Tony Troiano extracted the public files of discussion between David McGuire and several others from the 8/9/97 - 8/17/97 archives of Stutt-L. They are printed below as submitted with the permission of the list owner, Woody Starkweather. You can search what various discussants contributed by using the "find" function on your browser and typing in the last name. The discussants included: Anita S. Blom, Grant Cairns, Chris Casely, Adam M. Charney, E. Christensen, Ed Feuer, John C. Harrison, Louise Heite, Knut Jarle Hjornevik, Joan, Joseph Klein, Norbert Lieckfeldt, Jim McClure, David McGuire, Cynthia Scace, Woody Starkweather, Matt Toomey, and Tony Troiano. (Ira Zimmerman has requested his part of the discussion be deleted. This was done August 18, 1999).
From: David McGuire

Dear stutt-l,

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Dave McGuire. In 1994 I founded the McGuire Program in Europe which you may have read about or seen recently on NBC Dateline.

From what I understand, a recent graduate of our program, Matt Toomey, came on the stut-hlp forum and received a mixed response. Actually, 'mugged' would be a better term. He forwarded a few of the more heated exchanges, but I was in Ireland at the time so this is my first chance to respond. I intend to put this on all the forums as rumor has it that we got slammed on all three.

I must admit to being offended at some postings and was ready to start slinging some mud myself. Some of the postings looked like deliberate attempts to discredit the program and me by distorting facts and violating rules of logic. I chose, however, to assume that the negative responses are due to misunderstanding of our program as well as some people holding on to old belief systems which may not be valid anymore.

I will do my best to answer your questions and concerns, but I can only stay on line for a few days as I'm quite busy. Hopefully, some other graduates of our course can log on as well.

Anyway, here are my responses to some issues most of which I have dealt with before:

Our success rate:

Our critics said many times that we are only helpful to "some" people who come through our program and the rest are disappointed and perhaps made even worse. This is not true. We are more than helpful to the great majority. We spend considerable effort in evaluating our results which show that 75% to 80% experience a significant (if not total) improvement and a profound life change which holds up and improves over time. The other 20 to 25%, for whatever reason, do not succeed simply because they stop trying.

You can confirm this by asking to see our formal evaluations or just asking those from our program who come on this forum questions like: "how many others from your group were helped and are still doing well?" "Do you have contact with graduates from other courses? If so, how are they doing?" etc. If you like, I'll send you a long list of graduate's phone numbers.

Those who attended after 1994 will verify that anywhere from 50% to 90% (again average 75 to 80%) of their group have greatly improved, have recovered from relapses, are still doing well, and are improving. However, if you happen to ask someone from the 1994 program (my first year), they'll tell you most (probably 90%) were not successful. I think this "first year flop" is a common scenario for most therapists and programs, but it is grossly unfair for anyone to use early data to portray the effectiveness of any program or therapist. Please be fair (get sufficient data and don't distort it) in any kind of personal assessment especially if you pass it on to others.

Research and evaluations:

I'm a great believer in scientific proof when it comes to stammering. We therefore spend considerable effort in verifying our results and evaluating other things like personality change. I think every therapist or program, licensed or unlicensed, should be required to be formally evaluated and have these results made public. We now have two evaluations completed and one in the works. Here's a summary:

Internal evaluation: Last year we completed a three part internal self-evaluation covering students who had been on the course from January 1995 through mid 1996. With one of these, we used Boberg's Speech performance questionnaire (self-evaluation) as a model where we also compared our results to his. If anyone would like to see this, contact me at I will try to send it as an attachment (word 7, windows 95).

External evaluation: Nic Cox, now a Licensed Speech Pathologist, did his graduate research project on some of our students while at University College London. Although not conclusive as it is limited in number of subjects and duration, it was positive enough to show we're on the right track and is the pilot project for our current more extensive, longer-term research evaluation. It also might be published in a journal. It is quite technical but if you would like to see it (62 pages), send $10 for copying, handling and postage to me at Dassenbos 40, 2134RE Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.

Current evaluation: Nic Cox is currently conducting a research project with 50 students over 18 months using the format of his first project. This should be completed and hopefully published by late 1998. I will be happy to let anyone interested know what specific areas are being researched.

I have an open invitation for other researchers and graduate students to use us for their projects. Hopefully we (or someone) can come up with a nice grant for this.

Licensed Speech Pathologists and the McGuire program:

There has been an ongoing conflict between us and **some** speech therapists. At various points both sides have been unfair and down right nasty in making our points. Recently, however, more and more open-minded, licensed professionals are seeing the value of our work, referring students, and are helping out with the follow-up work. One very special therapist, Rosemarie Hayhow, has even started a weekly support group for our graduates in the Bristol area. In June, some graduates and myself gave a seminar to a group of speech therapists in Edinburgh which was informative and rather fun for us both.

I have an open invitation for licensed professionals to learn this method/system by observing and participating in any course(s). I make time for feedback and explanations. There is no charge for this training and they get a free copy of my manual "Freedom's Road".

The Del Ferro Program:

About half of our program is based on teachings from the Del Ferro program. I've heard the words "quack" and "charlatan" used in reference to them as well as the words "savior", "genius" and "hero". Having been through their program myself and found immense benefit (Len Del Ferro is definitely a hero in my book), I think it is a fine program for those truly motivated to overcome stammering. I also believe, however, there are things they could do to improve the program such as incorporating voluntary stammering and non-avoidance principals and developing a better follow-up program.

Although I saw (or heard of) most of my Del Ferro group relapse and heard (second-hand) about high percentages of other groups relapsing, it would be unfair of me to comment about their success rate as I have lost touch with these students. It is very possible that most of those who relapsed got down to work and recovered.

Del Ferro did not have a formal internal or external success evaluation when I attended in 1993. They may have one now and, if so, it would be interesting to see the results. Regardless, it is very unfair (and perhaps unethical for professionals) to call Len Del Ferro or his daughter the Q-word or C-word based on the current evidence.

At least as of four years ago, Del Ferro has used diaphragm training based on rib expansion with absolutely no abdominal involvement. At the time, they didn't seem to understand the differentiation between the crural and costal diaphragm or the separate innervation. Although they were speaking Dutch (sometimes translating as my Dutch was very poor at the time) it appeared that they believed the diaphragm pushed up on the lungs rather than simply releasing the vacuum. But to them and their successful students, it didn't matter because it was working and apparently still is as their program is flourishing.

Training and certification

One well-worn slam against our program is that we are not trained in stammering therapy nor are we licensed or certified. In my three and a half years of doing this work, I've helped hundreds of stammerers. I would estimate over 90% tell me about having wasted their time and money on "qualified, licensed speech therapists" who did absolutely nothing except give them a sense of hopelessness with their ineffectiveness.

It would be easy for me to generalize here as my own personal experiences with SLP's (when my stammer was destroying my life) has been depressingly negative in addition to all the stories I hear from my students. But I know that would be unfair. For the record, I have great respect for the very effective, open-minded licensed speech therapists that are down in the trenches doing their best to help stammerers. There just aren't enough of them to do the job. My issue is with whatever regulatory body exists (if any) for speech therapy as a profession that 'should' require more training and controls (success evaluations) to deal with those who stutter.

