How To Choose A Therapy/Therapist

Gerald F. Johnson, Ph.D.
474 Lake Bluff Lane
Grafton(Milwaukee), WI 53024

Pick and choose from among these questions and comments. Be realistic with your own expectations. If you feel comfortable with your answers


1. Interview the person who will guide you through the therapy process. How experienced is this person? How many persons who stutter has this person worked with? What experiences did this person have in practicum (learning to do therapy)? Is this person certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)? Will this therapist do some demonstration therapy with you so you can get a feel for it? Have this person tell you about some of the people he/she has worked with and what the therapy outcome was for each. Ask about his/her hobbies, interests, avocations, vacations. Do you like this person? Will you have confidence and faith in his/her clinical skills and judgment?

2. Interview other persons who stutter who are no longer in this therapy. How personal and individualist was their treatment program? How are they doing? What can they tell you about the therapy they had? How are they coping with any stuttering residual? How were they personally treated by the person doing the therapy? Does the primary therapist do the therapy? How much contact time did they have with this person?

3. How much time will be spent out of the therapy room and in real situations such as in your natural environment? Will you be made to feel that you can transfer the therapy into your natural environment? Does the therapy feel "natural" to you so that you will use what you have learned or will you have to monitor every speech movement in order to improve? Will the therapist take you out into the real world and imitate your stuttering to people while you stand back and watch the situation? How timid is your therapist in doing real and natural environmental speaking situations? Do you and does your therapist feel comfortable in dealing with real world type speaking situations?

4. Will you be taught to touch and feel your stuttering and to learn from it? Are you only taught to speak fluently while subverting your strong sense and need to stutter? You know how to speak fluently, even if you don't realize it, so what are you learning about your stuttering? Can you stop, analyze, and change your stuttering habit into a more acceptable form of stuttering? Will you learn how to desensitize yourself to the strong forces of stuttering? Are you made to feel guilty about stuttering, since you must become "stutter free" or you must "stop stuttering"? Are these realistic goals for you?

5. Will you be able to develop the heart, spirit, guts, and perseverance to carry through with your therapy in a realistic manner? Or, will the guilt of stuttering imperfection haunt you throughout therapy and beyond? Are you allowed to set your own personal goals for therapy, or will you be therapist driven to account for your behavior by therapist standards? How realistic are the therapy standards and will you feel comfortable in attempting to achieve them?

6. Are the success statistics of this therapy program realistic in your mind or are they pronounced to "sell" the program? Is it realistic to assume that a two day or a three week program will produce "stutter free speech" and that you will "stop stuttering" in that period of time? How confident are you that this type of program will meet your individual needs? Will you be the guilty party if you don't mirror the success statistics of the program? Are you told: "I taught you what to do now why don't you do it?"

7. Are you treated like an individual with Individual needs or are you forced to fit the therapy mold-to do what everybody does because it is "good for you"? Are you brought into a group of other persons who stutter without regard to the severity of your stuttering?

8. Are your needs understood by the therapist? Are you told by the therapist "I know how you feel," when you really feel that this person doesn't have a clue? Does the omnipitant and guru type therapist disturb you? Does the therapist have all the answers without listening to what you are talking about? Are you allowed to talk, to agree or disagree?

9. Can you afford the therapy in terms of therapy dollars, time from family and work, and travel and living expenses? If you are allowed to bring to your therapy your family or people close to you, will they be allowed in therapy with you as "therapy buddies?" Is your therapy an exclusive club or will your associates become a part of the therapy process?

10. How committed are you to the program? From all that you have learned, will you give it all you have from the very beginning and continue with a positive attitude throughout the therapy and beyond? Stuttering therapy takes time and a lot of hard work and a drive to get better in spite of setbacks along the way-will you be able to tolerate the time, energy, and personal commitment it will take to change your stuttering and behavioral habit? Will you dive in and set your sights on your personal goals for improvement? Will you be able to become emotionally attached to your therapy so as to apply your full energies to it?

added with permission, October 29, 1998