About the presenter: Ken St. Louis Ph.D., CCC-SLP, has been active in treating people who stutter in individual therapy for more than three decades. For the past decade, he has advocated for and guided group therapy sessions and/or self-help groups as important components in effective treatment of teenagers and adults. Ken, a mostly recovered stutterer himself, is a Board Recognized Specialist in Fluency Disorders and active researcher in public attitudes toward stuttering, stories of stutterers, and cluttering.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2011.

Courageous Realism: Accepting and Facing Down Reality

by Ken St. Louis
from West Virginia

Following is one of many group activities we have developed for our weekly adult stuttering therapy group at West Virginia University. The group therapy model is explained at http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad10/papers/therapy10/stlouis10.html and was demonstrated in a 50 minute session at the National Stuttering Association 2011. (A DVD of the demonstration group therapy session is available for purchase at http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/nsadvd/nsavideos.html#stlouis). Three features we have sought for each group session include: (a) a specific theme and resultant "lessons," (b) something fun, and (c) "real experiences" for participants -- not just ideas. Also, each session is planned to "stand alone" for any one-time participants even though some themes are carried over more than one session.

The theme of "courageous realism: accepting and facing down reality" is part of a series of sessions on "resilience." As always, each session begins with each participant identifying a goal for himself/herself for the one-hour session. Next, for a light-hearted icebreaker to highlight the need for flexibility, participants are given pieces of paper and pencils to draw a picture of a cat. After about a minute, they are told to change their drawing to a dog. And later to a cow. Finally they are told to change it to a house.

The main activity begins with the facilitator assigning each stutterer a real situation that he or she is currently facing, e.g., being accepted into an SLP master 's program, participating work-related meeting for a team project, or accepting a blind date with someone. Then, one-by-one, each person identifies the situation to the group and all the group members suggest to the person the worst thing that could happen to you in that situation. Examples might include flunking out or being told to "Shut up because you can 't talk." The person featured then identifies his/her own appraisal of the worst thing that could happen. Everyone participates similarly, in no particular order, but with the previously mentioned proviso that anyone can "pass" for any activity if he/she feels too uncomfortable.

Next, the same situation is revisited, one-by-one, and all participants -- followed by each person featured -- identify the best thing that could happen in that situation. Examples might be that you will be appointed CEO of the company or you will end up getting married to the person.

Finally, each person states what is most likely to happen in or because of that situation. This time, others do not disagree or embellish, but listen to what the person has concluded.

To process the activity, the facilitator invites everyone to share what they have learned by listening to and considering the worst, best, and most likely things that could happen to them, given their current situations. There are no right or wrong answers here; each person's conclusion is accepted as meaningful to them. Lessons are summarized by the facilitator, such as, "Wishful thinking may not be reality," "We often over-estimate or over-dramatize the worst thing that could happen in various situations," "It takes courage to 'roll with the punches,'"etc.

The group session concludes with each person rating how well they did on their individual goals on a scale from 1-10.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2011.

SUBMITTED: July 18, 2011
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