Having said this, I believe all who work with stammerers part or full time should be required to go through a two year training + internship and be certified specifically for stammering. This includes non-professionals such as myself as well as regular speech therapists. In addition, all should be required to be evaluated for effectiveness by a regulatory agency.

Costal vs. Crural breathing

Some of our professional critics say there is no evidence to support costal breathing as part of the treatment of stammering. Some even say it is not possible to breathe more from the costal diaphragm than the crural. These people did not bother to find the research available. But research on the diaphragm is difficult to find, so here's something from The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine (vol. 99 #5), May 1982 entitled "The Diaphragm in Health and Disease" by Peter Macklem of McGill University: (pg. 602) Stimulation of the C5 nerve root results in excitation of the costal part of the diaphragm, with no excitation of the crural part. Stimulation of the C7 nerve root excites the crural part of the diaphragm and causes a small degree of excitation of the posterior part of the costal diaphragm. The C6 nerve root innervates primarily the posterior part of the costal diaphragm and the crural diaphragm. (i.e.: it is possible for the costal diaphragm to function independently.) (pg. 603) "The costal diaphragm inflates the rib cage, but the crural part does not. Because these two parts have different actions and different segmental innervations, it is appropriate to consider the diaphragm as consisting of two muscles rather than one."

(Pg. 603) "Although it is traditional to think of the diaphragm as a single muscle, it is really more appropriate to think of it as two separate muscles with different segmental innervations, different evolutionary and embryological origins, and different actions."

Probably more intriguing is: "The phrenic nerve which innervates both the costal and crural parts, was named because the early Greek philosophers thought the diaphragm was the seat of the soul. The early Greek work for soul was 'phrenes'. So the phrenic nerves are called the nerves of the soul. This puts the diaphragm in a different category from the one in which we usually think of it." (Pg. 602)

If you're interested, you might look up another article entitled "Respiratory Muscle Incoordination During Stuttering Speech". (vol. 141, June 1990 American Review of Respiratory Disease) by Macklem, Del Ferro (and others).

Of course, neither of these are conclusive enough to 100% validate what I'm doing and more research needs to be done. But there is enough in combination with my results to back up my theory and encourage further research. The conclusive scientific proof, however, will have to be obtained as we continue to help those who stammer.

Is this a new method?

Critics say there is nothing new about this method stating that both voluntary stammering (and other Sheehan concepts) and breathing treatment have been around for many years. These people have very limited knowledge of our program or method and base their statements on skimpy evidence. I find this quite surprising as some of these people are highly educated leaders in the field who should know better.

It's true that the Sheehan component of our program has been around for decades. The costal breathing technique and the intensity to which it is applied in combination with concentration exercises, however, is fairly new (15 to 20 years)and is unique although one probably could find a program sometime/somewhere that has tried the same thing. But we also use concepts and practices from Gallway, Rogers, Boberg, McMillan, Neilson, Craig, Macklem, Bertins, Frazier, Harrison, Jeffers, Glickstein, Perkins, Smith, Van Riper, as well as a few old cow punchers I worked with in Oregon.

What these critics fail to acknowledge is that it is not the components, but the combination and the manner with which these components are put together which make the total system new and unique. If you look at any newdevelopment or discovery, you see it is usually the product of a combination of other discoveries.

Those graduates of our program who have followed directions, worked very hard, and persevered (and therefore have been successful) believe that this method is indeed new and wonderful. And most of these graduates have been through many other therapies.

Joseph Sheehan, voluntary stammering, and desensitization:

We use Sheehan's teachings -- especially his brand of voluntary stammering-- extensively (and in several ways) to reduce the fear, resolve the role conflicts, eliminate confusion through understanding the psychological dynamics of stammering, and reduce/eliminate the use of tricks and word/situation avoidance, and to stop and/or recover from relapse. Most of our students had been through therapies where the Sheehan concepts were used, but have remarked that this was the first time they really understood voluntary stammering and were able to derive benefit from it.

Non-avoidance & voluntary stammering (alone) is a proven way to recover from stammering, but our experience is that combining it with the intensive costal breathing allows one to make the jump to fluency much sooner.

And some or most of the Del Ferro graduates (we don't know exactly how many) have become strongly fluent just from the costal breathing + concentration. My experience was that there needs to be a way to stop the panic to recover from relapse which is why I incorporate Sheehan.


One critic said we do not deal with the whole person. This is untrue. We use John Harrison's concepts of the hexagon as well as his public speaking techniques to help our students towards self-actualization. In our follow-up program, much effort is spent dealing with personal growth and relationship issues.

"False roles":

One professional critic accused us of having students adopt "false roles". This is not true. This person did not research her facts. The objective of our role-conflict resolution is to get students to precisely identify and accept their true role, and to portray themselves to others in this role. The basic role is that of a "severe/moderate stammerer working to become fluent/a strong speaker." After a while and enough work, you can accept the role of "a fluent speaker with perhaps some minor reminders of a past affliction."

Placebo effect and tricks (re: costal breathing):

Some have said that the costal breathing is no more than a trick or "placebo" which produces temporary/false fluency. Maybe other techniques produce fluency through a placebo effect, but that does not necessarily apply to our program. Those of us who have tried this feel beyond a doubt the profound effect that speaking from the costal diaphragm has on stammering. Of course it takes an intensive effort and relapses do occur, but the positive benefits are tremendous. A "placebo" would not hold up over time the way it is. Some of these critics need to control their arrogance, listen to what WE say about our experience with it, and hold judgments until facts are collected.

Just like the sliding and bouncing used in voluntary stammering can sometimes become tricks when only used on feared words, this costal breathing can become a trick just to get out a feared word rather than helping the words to flow. We do our best to keep this from happening.

And it's true that a full costal breath can "sometimes" sound abnormal and far from eloquent. One of our hardest tasks is to get students to quiet down their inhalation.

Therapists, both licensed and unlicensed, must be careful with everything done with stammerers. I've seen great damage done with syllabic, prolongation, soft contact, sliding, bouncing, breathing, etc. Everything and anything can become a trick. I've even seen terrible devastation from (licensed) therapists carelessly telling stammerers that there is no cure and they must accept their problem.

"Speaking should be spontaneous and natural"

True for normal speakers. Unfortunately, we are or have been stammerers. For example, I am not a natural speaker, just like I'm not a natural tennis player. I have to pay more attention to certain things than a normal speaker does in order to speak well, just like I have to practice more and pay closer attention to my technique than a natural tennis player. But I enjoy speaking now and do it well, just like I enjoy tennis and play well when I've practiced enough. But for me now, speaking is much easier than tennis.

All of us who have been successful with this method are convinced that a big part of our stammer is in the crural diaphragm and that we must use the costal diaphragm (the more voluntary of the two) for speaking. The results of this "unnatural" breathing and speaking are tremendous as evidenced by the number of our graduates winning awards at Toastmasters and doing live radio interviews.

Pressure to succeed:

Critics have accused us of putting too much pressure on students to succeed. My personal experience with licensed therapists has been being treated like a cripple too fragile to face the consequences of success and failure. One thing I felt refreshing in the no-nonsense Del Ferro program was being treated like a strong person expected to work hard and succeed.

