Selecting a speech therapist is an important and highly individual decision. Speech-language pathologists with the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) are considered qualified to treat a broad range of speech disorders, including stuttering. Because stuttering is a low-incidence disorder, however, many clinicians who hold ASHA’s CCC may have limited training or experience in working with people who stutter.
There is no “best” method of speech therapy for stuttering. While most treatment approaches work for some people who stutter, no single method works for everyone, regardless of the advertising claims for some therapies. Research shows that people who stutter see the most successful treatment outcomes when:
- The clinician is experienced in working with people who stutter; and
- The clinician and client have a “therapeutic alliance” that enables them to work well together.
It’s essential that you speak with potential clinicians and ask about their experience and comfort level with people who stutter, their treatment approaches, and their expected outcomes after therapy. Often, the specific questions you ask are not as important as your level of confidence that the clinician is the right one for you. Many speech-language pathologists will offer a consultation prior to initiating therapy in which you can ask questions and gauge your own comfort level in working with this professional.
Here are some resources to help you identify clinicians who focus on stuttering:
- The Specialty Board on Fluency Disorders has a list of speech-language pathologists who have advanced training in stuttering and meet peer-reviewed standards as board-recognized specialists at www.StutteringSpecialists.org. Specialists are generally familiar with their colleagues, so if you are unable to find a specialist near you, or if they are not currently accepting new clients, it is appropriate to ask a specialist for a personal referral. This may be someone they know, perhaps not a Board-Recognized Specialist, but someone with expertise and interest in treating stuttering. The Specialty Board for Fluency Disorders also offers some tips on how to choose a speech-language pathologist and what questions to ask.
- The Stuttering Foundation of America has a referral list of speech-language pathologists who have a special interest in stuttering at.
- The NSA can also help you find a speech-language pathologist in your area who is active in the NSA or has participated in our Continuing Education Program. Contact our National Office at Info@WeStutter.org or (800) We Stutter. The NSA does not warrant the competency of these speech-language pathologists nor guarantee their treatment. As with any referral, speak with the professional and ask questions.
- Attend a local NSA Chapter meeting and ask around. Sometimes group members and chapter leaders are familiar with local speech-language pathologists with an interest in stuttering. Participating in a support group also can help you get the most out of speech therapy. A survey by the NSA showed that support group participants are more likely to have successful speech therapy.
- Also check out the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) frequently asked questions about obtaining reimbursement for stuttering treatment.