About the presenter: Michael Sugarman was co-founder of the National Stuttering Project (NSP) in 1977. He became the Executive Director of NSP 1978 -1981 and again in 1995 -1997. Published numerous articles on self help in academic journals and other publications. Recently, named to the Stutterers Hall of Fame. Currently, Chair of International Fluency Association's Suuport Group and Consumer Affairs Committee.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2005.

International Stuttering Support Group Project

by Michael Sugarman
from California, USA

The International Stuttering Support Group Project (ISSGP), an ad hoc undertaking by the Support Group and Consumer Affairs Committee of the International Fluency Association and International Stuttering Association, offers people living with stuttering and speech professionals a thirteen week plan for establishing an on-going support group for people who stutter.

The (ISSGP) format is co-facilitated by a peer and a speech professional. The course offers 13 weekly topics, homework assignments to be completed by participants and a pre and post course questionnaire to help track personal growth. Meetings offer participants a place to learn from one another while empowering them to change their attitudes and beliefs about stuttering.

Benefits may include improved communication skills, an improved sense of control over stuttering and enhanced self-awareness and self-esteem.

ISSGP may also be useful for individuals who desire to maintain fluency after receiving speech therapy.


Each meeting description provides a meeting topic, associated goal with respect to participants, prescribed meeting activities and the "homework" participants need to do in advance for the meeting.

Orientation Meeting
You want to start by taking the pre-questionnaire and discussing overview of course and expectations of participants and then assign Homework #1.

Homework for Meeting 1: Read two articles; these articles are available at www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/isadarchive/onlineconferences.html and www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/stuttering.htm about the current thinking on stuttering. Then answer these questions before the meeting: What causes stuttering? What are some stuttering behaviors? Draw a circle and divide into four parts. Can you name four components of stuttering?
Meeting 1 Topic: Overview of Stuttering
Goal: To increase each participant's knowledge and understanding about stuttering and people who stutter.
Activities: 1) A presentation reviewing the current knowledge base on stuttering and 2) Question and answer period.

Homework for Meeting 2: Using lined paper; divide the paper in two parts, with the left column for listing significant dates in your life. Create a chronology story of your experiences with stuttering starting with your birth date and important events such as the age that you recognized you stuttered, memorable communications with others when you stuttered, and the date you entered speech therapy. Meeting 2 Topic: Our Stuttering History
Goal: To have each participant share their experiences with stuttering in order to validate their experiences and share common concerns.
Activity: Each individual share his or her stuttering chronology/stuttering.

Homework for Meeting 3: Make a list of positive and negative experiences you have had with a speech therapist? Then list words that describe the concepts of dependency and independence with your speech therapist? Meeting 3 Topic: Speech Therapy
Goal: To discuss positive and negative aspects of therapy. Explore how the clinician/client relationship can be strengthened.
Activity: 1) The clinician presents an overview of intervention strategies and 2) Participants discuss their own histories and experiences with speech therapy

Homework for Meeting 4: Describe situations when you stutter? How do you feel when you stutter? Meeting 4
Topic: Personal Awareness
Goal: To increase each participant's personal awareness of his/her stuttering.
Activity: The facilitator discusses different aspects of stuttering.

Homework for Meeting 5: Write down three times when you have taken a risk this month? Meeting 5 Topic: Taking Risks
Goal: To identify the risks participants have already taken with regard to their stuttering. Provide support and guidance for taking risks in the future.
Activity: 1) Discuss the risks participants have taken; and, 2) Encourage participants to devise one risk they can attempt at home.

Homework for Meeting 6: List three times you've said yes and three times you've said no in the last month? Next to your "yes" or "no" describe how you felt? Meeting 6 Topic: Self Esteem
Goal: To increase the self-esteem of each participant and explore the role that stuttering plays in the development and maintenance of one's self-identity. Activity: Discuss the ability of participants to say "yes" and "no". In addition, discuss how stuttering may lead to resistance to participate in activities. Have members share perceptions of themselves in different situations and relationships, for example, with family, with friends, at work and in intimate relationships.

Homework for Meeting 7: Describe a time when you experienced "shame" due to your stuttering. Meeting 7 Topic: Shame
Goal To identify the role of shame in participant's personal development.
Activity: Explore how shame has manifested itself in our development.

Homework for Meeting 8: Record activities/positive things you do for yourself for example, take a walk, meditate or do yoga exercises. Meeting 8 Topic: Holistic Approach
Goal: To increase feeling "good" about oneself
Activity: Discuss "What I do for myself that makes me feel good" and "when I feel good..."

Homework for Meeting 9: Make a list of people who support you emotionally and how they provide support. Meeting 9 Topic: Your Support System
Goal To increase your circle of support
Activity Discuss the benefits of a support network and brainstorm ways to extend that network.

Homework for Meeting 10: Write a short paragraph answering "What happens to me when I am stressed?" Meeting 10 Topic: Stress
Goal: To teach stress management
Activity: Discuss how stress may affect stuttering among participants and how participants manage stress.

Homework for Meeting 11: Describe, "What I do to cope with my stuttering? Meeting 11 Topic: Living with Stuttering
Goal: To develop coping skills to deal with stuttering.
Activity: Discuss, how participants manage their stuttering.

Homework for Meeting 12: Visit www.stutteringhomepage.com or www.stutterisa.com to learn about two organizations one in your area and the other somewhere in the world. Meeting: 12 Topic: Building Community
Goal: To show participants they are not alone
Activity: Discuss stuttering organizations at the local, national and international level. Discuss the "Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for People who Stutter." At the end of the meeting complete the post course questionnaire.

Homework for Meeting 13: Cook a contribution for the "pot luck" Meeting 13 Topic: Celebrate
Goal: To promote continuity of support among meeting participants beyond the fourteen week format
Activity: Share thoughts about how you can maintain your relationship with other members, discuss your outcome from pre and post questionnaire, and have a "pot luck" meal together.

Sugarman, M. Self Help Workbook for People who stutter, 1990.
Sugarman, M. Peer Counseling and Self Help Facilitation for People who Stutter, 1996.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2005.

July 19, 2005
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