In the early days of our program, we no doubt put too much pressure on some people. I doubt if any therapist can look back on their first days with total satisfaction. We have all, as coaches, balanced our approach since then as it seems our tradition of success is doing the pushing.

This question (and other criticisms) were addressed in one part of our internal evaluation as follows (50 graduates):

(8) What is your opinion about expectations to succeed on the course?

  • Counterproductive
  • A bit too much
  • Acceptable, but not desirable or necessary
  • Necessary for recovery
  • Refreshing to be treated like a strong person

    2 respondents (4%) felt negative about this (counterproductive) whereas 44% felt it "necessary to recovery" and 52% felt it "refreshing to be treated as a strong person".

    NBC Dateline

    It is the best television documentary (out of 5) so far, but was not a totally accurate portrayal of the program or me. It also portrayed our program as it was a year ago and I must admit to being embarrassed by some of it. Again, our style has mellowed much since then although we still work very hard.

    You might be interested to know that out of the 5 students covered by NBC Dateline, one of the two who had relapsed has fought back and is doing well. The other has relapsed all the way mostly due to a personal crisis, but intends to still take advantage of our unlimited help to recover. The other three are doing great and Susan Cross, the lady with CP, has passed her elocution exam and is starting school to become a public speaking teacher. This sample is a fairly accurate representative of our overall success.

    "...that which helped me will help others...":

    Several critics have said that "many stutterers believe that what helped them will help others". The statement is probably true, but their attempt to use this to discredit programs started by recovered stammerers is a fallacy of logic commonly used by politicians where 'cause has no connection with effect'. Just because many stammerers base their programs on what helped them, does not mean that these programs are not effective. Perhaps on the contrary, a program based on what helped the stammerer who founded the program is more effective as evidenced by Sheehan and Van Riper.

    Interestingly, I have one unsuccessful graduate who has combined my approach with the Schwartz airflow. He says it is working for him although he reportedly still avoids and uses tricks. Right now, I disagree with him and would not use his new techniques with our students just like Del Ferro would not use voluntary stammering, nor Sheehan would use costal breathing. But I'm trying to be open minded. Should he ever prove to me that this can work with the majority of students (including himself), however, I might incorporate at least part of it.

    From my limited experience, I believe professional jealousy, undermining, gossiping, and back-biting has done much more damage to stammerers than the occasional enthusiastic, well-intentioned ex-stammerer who thinks what helped him can help others.

    The important thing here is to not make sweeping generalizations, but to look at the results. If what worked for the stammering founder of a program is working for the majority of his students, then it is worth a try. But this means programs have to go through the extra effort (and face the consequences) of external and internal evaluations.

    North American courses:

    Unfortunately it is not legal for the McGuire Program to conduct courses in most US states. We are researching which states would be legal as well as the possibility of doing this in Canada sometime next year.

    If you're thinking of coming on a course, contact me for further information. Those interested in becoming coaches would probably have to attend one of the UK course until the North American courses get going.

    Although I've responded to most of these issues before, it has been good for me to face them again. It would be nice, however, if some of you could come up with new, original criticisms or allegations (or combination thereof).

    Dave McGuire

    From: Ed Feuer


    You're on. A large problem with the quickie fixes is that they simply choose to ignore the highly conditioned behaviors, the individualized struggling responses we have developed in a maladaptive attempt to override the core block in the face of communicative stress. Refusing to get down and dirty with the blocks has the same effect of papering over a volcano (and the wheel reinventers seem to do this over and over again). What do you about what Van Riper called touching the untouchable -- unlearning (identification) before learning (modification) and relearning?

    -- Ed Feuer

    From: David McGuire

    >If there was any credibility to your program, why wouldn't licensed SLPs
    >in the U.S. jump at the >opportunity to bring your program to the U.S.

    For the same reason that SLPs don't quickly adopt any other program. (1) Few people are willing to arbitrarily give up their own programs, (2) they're not familiar with our program; exposure to it has just been recent, and (3) it takes a while for people to become interested enough to want to explore it. After all, the PFSP program that was developed at Hollins College was around for a some time before other SLP's began hearing about it and developing their own versions of it.

    As I said before, we are trying to build bridges with SLP's and more in Britain are coming to observe our courses, send referals, and help with the follow-up. I have spoken with a few SLP's in America who have shown interest. I hope they and others will help us bring it to North America and that others will help us research the results.

    >Do you think there is some conspiracy among SLPs to keep stutterers stuttering?

    No. You asked me this last year when I was on this forum.

    >A close relative of yours high pressured me to pay for your program in
    >Santa Barbara, CA a few years ago. When I turned your representative
    >down, she said, "Don't you want to overcome your stuttering?" I'm glad I
    >saved my money because even you admit that the results from that ten day
    >California program was not very good. You even admit to a 90% failure
    >rate. If I seemed pissed at your program, it probably comes from the
    >heavy handed way that I was approached by your >representatives here in

    We went over this last year as well. Maybe that's the real issue behind your animosity. I regret any "heavy handedness" that may have been used by my mother who was trying to help me start this program in the early days. But you need to be able to differentiate between the behavior of an over-enthusiastic, well-intentioned 75-year-old+ grandmother and the qualities of the current program. They are two different issues.

    >Does any reputable referral/support service for stutterers such as the
    >British Association of >Stammerers, Stuttering Foundation of America,
    >National Stuttering Project, International Fluency
    >Association, etc recommend your program?

    From what I understand, it is not appropriate for any of these agencies to officially recommend any program as they must stay neutral. The British Stammering Association, however, helped me start the program with good advice which helped to balance me during the over-enthusiastic early days. I am very grateful to them. As far as the other agencies, they have not had the opportunity to become familiar with our program although most have heard about us.

    >In the NBC Dateline story, I didn't see any voluntary stuttering or any
    >other acceptance approaches >used. All I saw was the use of this breathing
    >technique and harrassment for some quick fluency and some public speaking
    >while still under this spell of this quick fluency. I didn't see anyone
    >using voluntary stuttering in the NBC Dateline piece. Why was that?

    If we could have convinced Dateline to do a 2-hour segment on us, you would have seen all those things you mentioned, since all of that was filmed. But strangely enough, they only wanted to give us the usual 20 minutes they allot for each story.

    Dave McGuire

    From: Chris Casely

    I was on a McGuire 4 day course a year and a half ago. From being the biggest sceptic ( and you will have to take my word for that ) the course has helped me a great deal. It is not for everyone that is for sure. But if it give some people long term fluency, I'm certainly for it. As for the NBC Dateline programme, I did not like the portrayal of the course. It did not show many methods in use, as you say, 'quick fluency' in operation, however there have been a few broadcasts in Britain which have shown the methods a bit more. And YES V V V V V Voluntary Stammering is a major part ( as it should be on any course, otherwise you are just scraping the surface ) disclosure, self-acceptance and using the method are all important too. ( as it should be on any course ) Surely we should be happy if a course helps someone. (whether we believe in that method or not). There will be a method out there for everyone, as yet we may not have discovered it. But through trial and error the McGuire program has evolved and changed to concentrate on the important factors for stammering, and if I can keep talking fluently I'll be happy.

    Yours enjoying stutt-l,
    Chris Casely
    (a Scottish Stutterer

    From: Chris Casely

    We get together when we can, and also keep in regular phone contact. I use V.S. often. ( not as often as I would like to, fear is a terrible thing!! ) I last used it on a phone call just before I wrote this, I dropped it into the conversation on my name, C.C.Chris.

