Treatment Ideas for Covert (Interiorized) Stuttering


                                                        Stephen B. Hood, Ph.D.

The University of South Alabama



Factors that help perpetuate the problem for most (not all) persons with covert stuttering:


1                           Fears            Fear of stuttering, or fear that you might stutter.  Fear of looking or sounding different.  Fear that the secret of your stuttering will be discovered.


2                           Guilt                              Guilt for what you do, or might do.  Guilt for stuttering.  Guilt because you make your listeners feel uncomfortable.


3                           Shame            Shame for what you are – a person who stutters.


4                           Denial            Denial of having a problem in the first place.  Denial of the need to work on resolving the stuttering.


These negative emotions of fear, guilt, shame and denial must be reduced.  Maybe they cannot be totally eliminated, but you should try to reduce them to the point where you can tolerate them.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to superimpose behavioral techniques to modify your stuttering, and/or modify your fluency, on top of fear, guilt, shame and denial.


Desensitization to these emotions is important.  Desensitization does not mean that you will end up liking these feeling, but rather, desensitization can help you to tolerate and cope with them. 


Steps that will help along the road to recovery


               Acceptance     Work to be more open, honest, tolerant and acceptant of stuttering.  Increased acceptance can be helpful in reducing the shame, guilt and denial.


               Acceptance can be fostered by gradually doing some of the following:


)                            Being willing to talk more openly and honestly about stuttering. 

)                            Being able to mention your stuttering, in socially acceptable ways, to family, friends and colleagues. 

)                            Being willing to ³advertise² stuttering (e.g., wear an NSA t-shirt, or give someone an NSA Pen.)

)                            Being able to do some voluntary stuttering on non-feared words can be helpful.  Try making some phone calls to strangers, and do some purposeful stuttering.  (Check the classified advertisement¹s section of the newspaper, and call to ask questions from someone who is trying to sell something.)  Call some toll-free ³800² numbers to inquire about something.


Accept the real fluency you have, and the ³controlled fluency² or ³modified stuttering² or ³good talking² you earn, but do not worship the ³false fluency² achieved through postponement and avoidances, or use of tricks, crutches, and other artificial means.