well as improve their clients' self-regard and self-actualization.

The EI construct appears to be the right training for changing SLPs' attitudes toward treating PWS and for improving students' emotional competencies. The EI construct suggests that there is a "thinker-with-a-heart, who is engaged in sophisticated information processing, and who, in such a manner, contributes importantly to our lives and culture" (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 2000, p. 295). This is the ideal clinician. The writer hopes that, one day, SLPs will realize that only a thinker with a heart can rise to the occasion to treat those who are afflicted with stuttering. The writer hopes that the EI construct will be a promise to researchers and clinicians who are giving their hearts and their minds to fulfill the quest of generations of persevering PWS to arrive, at last, in "the promised land" of joyous and unrestricted communication (Reichel, 2005). One path that leads to this land is the emotional intelligence construct. Therefore, this writer suggests the following 10 emotional and cognitive transformations for clients who stutter, whose courageous journey SLPs are called upon to guide:
  1. Slavery to freedom;
  2. Fear to courage;
  3. Doubts to trust;
  4. Anger to empathy;
  5. Helplessness to control;
  6. Shame to confidence;
  7. Frustration to happiness;
  8. Avoidance to assertiveness;
  9. Struggle to victory; 1
  10. Withdrawal to joy of communication.


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    You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2007.

    September 11, 2007
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