    If placebo pills really give 25% improvement then they should be mandatory. However I don't think the long term effect would last unless the individual made some changes. I am someone who has tried to search out a therapy for me including many sorts of pills from my doctor, these did not help at all. Indeed in my infinate wisdom!, I tried in a night-club one night some other highly illegal drugs in a vane search for easy fluency. Needless to say these did not work either, thankfully. What going on this course taught me most of all, apart from how to talk without stammering, was that the secret for success on any course was inside me and it was me who had to work at this method not some pill which would cure it. I have, as many I'm sure have had, years of trying to be taught by well-meaning speech therapists who are only trying their best, methods to speak which I could not apply in real life. Then I had a go at this course and I got benefit from it, I was not bothered that they were not speech therapists, indeed it was a refreshing change as I had cocooned myself away from other stammerers afraid of seeing what I was like. Anyway I hope this answers a few of your questions, if not send it back again!

    Cheers fur the noo,


    From: Joseph Klein

    David McGuire writes:

    >We spend considerable effort in evaluating our results which show that 75%
    >to 80% experience a >significant (if not total) improvement and a profound
    >life change which holds up and improves over >time. The other 20 to 25%,
    >for whatever reason, do not succeed simply because they stop trying.

    David, I would assume that it's statements like this that are why you are getting so much flak over the internet. If you REALLY have a 75% success rate, that's GREAT. Every stutterer hopes this is true, and in time the results will be in.

    But please cool it on the "if my program doesn't work for everyone, it's because some people are quitters." Nothing can help everyone. 20% "stopped trying" because the program wasn't working for them, and that's fine, and over time more than that will regress, no matter how good the program is.

    I wish your program the best of success, David, and I hope all of your clients can someday speak as fluently as you do. Just watch out for the Schwartzian claims and the blaming of stutterers. If your program works, it works, and if it doesn't, it doesn't, and all the marketing in the world won't change that.

    Take care,


    From: David McGuire (Responding to Joseph Klein)

    Thanks for the feedback and advice. Your point is well taken. I am still wrestling with the issue of responsibility and have argued this before.

    Up to a point, a teacher must take responsibility for a student's failure to learn because he or she failed to teach. At what point, however, does the responsibility fall on the shoulders of the student? For example, when a teacher has done everything possible explaining to a resistant student why avoidance mechanisms should not be used but the student is so adept at intellectualization that he is always able to come up with a reason for his trick using/word avoidance. True, an exceptionally good teacher should be able to unravel or cut through the intellectualization, but most of us cannot in all cases unless, perhaps, we want to ignore the other students and devote all our time and energy to the one.

    At what point can any program put responsibility for success or failure on the student/client? My opinion **has been** (but perhaps need to change) that any program which has a success rate (significant, long-term improvement) of 50% or higher can put this responsibility on the shoulders of the student. Below this, I believe the program needs to look at itself as the cause for poor progress as I had to do in 1994. And this is a major reason why a program/therapist must take the time and effort to do accurate success evaluations.

    In my own experience with avoiding responsibility, I know I could have been totally successful with the Sheehan program (and avoided wasting all those years), but was only partially successful simply because I was lazy and did not put forth enough effort. I saw many examples of his approach working for others but I chose to be complacent, accept my 'improved' but still severe stammer, and make excuses for not working. And I was, shamefully, very good (and I had a lot of support from others) at blaming him for my inaction.

    Thanks again for helping me think this through.


    From: Norbert Lieckfeldt

    >Dave McGuire wrote:
    >From what I understand it is not appropriate for any of these agencies to
    >officially recommend any programme as they must stay neutral. The British
    >Stammering Association, however, helped me to start the program with good
    >advice which helped to balance me during the over-enthusiastic early

    As a new subscriber to Stutt-L, I would like to point out that, even though I am employed by the British Stammering Association, the opinions stated are entirely my own, unless stated otherwise, and I will try to make the distinction very clear.

    BSA's current practice with regards to Ira Zimmerman's point could be summarised as follows: With respect to providing information on differing therapies for stammering, the BSA recognises the right of people to have access to up-to-date, un-biased information on all differing therapies available. On request, we provide balanced information upon differing therapy options, trying to reflect advantages and disadvantages accurately and fairly, to assist individuals in choosing an approach best suited to individual needs and circumstances. This approach we feel best empowers the individual to take responsibility for themselves and to make informed decisions about therapy choices.

    My personal opinion from speaking with many BSA members who have been to Dave's course is that quite a few people have been helped. So far, I have not heard any seriously negative feedback, not even from those people for whom the course was not successful or who left half-way through. I do not believe that there is such a thing as The Approach which helps all stammerers, and I definitely think that Dave's method would not be the right thing for me, as complete fluency is not a goal I would spend a lot of effort on. However, who am I to tell other stammerers that they must do the same?


    From: David Mcguire

    Hi Norbert,

    Thanks for the honest feedback and your personal observation. I've been feeling somewhat of like the lone ranger even though some graduates have jumped in in support.

    How long have you been on Stutt-L? Would you like me to forward some past postings to give you an idea of what's going on?

    I went on after a recent graduate, Matt Toomey, from America went on stutt-hlp and got attacked by Ira and Starkweather. I had been on for a short while last year, but Zimmerman exhausted me and I swore I would never go back. But here I am. Just trying to counter the misinformation and attempts to discredit us.

    I've been warned (by Harrison and others) about getting into it with Ira. Apparently he has nothing else in his life to do except hang around these formus trying to get into fights and distorting facts. Just don't burn yourself out.

    I will be signing off in a couple of days.

    All my best,

    From: Knut Jarle Hjornevik

    My name is Knut Jarle Hjornevik. I'm from Norway, and have been a stutterer all my life (I'm 32 years old). I have been a very severe stutterer, with a lot of facial distortions. Two months ago I took a Dave McGuire course in Dublin. And I regret - not that I attended the course, but that I have waited for so long. I felt free from my stuttering after one day, and although I have had some ups and downs, I feel even more free now, two months after my first course. And I feel that I become stronger every day. I can't appreciate Dave McGuire and his course well enough. And I could see that the other new students at the Dublin course also did very well - and still are. I met most of them at the refresher course in Bournemouth a month ago, and hope to see them again in Bristol next week.

    Because of my good experiences with this course, I am very disappointed of some people in this forum. They seem to criticize Dave as a kind of a sport. They even call him Maguire instead of McGuire. If they even can't spell his name the right way, how can we trust these people? And they are always talking about the first and worst year of this program. Why are people so negative? I don't have the answer. But I'm very disappointed of this attitude.

    I'm doing my best to spread the good news of this unique program to all the people I meet. And I hope that if there are some people out there who is considering this program seriously, I beg you to listen to us recovering stutterers from the McGuire program and not these negative people on this forum.

    Best regards from Knut

    From: E. Christensen


    I am sure I speak for most of us when I say that we are happy for you and for your success. However, don't be "disappointed" in those of us that tell our side of the story about the various treatment programs that are available. I understand that you want to "defend the honor" of the McGuire program since you had such success with it, but others have attended the same program and did not meet with your success. Their opinions and their experiences are just as valid as yours. Don't judge too harshly...we all want to provide information, but we all have our own points of view. Yours is no better or worse than ours. You may not "trust these people", but trust that they have the best intentions in mind.


    From: Joan

    Is there any one therapy that is a "cure" for PWS? Of course not. Having read the various burning comments regarding Mcguire's therapy session, I'm a little confused.

    I consider the SLPs (and many of the PWS) on this list scientists. On one hand, scientific theory must be proven before it is accepted. But let's face it. In the dark ages (and not-so-dark ages) people with new ideas that are now accepted scientific fact were persecuted, burned at the stake, spurned by colleagues, etc. The virulence of some of the comments reminds me of that. I am not lending support to Mcguire's program--but the list response certainly is interesting...

    How long does a program exist before it gets the respectability of being moderately acceptable to the scientific community? I know, I know---Mcguire's theory doesn't relate to what is accepted today. Frankly, SLPs can accept and teach that cows fly for all I care, as long as it could cure my personal stuttering--i would go for it!

    Stuttering is such a complex problem that what works for some doesn't work for others. In fact, speaking from my own experience, success is achieved by taking a little out of many sources--the "zen" of spech, easy onset, breathing, forgetting about the stutter when I can and many many concepts that are not related to my being a PWS.

    How many of us have paid for one (or several) accepted therapies and have not been cured? If there is one thing that I have learned from associating with PWS--it is that even the accepted programs may or may not be worth what they cost.

    Regards and best wishes to any one of us who can gain success from whatever means are available -- traditional or not.


    From: David McGuire

    Hi Joany,

    After all the flack, I appreciate your positive open-minded comments.

    Best wishes,


    From: Tony Troiano

    I watched the recent NBC Dateline segment which featured David McGuire's program. As a person who stutters, I found several aspects of the program troubling:

    1. McGuire claims the program employs acceptance methods such as voluntary stuttering but his claim contradicts what I saw on my TV screen that evening. Participants in the program were encouraged to display hatred of their stuttering and have no acceptance of themselves as people who stutter. Since Mr. McGuire admits that up to 25% of those who participate receive no long term benefit I must wonder aloud what advice he gives to those who fall within that failing percentage. Obviously these "failures" must now go home and face the world as the sorry self hating individuals they were before McGuire's therapy. Perhaps Mr. McGuire will explain the methods he uses to arrive at success/failure statistics.

    2. The boot camp mentality seems to suggest that the "recruit" could be cured by beating or shaming the stutter out. Everyone in the segment seemed to be running around screaming. It is not much of a stretch to realize that temporary fluency is easily achieved in a charged atmosphere such as this. History has proven that short term fluency is a common occurence in intensive therapy programs. In additional, I believe this "get tough" approach sends the wrong message to the vast fluent TV audience whose ignorance of stuttering issues has been historically abysmal. Just what we need, more misinformation. The segment on Dateline did nothing to educate the public on even the basic points of the very complex issues involving the dynamics of stuttering.

    3. I notice Mr. McGuire, when explaining his program, uses the word *teacher* when referring to himself, and the word *student* when alluding to the stutterers in his program. This may seem nitpicky to some but I do not feel comfortable with that terminology. I believe the *doctor* and *patient* description is more appropriate when speaking about speech therapy. Of course, I believe Mr. McGuire cannot address himself in that manner because to the best of my knowledge he has no formal credentials to treat those who stutter.

    Forgive my skepticism, but as one who has been burned by the allure of unconventional and intensive stuttering treatments in the past, I would approach this type of treatment very suspiciously. Self acceptance works the best for me. Stuttering is one part of me and my membership in the National Stuttering Project and subscription to this listserv illustrates to me that I am in good company.

    --Tony Troiano--

    From: David McGuire (Responding to Tony Troiano)

    Tony Troiano,

    Thanks for your fair criticism and concern. You make some good points which I will do my best to respond to:

    >McGuire claims the program employs acceptance methods such as voluntary
    >stuttering but his claim >contradicts what I saw on my TV screen that

    As I mentioned in another posting, I had no control over what went out on the NBC Dateline. I, too, wish they had spent more time getting into the non-avoidance, role acceptance, voluntary stammering, etc. that is such an important part of our program.

    >Participants in the program were encouraged to display hatred of their
    >stuttering and have no acceptance of themselves as people who stutter.

    We do not teach hatred of stuttering. Our acceptance is specifically accepting oneself as a 'stammerer who is trying to become a strong speaker/fluent'. To do this one must first learn to stutter in a dignified manner and to be assertive about their identity as a recovering stammerer. I regret that the NBC program emphasized the emotional scenes.

    >Since Mr. McGuire admits that up to 25% of those who participate receive
    >no long term benefit I must >wonder aloud what advice he gives to those
    >who fall within that failing percentage.

    Well, we try to get them to keep trying. If they stopped trying because of personal problems or perhaps they just aren't ready for it, we try to help them with that and reassure them that they can come back into the program anytime they want to try again. Many times we will refer them to other therapists or programs that we think will be better for them. I would like to be able to do more for these people.

    > Obviously these "failures" must now go home and face the world as the
    >sorry self hating
    >individuals they were before McGuire's therapy.

    Perhaps some and it's regretable. I know of several, however, who have come to terms with their stammer becasue of our course realizing that it is better for them just to stammer than to go through the very difficult work of overcoming it.

    > Perhaps Mr. McGuire will explain the methods he uses to arrive at
    >success/failure statistics.

    As mentioned we have both internal and external ongoing evaluations. The internal is a self-evaluation based in part on Boberg's format. We have completed one sampling of 50 graduates of the 1995-96 program. The '97 evaluation should be ready early next year.

    The external evaluations are being conducted by an SLP in England based on his graduate research effiacy study of some of our students. This is quite involved and involves an accepted fluency index, the Eysenck Personality Inventory, surprise telephone calls. This should be ready by mid 1998 I will ask if Nic would like to log on to this list and perhaps give you a better idea of what he's doing.

    >The boot camp mentality seems to suggest that the "recruit" could be cured
    >by beating or shaming the stutter out. Everyone in the segment seemed to
    >be running around screaming.

    I must apologize that we gave this impression and I'm quite embarrassed by it. I agree that back in June 1996 we were still in the over-enthusiastic, hard-nosed, over-emotional stage. As mentioned before, we have learned a lot since then and our approach has mellowed. Actually people have commented that they haven't seen me lose my temper in many months (even though I tried to once but ended up laughing at myself). We still work hard, but it's a lot lighter and a whole lot more fun.

    >It is not much of a stretch to realize that temporary fluency is easily
    >achieved in a charged
    >atmosphere such as this. History has proven that short term fluency is a
    >common occurence in intensive therapy programs.

    You're very right. But getting fluency quickly is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you're also given the tools to hold on to it. Indeed, one of the things that motivated me in the Del Ferro program (talk about being skeptical!!) was feeling the strong fluency right away. This gave me the motivation to keep going. Thank heaven for my knowledge of the Sheehan concepts which helped me keep it and recover from relapses.

    >In additional, I believe this "get tough" approach sends the wrong message
    >to the vast fluent TV
    >audience whose ignorance of stuttering issues has been historically
    >abysmal. Just what we need, >more misinformation. The segment on
    >Dateline did nothing to educate the public on even the basic >points of
    >the very complex issues involving the dynamics of stuttering.

    I must agree with you here. It would have been great if NBC gave it two hours and covered other programs as well.

    >I notice Mr. McGuire, when explaining his program, uses the word *teacher*
    >when referring to >himself, and the word *student* when alluding to the
    >stutterers in his program. This may seem >nitpicky to some but I do not
    >feel comfortable with that terminology. I believe the *doctor* and
    >>*patient* description is more appropriate when speaking about speech
    >therapy. Of course, I believe >Mr. McGuire cannot address himself in that
    >manner because to the best of my knowledge he has no >formal credentials
    >to treat those who stutter.

    I disagree with you here. "doctor - patient" implies that I am supposed to 'cure' them. As pointed out by Ed F., the idea is to teach/coach them to become their own therapist. I heard this the first time from Sheehan. Even if I had the credentials I would still prefer to call myself 'teacher' or 'coach.'

    > Forgive my skepticism, but as one who has been burned by the allure of
    >unconventional and intensive stuttering treatments in the past, I would
    >approach this type of treatment very suspiciously.

    As well you should. This is one reason why I'm putting so much effort into researching our effectiveness. Just make sure you research your facts before passing judgment.

    >Self acceptance works the best for me.

    Great! If you're happy, if you are fulfilling your potential and not letting your stammer hold you back, if you sincerely like yourself, why not? I wish I could have done that (without fooling myself) with my own stammer.

    Dave McGuire

    From: Grant Cairns (Responding to Tony Troiano)

    I don't quite understand the deal here with the talk of the percentage who fail (which is getting fewer all the time). Surely if a majority can be helped it is better to give these people a shot rather than dismissing it out of hand ? It is better to have tried than not to have tried at all!

    I feel Teacher/Student is more accurate than Doctor/Patient . After all Dave McGuire has never made any claims to formal qualifications (which would be inferred by using the terms Doctor/Patient) and is merely someone who shares the same affliction we have. He has learnt how to deal with this and wants to pass this on - I can't think of a better description of this than teacher/student.


    From: Adam M. Charney

    I've been following this thread with some interest, primarily to see where both the clinical debate of Mr. McGuire's therapy would lead us as well as what the visceral reaction of the list would be to him.

    Ira's suggestions, as well as others', has been that since the therapy at best has a low success rate, it should not be used by anyone, that it should be banned because it is developed and administered, or at least promoted, by someone who is not an SLP. Th continuing implication of Ira's posts is that the only therapies which should be considered of value are those which provide more nearly global success rates.

    The issue of peer-reviewed data is relevant then only to claimed success rates (which I will deal with in a moment). Since the "peers" have no more of a final and complete model of either singular or multiple causes for therapy, any position that the peer might take with respect to the efficacy of a therapy is not significant. In fact, taking any position would be, I think, intellectually dishonest.

    The issue of claimed success rates is of concern. I think that promoters of anything will massage the information about the things benefits to present the thing in the best possible light. A less pernicious example is Dentyne gum, a more pernicious one, Prozac. Both Dr. Schwartz and Mr. McGuire should heed my advise to be somewhat less aggressive in stating and calculating cure rates.

    In any event, I would suppose the reality of Mr. McGuire's success rate is somewhere between the 10% offered by Mr. Zimmerman and the extraordinary claim Mr. McGuire makes himself.

    Adam M. Charney

    From: Cynthia Scace

    >David McGuire wrote:
    >We spend considerable effort in evaluating our results which show that 75%
    >to 80% experience a significant (if not total) improvement and a profound
    >life change which holds up and improves over time. The other 20 to 25%,
    >for whatever reason, do not succeed simply because they stop trying.

    Hi David,

    When the flaming started on stutt-l after the Dateline show I was one of the few who challenged the flamers. You seemed to be honest with your stats and never once claimed to have the "cure" for stuttering. But since you have come on list I have a few things I need to say. I hope you haven't signed off yet.

    Your improvement rate of up to 75% is wonderful, if it stands the test of time. To blame the other 25% for quiting or not working hard enough burns my socks off!! You see I've been there and done that. I have been through many programs over the years. When they failed over time it was implied that I was to blame. And I beleived it. For about 20 years I believed it. Until I found stutt-l and NSP. What kind of follow up do you do with clients who are having trouble? Do they get extra support?

    I am also wondering where all these supporters of your have come from? After the the Dateline show I suggested that it was not fair to McGuire bash unless you had personal experience with the program. I asked for anyone on the list who had been through the program to share their experience with the list. No one did. Now that you are on stutt-l there are suddenly many supporters who have been "lurking". Hmmm.

    Cynthia Scace
    Jim, Cynthia and Andrew Scace
    Greenfield, MA USA 01301,

    From: Paul Young

    Hello everyone,

    John Harrison asked me to forward this to the list.

    Paul Young

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------From: John C. Harrison

    To Stutt-L,

    Some of the discussion about the McGuire program has been forwarded to me. It's not my intention to take sides or prove anybody wrong, but to simply share some of my impressions, experiences and ideas about Dave McGuire, about his program, and about some of the things that were said on Stutt-L.

    I first met Dave three years ago in Sweden at the Fourth International Conference for People Who Stutter. We found we had a number of things in common -- most particularly, the idea that stuttering was a holistic problem involving the entire person. Dave had read and liked some of the things that I had written, and I, in turn, was curious about the breathing technique that appeared to be the focus of his program.

    In the months after the Sweden convention we kept in touch, first by fax, and then by e-mail when Dave got on line. Over time I became more familiar with his program, at least with the philosophy underyling it. Dave sent me his self-published book, "Freedom's Road", which explained the rationale behind the breathing technique. The book also touched on, among other things, non-avoidance and voluntary stammering, crisis management, a collection of "laws" relating to the things you need to do to avoid relapse, mental and emotional pitfalls to look out for, the traps that lead to chronic relapse, and a collection of interesting articles written by graduates. I found all of it quite interesting. It was also apparent that the information in the book was hard won -- Dave had lived through all of this himself, and was talking from experience. Quite frankly, I'm partial to this kind of self-discovery. As someone who grew up with a stuttering problem, had it degrade the quality of my life for almost 30 years, and then having pursued a a self-directed program that, among other things, led to a complete and lasting recovery, I felt I had learned some useful things about stuttering...things that had eluded the professional community.

    I came to believe that a great deal could be understood about stuttering if you became a good observer...if you learned HOW to observe. And if you were willing to live outside your comfort zone by constantly experimenting and trying out new things, you could make many interesting and useful discoveries. I also came to believe that for some people, these pursuits could lead to a complete recovery, and for others, at the very least, it could lead to improved speech and/or a vastly improved quality of life.

    Another thing I liked about Dave McGuire was that he recognized what I was trying to do with the public speaking manual I published -- in fact, he incorporated the material as part of his program. He was excited because the exercises seemed to work. I was excited, too -- even more so when I learned that some of his graduates in the U.K. had started holding regular weekly sessions focused around the exercises in the workbook. Periodically, some of them would even call me to chat about what they were doing.

    Then early last year Dave asked me if I'd like to come to England to do a 2-day workshop. It would be held the weekend after one of his programs. I jumped at the chance, and late in November my wife and I went to England where I put on the workshop in London-- one day on the Stuttering Hexagon concept and one day on public speaking -- for almost 60 people, most of whom were McGuire graduates. I also introduced the people in the workshop to speaking circles, and earlier in the week, I also ran a speaking circle in Swindon. Swindon has now organized the first NSP chapter in Europe with regular chapter meetings. And they are running regular speaking circles there as well.

    In the week before the workshop, I had several occasions to go out to lunch with graduates of the McGuire program, and I also had ample opportunity during the two days I ran my program to chat with even more graduates. I was, quite frankly, impressed with their enthusiasm and how dramatically many of them had turned around their lives.

    Of course, there was a great deal of focus on the breathing technique, and some of them breathed in an exaggerated way, which seemed a bit bizarre. But with others, unless you were looking and listening carefully, you could not tell there was anything unusual going on.

    I also met some people in the workshop who had no intention of going through the McGuire program. They didn't like the concept, it didn't fit their personality -- and that was fine, too.

    Many people who went through the program talked about it being tough. People were constantly being challenged. Nobody is coddled. In the course, people's intention and commitment are periodically challenged. I can relate to that. I went through a lot of personal growth programs like est and Lifespring which challenged and confronted me big time. I liked those challenges. They pushed me WAY outside my comfort zone, but even when I was feeling my worst, I was intrigued by what was going on, and there was something compelling about hanging in there. I did some of these programs several times, and I also assisted at trainings, so I had occasion to see how many other people responded to those same challenges. By and large, people struggled, resisted, fought, and ultimately loved the experiences because they, as individuals, were perceived as capable of being bigger and stronger than they thought they were. This kind of attitude I found refreshing. Most stuttering-related programs have maintained a narrow focus on speech, and few, if any, have offered this kind of tough love. Of course, this is not the only route, and some people don't thrive in that challenging a climate and do better with a softer approach. And that's fine. You should always look for the kind of program that fits your needs. But at the very least, I liked the program because it seems to deal with the individual on many different levels.

    Another thing I like about the program is how effectively the graduates are organized, how easy it is to come back to do follow-ups, which I believe are either free or cost next to nothing. I like that graduates come back as coaches, just as I came back and assisted those going through the same personal growth programs that I had graduated from. I also respected the fact that people are not getting rich form this program, and that people appear to be motivated by deeper, more personal drives than just making a buck (ie: pound.)

    I've looked into various programs over the 20 years I've been associated with the NSP. I've tried out the Edinburgh Masker. I read Martin Schwartz's books on his air flow program. I read about and talked to graduates of PFSP. I think if you want to really know about stuttering and its remediation, it's important to keep your mind open, and avoid snap judgements.

    Not that I haven't made some judgments. I had issues with Martin Schwartz and his program, especially with his rather cursory explanation of his program and (to me) arrogant stance on Stutt-L. To every challenge he said, "Read my book." so I went out and bought his book, read it, stayed up until 3 a.m. one morning writing a 3,000 word critique., highlighting points that I took issue with, and posted it on Stutt-L. Schwartz passed it off with a grand wave of his arm and a three sentence response. So I have reason to feel miffed.

    However, I feel that quite the reverse has happened regarding Dave McGuire on Stutt-L. Although Dave has taken a lot of time to respond to people in detail, people have made snap judgements of his program based on a brief stay he had on Stutt-L some months ago and a 20 minute segment on Dateline. I'm amazed at how people have arrived at definite conclusions regarding his program from those brief 20 minutes. I have, among other things, been a script writer of corporate films, and I know what the shooting ratio is for films -- that is, the amount of footage shot vs. the amount of footage used. Francis Ford Coppola was reputed to have had a shooting ratio of 500 to 1 on "Apocalypse Now", and even on films we did for people like Levi Straus, you were looking at a 10-1 ratio and a lot higher if you were doing a documentary like the Dateline show. You can bet that the network shot a good 15-20 **hours** of film to come up with those 20 minutes. So for people to think that the 20 minutes they saw was the whole story is to lose track of what they're looking at. The editor, producer, director and whoever else all look at those 15-20 hours and between them decide on the point of view they wish to take. And that point of view becomes the focus of the program. The program could have been cut any number of different ways. What you saw on Dateline was simply someone's idea of what made the most interesting story.

    Stutt-L was originally set up, as I understand it, as a forum where people could trade ideas and pursue serious inquiry into the nature of stuttering. Now, I haven't followed the whole thread because I'm not currently a subscriber to the listserv, but from what I've seen, it appears to me that no one is interesting in pursuing a serious inquiry into the McGuire program. Personally, I think you're blowing a great opportunity. Here's a guy who has a unique program that seems to have benefit, at least to a certain percentage of people. And he's willing to explore it with anyone who's curious. Isn't there ANYONE on the list who has some serious questions about the program that they'd want to pose to Dave or any of his graduates. Various people seem to be committed to defending their (to me) narrow point of view about stuttering and therapy, rather than pursuing a line of inquiry. Hell, I remember reading Elron Hubbard's book "Dianetics" which is the cornerstone of Scientology. Now, I'm not particularly supportive of Scientology, and there are some things about it I downright don't like about it, but I found the book interesting, and there are certain truths that Hubbard stumbled on which I found intriguing. After all, you don't trash the whole car just because you don't like the color of the hub caps. There's something to learn from everybody.

    People hear the words "breathing technique" and weekend program, and they go into a Pavlovian response just as surely as they were subjects in a laboratory experiment. Well, here's the scoop. Not all guys with wavey mustaches are gigolos. Not all Californians sit in hot tubs and massage themselves with duck feathers. And not programs that incorporate a technique of one sort or another are run by quacks and charlatans. Far be in from me to tell people how to live, but since Stutt-L is supposedly a forum for the pursuit of knowledge, it would be nice if people could stop reacting in such a knee jerk way, keep an open mind, and take a stab at finding out what's out there. At the very least, instead of trashing Dave's program basing everything on a 20-minute segment from a TV newsmagazine, why not send him 5 bucks or whatever for his book (to cover postage) and then you'll be in a position to discuss or take issue with the specifics. At the very least you'll be an informed reader. Or make an effort to talk to some of his graduates, some of whom are on this listserv, and ask them **informed** questions, rather than just trying to prove them wrong.

    And no, I have no plans to get back on the forum. After 4 1/2 years on Stutt-L, I felt I needed to get a life. And some sleep. ;-)

    John Harrison (

    From: Jim McClure

    Kudos to David McGuire for voluntarily occupying the hot seat on this list.

    My conclusions from this stormy string:

    1. Most TV reports are incomplete and often inaccurate. (I think we already knew that.) The posts from McGuire and others added some information most of us didn't get from the NBC Dateline report.

    2. If there's any universal truth here, it's that every treatment program works for SOME people who stutter, but no single therapy approach works for EVERY PWS. That appears to have been the experience with airflow, fluency shaping, etc. The more alternative approaches that exist, the more options PWS will have to navigate their personal pathways to recovery.

    3. We need independent research on the effectiveness of various stuttering treatments. What little research exists has been undertaken by therapists seeking to validate their own treatment methods. Wouldn't it be great if we had some comparative research that would help PWS be savvy consumers in selecting the treatment methods that best meet their individual needs!

    4. Let Ira be Ira. Raising issues is always useful despite the scorched earth that often results.

    --Jim McClure

    From: Anita S. Blom

    Also the Swedish Stuttering Association is open for all kinds of speech therapies. At our member meeting in November our theme will be speech therapy and we will have workshops with different kinds of therapies, all from regular speech therapy till McGuire's method, done by a Swedish guy who took up the method and now teaches it himself. It's not up to a National association do decide what's right or wrong. It's up to the PWS to decide what he/she feels good with. Of course, everyone should be told that NO method works for everyone and that you're not a quitter when this one doesn't work for you, but every person has different feelings and experiences, and it's good to try one or more methods and see what fits. Maybe you want to combine methods, maybe none fits. But it's always up to the PWS and none else.


    From: Matt Toomey

    I've been lurking on this list and its time I spoke up. I'm a 20 year old recovering stutterer. I went through Dave McGuire's program almost 2 months ago. I took the chance to fly to Europe (I live in California) and go on the McGuire course. I was scared and I was skeptical at first, but after my first 4 day session I was a new person. For the first time in my life I enjoyed speaking!

    I'm going to keep this post short, this topic has been discussed in detail already. I do have a few points to make though:

    1. Ira, stop bad mouthing a program you know nothing about. We had this conversation on stut-hlp a month ago. The ONLY people who really know what goes on at a McGuire course are people who have gone through it. Don't make harsh and inaccurate statements when you don't know anything about this program. You are being close minded (contrary to what you think) and it seems to be your personal goal to discourage people from going to a McGuire course.

    2. Where's Woody? Woody, you seemed so eager to jump on me and bring me down on stut-hlp, but as soon as Dave gets involved in a forum you run and hide. You and others on that forum wanted to see me fail in my recovery and see the McGuire program go down too. Well, I'll be honest with you, I dropped off stut-hlp because all the negativity was affecting my speech and my confidence. I experienced some major problems with my speech. But I'm back, and my speech is as strong as ever. All it took was a few days of hard work and going back to the basics of the program. Dave gives us the tools to overcome occasional times of turbulence.

    3. Maybe the reason why Dave, me, and other past graduates feel so strong about this program and are upset by people who close their ears to us is because we've seen it work! I met 60 recovering stutterers in England at one of Dave's courses. It used to take some of these people 2 minutes to say their name, now they are some of the most eloquent and dignified speakers I've ever met.

    Matt Toomey

    From: Woody Starkweather

    I want to express my regret for anything taken to be an attack on Matt Toomey. I thought I said pretty clearly that I wished him success, as I certainly do. But I was very strong in my language. It is not my intention to hurt people. Rather it is because I have seen so many people hurt by programs put on by people who are essentially ignorant about the disorder that red flags go up when I hear certain statements being made.

    I have been impressed by David's willingness to come on the list and field the criticisms, and he has done so in a forthright and nondefensive manner. I also want to acknowledge, as I did before, that what I knew about his program was based on what I had seen on the TV program, and I know that these are not always accurate. Having learned that he uses voluntary stuttering, and that there is a real plan for long-term follow-up puts a very different complexion on the program.

    I still feel that the emphasis on breathing is both dangerous for PWS and based on a faulty understanding of the physiology. It may very well be that one anatomist feels that the diaphragm functions as two different muscles, but it has not been shown that they can be controlled independently of each other. But most importantly it is certainly not true that one part of the diaphragm inflates the chest and the other the lower part of the thorax. The simple physics of inhalation and exhalation make this an absolute impossibility. The McGuire program appears to be teaching stutterers to breathe more with their chest (using the intercostal muscular system, which is not part of the diaphragm, and other upper torso musculature). There is no evidence that this will be helpful to stutterers, except as a temporary distraction, and it is quite wrong to describe this as the way opera singers are taught to breathe. They are taught to MINIMIZE chest breathing. I studied operatic voice, and I know. Of course, my operatic singing left much to be desired, but I don't think it was because I got the breathing message backwards. Winston Purdy has also verified this position, and he teaches voice. But even if David were teaching people to sing with less chest movement instead of more I think it would still be wrong, and dangerous, to do so. Too many stutterers who have been taught to breathe in special ways incorporate the habit into their stuttering pattern.

    But all this may not be that important. If there are other aspects of the program that are beneficial they may outweigh this one flaw, although I do think it is an important one.

    I think the issue of credentials is also important. There is a reason why speech pathologists are certified and licensed. It means that they have completed a certain minimum of education in the various disorders. When specialty recognition is in place, it will mean that the specialists have completed certain additional courses, and certain additional practical experiences. We all know that the training that NONspecialized speech pathologists receive is not adequate to treat the disorder. It seems to me wrong then to allow someone who has less training even then the generalists to practice speech therapy (which is what it is despite the disclaimers). The mistakes that are being made about breathing are the best example one could possibly offer for this position. Teaching stutterers breathing techniques is dangerous; it often makes the disorder worse.

    Of course, David is himself a stutterer, and in my opinion this gives him a kind of expertise that even speech pathologists cannot have, unless they too are or have been stutterers. But it isn't enough just to be a stutterer. The view of recovery from that position is far too narrow -- it worked for me therefore it must work for everybody. Stuttering is much too variable for this to be a sound argument.

    I would ask David, since he seems to want to treat people who stutter, to go back to school and learn all of the information that there is to learn about stuttering to supplement his own personal experience. Then he would be qualified.


    From: Louise Heite

    I think the thing that gets peoples' goat - (what's that in Dutch or Swedish?) that gets people angry - about McGuire is that in the past he has said some very intemperate things about the people for whom his program does not work, and he has thrown around some pretty spectacular statistics without much to back them up except testimonial. He now claims that he is getting the studies done to support his claims. One hopes that they will be honest, and not just eyewash. He also seems to have toned down his assertion that the people who don't benefit from his method are losers who lack discipline.

    We'll see when the evidence is in.



    From: David McGuire (In response to Louise Heite)

    Sorry guys, I'm sick of me too, but if you're going to talk about me I have to join in. At least you're being fair.

    I agree that I've been a jerk forgetting "when the student fails to learn, the teacher has failed to teach" (I need a big sign on my wall). As I said to someone before, this reminder was one good thing to come out of coming on these forums.

    My "claims" are based on the regular reports I get from regional coaches and my own contact with graduates who call me regularly. The two formal efficacy studies (internal and external) are not extensive enough to be conclusive, but that's why the big study is being done now and why even better ones will be done in the future. I think the results are at least as good as those shown by Hollins and (the late) Boberg ... it is just a matter of proving it beyond a reasonable doubt.

    These studies will be as honest as can possibly be. The SLP doing the current study has his professional reputation on the line, so I doubt if he'll distort the facts. You might want to tell me what you would consider an acceptable study.

    Actually, I wish I had never set foot onto these forums without the big evaluation finished. The first time (last year) was out of curiosity when I didn't even have the formal internal nor Nic's graduate research project in hand. This time it was to defend the program after Matt told me what was going on after the Dateline thing.

    I don't expect you to blindly accept what our graduates or I are saying. Just want some fair treatment.


    added October 5, 1997